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

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