Baker’s Delight: Vanilla Cupcakes

This week, I set out on a mission to find  a vanilla cupcake recipe for my oldest son’s birthday. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Reviews on nearly every vanilla (or white) cake recipe are mixed – some love it, some hate it, some think it’s light, some think it’s dense…you get the idea. And let’s be honest, not everyone is a competent baker, so it’s hard to know which reviews to trust!

Finally, I deicided to just jump in and try a recipe. Bobby Flay had one which I adapted to work for me. The texture was lovely and the flavor was quite good. The chocolate frosting he included was delicious as well – a frosting recipe unlike any I have ever made. These definitely got the seal of approval from my family and the birthday boy loved them! They would also make a beautiful Easter or spring dessert.

VANILLA CUPCAKES
(adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mini Vanilla Bean Cupcakes)
Print These Recipes

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1Tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Creamy Chocolate Frosting, recipe follows
Sprinkles for decorating, if desired

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill muffin tins with liners .

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks in a medium bowl.

In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside. Wash the bowl and dry.

Add the flour mixture to the now-empty mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, and then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain.

Fill the cupcake molds 3/4 full and bake until just firm, about 18-22 minutes. Let cool and frost with Creamy Chocolate Frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

CREAMY CHOCOLATE FROSTING
(Adapted from Bobby Flay at FoodNetwork.com – adaptations noted)

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (I used dark chocolate cocoa powder)
 Pinchof fine sea salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted this since I was making them for kids but it would have been a fantastic addition!)

In a food processor (or using a mixer), process the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then add the melted chocolate and espresso and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds.

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My Kitchen View

Welcome to the first edition of My Kitchen View. My hope is to include recipes, garden reports and produce pictures, food or restaurant reviews, and more. It’s literally my view from the kitchen and figuratively my perspective on the happenings in and around the kitchen.

The kitchen is truly the heart of our home. We spend a lot of time there preparing food, eating, and sharing around the table. It is where the delicious smells emanate from and my creative juices flow. When the weather is warm, we eagerly move out to the deck and enjoy the outdoor table and grill overlooking the backyard and neighborhood pond. 

Garden Report:
I’m a little late on starting to plan our garden but time has gotten away from me! I’m looking forward to my annual plant purchasing trip – something about wandering through the rows of plants, gazing at the packets of seeds, and just smelling the dirt is incredibly motivational. This year, I’m planning 3-4 varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, onions, green beans, cucumbers, zuchini, and yellow squash as well as a several different herbs. I’m sure there will be a few more things added to that list.  

My favorite part is the herbs! I love cooking with fresh herbs and most of them are fairly easy to grow. I get so excited to plant them. I’m not sure what all I will grow but it will definitely include cilantro, rosemary, basil, mint, parsley, and oregano. My chives and thyme have come back every year. I may also add sage and dill to that list. I can’t wait to add the fragrant plants to my backyard garden!

What’s Cooking:
A couple of weeks ago, I shared a recipe for Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes which I loved but I couldn’t help but continue developing that recipe in my head. And so for Easter, I made a 4 layer Key Lime White Chocolate Cake. I filled two of the layers with homemade lime curd and I filled the middle layer with white chocolate lime frosting. I iced it in a lime buttercream and garnished it with lime zest and white chocolate curls. It was a bit of work but it was completely worth it! Everyone enjoyed it and I discovered how much I like making cakes from scratch!

KEY LIME WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE
Print This Recipe

1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tb. grated key lime zest
1/4 c. fresh key lime juice
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 oz. white chocolate, finely grated

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 2 – 8 inch cake pans and if desired, line bottom with parchment paper.

Using an mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, key lime zest and juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 5 parts total, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in the white chocolate.

Divide batter between two greased 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops begin to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on a baking rack to cool completely. Makes 2 – 8 inch layers.

WHITE CHOCOLATE KEY LIME FROSTING
(you may not need all of this)

3 oz. white chocolate
1/4 c. butter, room temperature
 2 – 2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. fresh key lime juice
1/8 c. sour cream

In a small bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Let cool until just slightly warm. Meanwhile, using a hand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add the salt, vanilla extract, key lime juice, and sour cream and mix until very smooth. Add the melted white chocolate and mix just until incorporated.

KEY LIME CURD 
I wanted to eat this lime curd with a spoon. It was absolutely delicious! I adapted a lemon curd recipe from Ina Garten into this wonderful, creamy lime curd. (Note: This makes a lot – I cut the recipe in half and had more than enough for the cake!)

4 limes 
3/4 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 c. lime juice (about 3 to 4 limes)
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Completely zest all three limes – avoiding the white pithy areas. Stir into sugar. Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lime mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lime juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lime curd will thicken just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd before refrigerating.

KEY LIME BUTTERCREAM1 1/4 c. butter, room temperature
2 1/2 lb. (about 10 c.) powdered sugar
1/2 c. key lime juice
2 Tb. grated key lime zest

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar alternately with key lime juice until light and creamy. Add lime zest and beat until combined.

To Assemble:
– Cut the two layers in half crosswise so you have 4 equal layers.
– Place the bottom layer on a plate and spread with lime curd.
– Top with the next cake and spread with white chocolate lime frosting.
– Top with the final layer and spread with lime curd.
– Frost the cake with lime buttercream icing.
– Swirl the frosting and top with white chocolate curls and fresh key lime zest.

Holidays: Easter Dessert

I just love that cupcakes are so popular these days. The delicious, sweet, mini cakes make a beautiful presentation and are perfect for holidays, birthdays, company, dessert buffets, and more. Today I’m sharing two recipes for homemade cupcakes.

These key lime cupcakes are amazing. If you only make one of these recipes, make these. They are fabulous! I think they are probably my most favorite cupcake ever.


KEY LIME COCONUT CUPCAKES w/WHITE CHOCOLATE LIME FROSTING
(adapted slightly from foodnetwork.com)
Print This Recipe

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 heaping tsp. grated key lime zest
2 Tb. key lime juice (I used  freshly squeezed)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/3 c. loosely packed sweetened coconut flakes

White Chocolate Lime Frosting:
5 oz. white chocolate (I used Baker’s)
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
3 1/2 – 4 c. powdered sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tb. key lime juice (I used freshly squeezed)
1/4 c. sour cream
Finely grated key lime zest, for garnish
Shredded, sweetened coconut, for garnish
White chocolate, grated, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Using an mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, key lime zest and juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 5 parts total, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold the coconut into the cupcake batter.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill each liner 3/4 full. A spring loaded 1/4 cup ice cream scoop works great for this and ensures the cupcakes are all the same size. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops begin to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to a baking rack to cool completely. Makes 14 cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the frosting. In a small heat proof bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Let cool until just slightly warm. Meanwhile, using a hand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add the salt, vanilla extract, key lime juice, and sour cream and mix until very smooth. Add the melted white chocolate and mix just until incorporated. Pipe icing on to the cupcakes and garnish with sweetened, shredded coconut, shaved white chocolate, and grated lime zest.

These vanilla cupcakes were moist and delicious! I used a simple vanilla buttercream to frost them and topped them with a white chocolate covered strawberry. My kids decorated their cupcakes with spring colored sprinkles.

VANILLA CUPCAKES
(adapted from foodnetwork.com)
Print This Recipe

1 3/4 c. cake flour
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, cut into cubes
4 eggs
1 c. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.

Combine in a bowl both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed until combined for about 3 minutes. Add in cubed butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

Add eggs 1 at a time until combined. Slowly add milk and vanilla to batter until completely mixed scraping down the bowl as you mix.

Scoop batter into baking cups filling about 2/3-3/4  full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Frost with your favorite icing. I made buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/2 c. butter, melted
4-5 c. powdered sugar
dash of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
milk – to reach desired consistency

Combine all with a hand mixer. Add food coloring if desired. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.