3 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea Salt36

Posted by in Simple Recipe, Step-by-Step Photos, Vanilla (Saturday April 19, 2008 at 8:33 pm)

3 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla sea salt

One of my most favorite places to discover unique ingredients and find inspiration for my latest creation is Boulettes Larder. My recent visit turned up the very special sea salt used to garnish these cupcakes and a very delicious pasta dish that was well worth the 18 dollar Tuesday lunch splurge.

The vanilla cupcake recipe is a make-up for my bookkeeping mishap of this post. It’s close to the same recipe, slightly altered and I amped it up with more vanilla. The recipe contains vanilla in 3 forms – vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, and vanilla bean. Why 3 forms? Why not.

As you may recall, I did a side by side comparison of Martha’s and Amy’s vanilla cupcakes for this post. The end results of these two recipes are two very different vanilla cupcakes. One tastes better and has a more delicate texture (Amy’s) but is more difficult to execute. The other is fail safe, but dense and not as tasty.

I am looking to come up somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards the tasty/delicate end of the spectrum. I have also tested Magnolia’s recipe and Claire Crespo’s vanilla cupcake recipe. Based on my recollection and comparison of the recipes, Martha’s is the most dense/fail proof, Magnolia’s comes next (note: Billy’s is pretty much the same as Magnolia’s minus a few tweaks), then Claire’s, then Amy’s.

I, of course, am trying to come up with my own version… My goal is to be as close to the texture & taste of Amy’s, but without the execution challenges. So, the recipe below is probably the second or third try and I still have some work. This version is probably between Magnolia’s and Claire’s, but I want to be somewhere between Claire’s and Amy’s. Whew… That was likely confusing.

The vanilla sea salt is a nice touch. If you can’t find it, just find some high quality sea salt, and mix it with some vanilla bean seeds. The Chef at Boulettes gave me the low down as to where this salt came from – Anglesey, Wales – and how its made. Its made by a family on the beach by evaporating sea water in stainless steel vats. The sea salt is then stored with Tahitian vanilla bean in clay pots. Sounds nice…

vanilla sea salt
vanilla sea salt

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, split
1 pound sugar

1. Split the vanilla bean but don’t scrape out the seeds. Put it with the sugar in an airtight container. Store in a cupboard for around 5 days or more. Shake it up once in a while.

splitting vanilla bean
splitting the bean

3 Vanilla Cupcakes
20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-2/3 cups vanilla sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-2/3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

scraping vanilla seeds
scraping the seeds

Vanilla Bean Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
-4-5 cups powdered sugar

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble
1. Frost each cooled cupcake with a healthy mound of frosting.
2. Top with vanilla seat salt or whatever you so desire.

filling frosting bag
filling the bag

frosting
frosting the cupcakes

I should mention… You should actually save the vanilla beans you scrape the beans out of and also use those to make vanilla sugar or reuse in some way as there is likely a lot of life left in them. Reminded by this post

Cherry-Vanilla Cupcakes39

Posted by chockylit in Other Fruits, Simple Recipe (Thursday December 21, 2006 at 12:11 pm)

cherry-vanilla cupcakes

These cupcakes are sweet! Very appropriate for kids or adults with major sweet tooth. They are yummy, though. I love the filling, but I recommend cream cheese frosting if you plan to serve them to grownups. I also intended to have speckles of vanilla bean throughout the cupcake, but my vanilla beans were dried out! Oh well, next time for sure.

Have a happy holiday and see you all next year!

Cupcakes
22-24 regular cupcakes / 375-350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to mixer bowl. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix to combine.
5. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes).
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: These cupcakes tend to rise quite a bit and will overflow if you put too much batter in the cupcake paper. Keep it under two-thirds full. They also tend to pull away from the papers as they cool. It should be minimal if the cupcakes were baked enough and shouldn’t be an issue. (At least it isn’t for me.)

cooling cupcakes
cooling cupcake

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
6-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup milk

1. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
2. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy
3. Add half of the sugar, the vanilla and the milk. Beat until combined
4. Gradually add remaining sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Cherry Filling

2 cups cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Add cherries, water, and vanilla to a pot. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch then stir into the cherries.
3. Cook until thick, about 20 minutes.

cherry-vanilla filling
cherry-vanilla filling

Assemble
1. Fill each cupcake with filling. I used the “cone method”, but many methods will do.
2. Frost filled cupcakes.
3. Top with a rinsed and patted dry maraschino cherry.

cherry-vanilla cupcake

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting65

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Coconut, Simple Recipe (Tuesday November 7, 2006 at 9:53 pm)

old fashioned chocolate cupcake with coconut buttercream

I was simply in the mood for something simple. I figured it was a good time to start working on what I hope to become my favorite old-fashioned chocolate cupcake recipe. I already have a rich chocolate cupcake recipe I love that I have used a lot this past year, but sometimes I want something that reminds me of the chocolate cake I ate as a kid.

This is the recipe I normally use, which is a slight variation from a recipe in an old Better Homes & Garden cookbook my mom had forever. While I think the recipe is very “old-fashioned” I did want to give it a boost and enhance the chocolate flavor.

I started with the recipe above but adjusted some ratios which really involved adding an egg, more butter, and more cocoa. I also added instant espresso powder as I saw this in a number of old-fashioned or devil’s food type recipes. Lastly instead of the “dump it all in one bowl and mix” method, I decided on using the typical creaming method which involves creaming butter with sugar, adding eggs, then alternating dry and wet ingredients.

Ultimately the cupcakes came out great. The flavor is indeed richer and more chocolatey while not super intense. The cocoa and milk keep it mellow. The texture is somewhat spongy, but not as spongy as a sponge cake. It is moist enough, but the kind of cake you want to eat with a glass of milk. I think I will decrease the amount of espresso powder in subsequent tests as I could kind of taste the coffee and only really want to taste chocolate.

One last thing before I get on to the recipe. As you may have noticed my posting frequency dropped off somewhat this month. I am afraid that posting will be intermittent over the next couple months. I promise to pick it up as soon as I can.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa powdered
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition.
3. Measure the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure the milk and vanilla into a measuring thing.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 3/4’s full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: I try to use the best quality cocoa I can find. It makes a huge difference. For this recipe I used Valrhona cocoa.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting
1-1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups coconut, sweetened flaked

1. Beat butter briefly, scrape bowl.
2. Add the sifted powdered sugar and milk. Beat until smooth.
3. Add coconut and mix until combined.

Assemble
1. Top cooled cupcakes with coconut-buttercream frosting.
2. Top with chocolate shavings.

cupcakes

Fresh Pumpkin Cupcakes with White Chocolate Chunks and Cream Cheese Frosting77

Posted by chockylit in Cheese, Chocolate, General, Simple Recipe, Spices, Squashes & Gourds (Sunday October 22, 2006 at 11:35 am)

fresh pumpkin and white chocolate cupcake

A very good friend came to my house, made a mess of my kitchen making pumpkin muffins and left me with tons of leftover pumpkin meat. The nerve! So, what did I do? Make pumpkin cupcakes, of course.

This is a relatively simple recipe, easy to do, but yummy none the less. Very much like a carrot cake, the pumpkin flavor is subtle and the spices stand out. The cupcakes are not very sweet so the addition of the white chocolate is nice while not being overbearing. I topped them off with a standard cream cheese frosting from a recipe that can be found elsewhere on the blog.

Just a simple, tasty recipe for those leftover pumpkins…

I wanted to mention a couple of other things while I am at it…

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the Worldis a new and unique cupcake cookbook with all vegan recipes. I contributed a recipe for vegan lychee-coconut cupcakes that can be found on page 122. I haven’t received my copy yet, so I can’t tell you much more about it, but I am really looking forward to checking it out. For those of you that have asked about dairy or egg-free recipes, this is the cookbook for you. I also hear that there are some gluten-free recipes as well.

I got an email about a new product. I rarely mention these types of things on the blog, as there are other venues for that, but I am terribly excited about this one. The Cupcake Courier seems like the perfect answer to, “How am I going to get a load of cupcakes to work without damaging them?” Normally I buy the disposable, plastic cupcake containers, but still need to find an appropriately sized bag, etc. I am really looking forward to seeing how well this works for carting cupcakes on the Vespa.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups shredded fresh pumpkin
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1. Cut open a pumpkin, take out the seeds and inner flesh, then chop into manageable chunks. Grate the pumpkin chunks, skin and all, with a box grated or food processor until you have four cups of grated flesh.
2. Measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Measure the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla into a large size bowl and stir to combine.
4. Add about a fourth of the dry mixture to the wet and stir to combine. Continue adding in fourths until all the dry is incorporated. The result with be a very thick batter (and a sore arm).
5. Fold in the pumpkin and chocolate chunks into the batter and scoop into cupcake papers about 2/3s full.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Assemble
1. Top cooled cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
2. I decorated the cupcakes with store bought pumpkin candies for the sake of time (and because I actually love/hate those both those and candy corn), but you could always get creative with marzipan if you have the time and inclination.

fresh pumpkin and white chocolate cupcakes

Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcake67

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Indian-Inspired, Simple Recipe, Spices (Monday May 29, 2006 at 2:47 pm)

chocolate chai spice cupcake

I must admit… I almost felt like I was cheating with this recipe. I used my current favorite chocolate recipe and added a few teaspoons of ground up spices – that was it!

But while the approach was straight forward, the result was great. The spices shown through the flavor of the chocolate just enough to add complexity and interest to the experience. The moist chocolatey goodness of the cake can live on its own, but ultimately, the frosting is what makes it a cupcake and the simple chai spice buttercream was a great addition. Not too overwhelming, but enhancing the flavor all the more. (I added a bit extra minced fresh ginger which was a nice touch.)

Just goes to show you… with a great base recipe and a rummage through the spice rack or pantry, anyone can come up with an interesting and tasty concoction. Days later, my husband is still talking about them and they seemed to be a hit at the art opening I made them for.

Chai Spice Mix

2 teaspoons fennel, whole
2 teaspoons cloves, whole
1 tablespoon cardamom, ground
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons ginger, ground

1. With a small food processor, grind up the whole fennel and cloves.
2. Transfer to a small bowl and add remaining spices. Mix to combine.

chai spice mix
chai spice mix

Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao
3 sticks butter
2-1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons chai spice mix
pinch of salt

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, chai spice mix, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.
7. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

chocolate chai spice cupcake
cooling cupcake

Chai Spice Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons chai spice mix
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1. Beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl.
2. Add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, spice mix, and ginger. Beat until combined.
3. Add more powdered sugar as needed to get piping consistency.

Note: Everyone’s personal preferences differ. With frosting, the flavor is up to you. If you are unsure of how much of a chai flavor you want, start light on the spices and add a teaspoon at a time until you get to a flavor you like. Same goes for the sugar. It’s a matter of taste and what consistency you want to work with. Experiment until you get at what works for you.

Assemble
1. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

frosted chocolate chai spice cupcakes
assembled cupcakes

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes Filled with Chocolate-Mint Ganache with Topped with Mint Buttercream78

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Herbs & Flowers, Simple Recipe (Sunday March 26, 2006 at 6:39 pm)

Chocolate and mint are a great combination, especially when you use fresh mint. I used chopped mint leaves steeped in cream to make the ganache filling. It is addictive on its own and I love the grassy taste of fresh mint.

The cupcakes are a slight variation on the recipe I have been using lately. The texture is a little less brownie like, but dense, moist, and not-to-sweet chocolatey, just like I like.

I opted for peppermint extract for the frosting. I was doubtful of the outcome, but went easy on the extract and was very happy with the results. I am allowing myself only a half of one of these which I will eat later, so I will have to update the post with the “tasting notes” of the end result.

Update: I ate my half a cupcake…
I have tasted a number of cupcakes in the past year and am a little jaded, you could say. But the combination of the cake and frosting in this recipe is amazing. I could have had a whole one. I will be honest, you can skip the filling and keep it simple, the cake and frosting alone make one hell of a tasty cupcake.

Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cocao
3 sticks butter
2-1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

1. chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. remove from heat and stir in sugar. let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
6. sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.
7. scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


cupcakes cooling

Chocolate-Mint Ganache

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

1. chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. heat cream and 1/4 cup mint until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream through strainer, over the chocolate.
3. let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. add butter and the remaining teaspoon of chopped mint and stir until combined.
5. let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken, 30 minutes to 1 hour.


filling pastry bag


frosting cupcakes

Mint Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon all natural peppermint extract
1. beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl.
2. add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract, beat until combined.
3. add more powdered sugar as needed to get piping consistency.

Note: I tried to keep the mint flavor subtle and not too overpowering. I recommend starting on the light side with 1/8 teaspoon or less and tasting to get the flavor you want.

Assemble
1. stuff the cupcakes with ganache using the cone method (cut out a cone shape from the top, cut off the pointy cone part, stuff the whole with filling, then put the top back on)
2. frost them.
3. top with something green (if you want), like a mint leaf, green candy, or whatever you fancy.

Recipe: Devil’s Food Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream94

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Simple Recipe (Friday June 3, 2005 at 10:30 am)


I made these cupcakes for my friend’s birthday. Very simple, classic recipe, but made with the best ingredients I could find. They were a hit at the party.

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake
makes 24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Measure out everything but the eggs directly into your mixer bowl.
2. Mix on low speed just until incorporated.
3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs, beat on high speed again for 2 minutes.

Measure out into cupcake pan lined with cupcake papers. A 2″ ice cream scoop works great for this. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream
enough to lightly frost 24 cupcakes

1 stick butter
1/2 cup cocoa
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
~1/4 cup milk

1. Beat butter on high for about 30 seconds until soft.
2. Add cocoa and 1 cup of sugar and beat until incorporated
3. Add half of the milk and the remainder of sugar and beat until incorporated.
4. Continue to add milk until you get to the consistency you want.

Assemble
There are many ways to go here, in this case, I simply piped the frosting onto the cupcakes with a large star tip.

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