Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting and Homebrew

Happy Valentine's Day!!

It was quite the busy Sunday night in Dan’s tiny little studio apartment. He was set on making a porter similar to Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter that I love so much, and I was on a mission to make vanilla bean cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting for him. I spent the week looking for a recipe using an actual vanilla bean as opposed to paste or extract and I ended up basing my cupcake recipe off of Annie’s Eats and the the frosting from Smitten Kitchen.

Adorable Valentine cupcake liners!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 16 tbsp. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk them.  In a large bowl, put in the butter, and cut open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the bowl, disregarding the pod. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition, then scraping down the sides of the bowl after each 1/4 cup.  Mix in the eggs one at a time and also scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a separate bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.

Vanilla beans courtesy of Whole Foods

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 15-18 (for mini-cupcakes) or 18-22 (for regular size cupcakes) minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tada! Vanilla bean cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 26 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

Simmer a pot of water and set a metal bowl on top to whisk the egg whites and sugar. Whisk until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

I didn't have a metal bowl... So I used a metal pan....

Transfer mixture into a bowl and mix it until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

Split open the vanilla bean and scrape in the seeds. Beat the mixture and add in a dash of vanilla.

Add the butter a stick at a time and mix until the frosting is smooth.

Frosty-sugary goodness

*Added from Smitten Kitchen: Deb note: Do not have a panic attack when this takes a while to come together (though I did every time). One super-large batch took 15 minutes, but it did and will come together. Patience, young Jedis.

This recipe made 12 regular size cupcakes, and 48 mini-cupcakes, plus a whole lot of leftover frosting. I missed the “whisk occasionally” memo on the frosting and continually beat the the egg white/sugar mixture while it was in the bowl over the water so the frosting turned out really fluffy and didn’t set fully. They turned out wonderful though, and Dan loved them! Now I have to wait a month to see how the beer is….

They taste much better than they look..

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