Thursday, February 14, 2013

What's Baking: Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Icing

I think my most memorable Valentine's Day was in the first grade, when I received a Superwoman valentine's card from one of my classmates with the message "You stink!" scribbled on the back. I totally don't remember that classmate's name, but I do remember the card he gave me. Ah well ... fast forward (cough, many, cough) years, and luckily the valentine's cards I receive these days have much nicer messages.

For Valentine's Day this year, I opted to make some sweet treats for D to share with his officemates. I borrowed the Joy the Baker Cookbook from the library again (I really ought to purchase my own copy; there are so many good things in there!), and adapted her simple vanilla cupcakes recipe to make a large batch of mini cupcakes. Oh, are these delicious! I have to admit I saved a couple to enjoy with a cup of tea later today as a little Valentine's treat for myself.

Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes (printer-friendly version)
 makes 30 mini cupcakes

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup organic skim milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, use a whisk to sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
4. Add in the egg and egg white one at a time, beating between additions to incorporate.
5. Beat in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.
6. Add about half the flour mixture and stir on low speed until incorporated. Stir in the milk. Then add in the rest of the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
7. Give the batter a quick stir with a spatula, then divide evenly among the cupcake liners.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick entered into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
9. Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Then remove the cupcakes from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

(adapted from a recipe in the Joy the Baker Cookbook)

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Icing (printer-friendly version)
makes enough to ice 30 mini cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon organic skim milk

1. Use an electric mixer to whip the butter at high speed for about five minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed.
2. Gradually add in the powdered sugar at low speed, then add in the vanilla extract and vanilla beans and switch to high speed.
3. Add in the skim milk and continue mixing until incorporated and the icing is light and fluffy.
4. Use immediately. Any leftover icing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Re-whip before using.

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