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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Servings: Makes 12 cupcakes
These scrumptious cupcakes have a double dose of vanilla, in the cupcake batter and in the frosting. If you are a vanilla lover (as I am), you will love the wonderful vanilla flavor (using both vanilla extract and vanilla beans). If you like, you can decorate these little cakes with sprinkles or edible flowers (or whatever you like) or just simply frost them. They're lovely either way.

I have given you 2 Vanilla Bean Buttercream frosting variations. One makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes and the other makes enough for 12 cupcakes. Use whichever one you like. Both are delicious.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz./170g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved, beans discarded
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups; set aside.

Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg whites, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds; mix until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; mix until just combined.

Divide batter among paper baking cups in muffin pan, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven until very light golden brown, approximately 24-27 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely. Frost with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting. Cupcakes can be stored, covered loosely with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes

This makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes. Since the above cupcake recipe makes just 12 cupcakes, you may either store the unused frosting in the refrigerator for another use, or cut the recipe in half to frost the above 12 cupcakes.

1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved, beans discarded
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
4 cups confectioners' sugar (16 ounces/440 grams), plus more if necessary

Cream the butter in a medium-size bowl until very smooth. Stir in the reserved vanilla bean seeds until they're evenly distributed. Add the salt and milk, and stir until combined. Sift the sugar over the butter mixture and stir the mixture until it's perfectly smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add a few more tablespoons of confectioners' sugar, and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap until you're ready to use; mix well just before using for frosting the cupcakes.

Alternate Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

If you prefer to skip the vanilla bean, increase the extract to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Buttercream frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated; if refrigerated, however, it must stand at room temperature to soften before use. If using a hand-held mixer, increase mixing times significantly (at least 50 percent). This recipe can be doubled to make enough for a two-layer cake.

Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for 12 cupcakes

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks/5 oz./140g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Using paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Date: June 9, 2007