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.

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 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

36 comments for 3 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea Salt »

  1. As always, YUM!

    Comment by Kendra — April 19, 2008 @ 11:55 pm

  2. That frosting looks delicious, can’t wait to try it!

    Comment by Tash Jeffery — April 20, 2008 @ 12:46 am

  3. ‘healthy mound of frosting’- mmmmmm. sounds goood, a vanilly cheese frosting :) one question – what size tip do you normally use for piping on your frostings?

    the cupcakes look so pretty and elegant!
    hope you’re going to be succesful soon on your quest for the perfect vanilla cupcake!

    (btw i’m making the plain&simple chocolate cupcakes of yours again today :P)

    Comment by wendy — April 20, 2008 @ 1:50 am

  4. Cheryl,

    Now I have a wonderful recipe to use my vanilla salt! Here is where I get mine. Didi is a wonderful lady who would give you the shirt off her back. Check out her products. They are amazing. Thanks so much for posting these. I’ll get baking!



    Comment by Primethyme — April 20, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  5. An absolute inspiration–I love the slightly salty-sweet and richly vanilla flavor that this is conjuring in my mind…and as for a healthy mound of frosting–yes please!

    Comment by Cakespy — April 20, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  6. Wow! This recipe has replaced my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe. They were fluffy and yummy…and fool proof! How do I know? Because this fool added too much flour but they still turned out perfect. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

    Comment by JaySpice — April 20, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  7. i have never heard of vanilla sea salt… that’s why i love your blog! this looks so fragant… right up my alley. i just posted about my love for vanilla. i wish i could smell your kitchen after you made these. beautiful!

    Comment by Aran — April 20, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  8. Wow – can’t wait to try these!

    Comment by Jenn Sedor — April 20, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  9. Yay! These look and sound delicious. I can’t wait to try them out!

    Comment by Maddi — April 20, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

  10. I LOVE salty sweets. Very excited to try these.

    Comment by MissK — April 20, 2008 @ 8:05 pm

  11. a healthy mound of frosting is always ok in my book!

    Comment by Amanda — April 20, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

  12. These do look heavenly. I’ll be trying that frosting for sure.

    Comment by Rachel — April 20, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

  13. Wonder how difficult it would be to make my own vanilla sea salt…

    Comment by Nicole — April 21, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

  14. I just came across Boulettes over the weekend. Not in person just on the web. Lucky you, as it looked fantastic. Is my imagination or are your cupcakes looking better and better and better………..
    Always an inspiration.

    Comment by Kim — April 21, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  15. Wow, this is the first i’ve heard of vanilla salt, I’m going to have to find some now!

    Comment by Marc @ NoRecipes — April 21, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  16. This looks great – I’m going to order some of the salt now (directly from the producers seeing as I’m in the UK). I’m fascinated by the sugar/salt combinations. They say that processed foods do this all the time to stimulate all the different kinds of taste buds on your tongue – why shouldn’t home cooks do likewise?

    Here’s a link to the producers

    Comment by Lucy — April 22, 2008 @ 6:22 am

  17. I, too, have tried the magnolia vanilla cupcakes and I’ll try yours, too. I love the compare/contrast of recipes. Science and art combined, isn’t it?

    Comment by Marce — April 22, 2008 @ 6:27 am

  18. Wow, you’re so creative!

    Comment by Dessert Obsessed — April 23, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

  19. These are simply beautiful! What size tip do you use pipe the frosting on?

    Comment by bettyagnes — April 24, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

  20. Thank you for elevating the poor vanilla cupcake :) They often get such a bad rap.

    Comment by Culinary Cowgirl — April 25, 2008 @ 12:17 am

  21. i just got vanilla bean paste from WS i am dying to use!!

    speaking of vanilla cupcakes, i also have been experimenting and trying different recipes. i want a very light yet fluffy vanilla cupcake that is very strong vanilla…i have found the best thus far is to use buttermilk instead of regular milk and use a LOT of vanilla as it tends to ‘bake out’ flavorwise. i started with billy’s recipe and just kept adapting til i got a cake i really love.

    by the way what tip do you use to frost, the 1M or a larger star?

    Comment by Mara — April 26, 2008 @ 11:05 pm

  22. We sell the vanilla salt (it is made by the folks at Anglesey in Wales) under the name Taha’a Vanilla Salt. The name derives from the specific type of vanilla used in the salt. This is a the most beautiful (and really the only in its class), with gorgeous crunchy flake crystals and a delicate flavor. If it helps anyone, here is a link: http://www.atthemeadow.com/salt/tahaa_vanilla.htm
    It goes great on creme brulee as well, not to mention flambeed bananas, and even savories like scallops and lobster.

    Comment by Mark Bitterman — April 27, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

  23. Some of the simplest flavors are also the most elegant and tasty. These are lovely. I’ve never even heard of vanilla sea salt, nor has it ever occurred to me to add vanilla to sea salt! Thank you for the lovely tips. Also, the idea of reusing the vanilla bean instead of discarding it is a great one!

    Comment by Sophie — April 28, 2008 @ 7:19 am

  24. What size tip are you using to frost the cupcakes? I can’t tell, and would love to frost cupcakes like that.


    Comment by Christine — April 29, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  25. I love your photography!

    Comment by CaraCakes — May 1, 2008 @ 7:08 am

  26. Your blog is wonderful. Just what I needed today.
    I have featured you today on Today’s Creative Blog.
    If you want the blinkie that all featured bloggers receive, please email me.

    Comment by kim in Camas - ScrapToMyLu — May 6, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  27. Wow, your cupcakes look amazing, they are so beautiful. Gotta try this recepice and the chocoalte toffee bacon one as well.

    I have only one simple queastion. Where do you buy your cups from? Can you order them online? You see, I live in Norway, and there is hardly no place to buy supplies.


    Comment by susan — March 30, 2010 @ 2:07 am

  28. I buy them here. Genpak is the best brand that I have used.

    Comment by chockylit — March 30, 2010 @ 7:40 am

  29. Thanks
    Awesome post – i’m creating video about it and i will post it to dailymotion !
    if you think to help or just need a link send me email !

    Comment by Watch movies — March 31, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  30. i didnt try the frosting…but damn! the cake itself is FANTASTIC!

    Comment by deedee — June 21, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  31. Hi,
    I try the Amy Sedaris recipe and they taste good. My only complaint is that when the cupcakes are cooled, they shrink (in height and from the sides) and I don’t like how they look. I fill them with batter till 2/3 full and I tried to fill more but they would overflow.

    I use the same type of cups as you do, but all your cupcakes come out nicely filled. Just hope you can tell me why?

    Comment by Bimmer — September 23, 2010 @ 12:06 am

  32. I try the Amy Sedaris recipe and they taste good. My only complaint is that when the cupcakes are cooled, they shrink (in height and from the sides) and I don’t like how they look. I fill them with batter till 2/3 full and I tried to fill more but they would overflow.

    Comment by download itunes free — December 12, 2010 @ 7:14 am

  33. oh i love vanilla and this recipe was just what i needed.

    Comment by emery cat — April 1, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

  34. Great recipe. When do you put in the vanilla bean seeds?

    Comment by in search of the perfert cupcake — April 9, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  35. to those who has tried the cupcake Does this cake come out dense or light and fluffy.appreciate if you could reply

    Comment by pearse — November 18, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  36. I made the cupcakes last night for a V-Day party tonight.
    Thank you!
    I only had Madagascar vanilla, so I just dumped in a bunch. ;)
    Will frost tonight with simple, decadent butter cream.

    Comment by Lara — February 14, 2013 @ 7:58 am

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