Valentine’s Day Vanilla Cupcakes

Ok I have a confession to make. I’m in love with these vanilla cupcakes.

Vanilla cupcake with butter frosting closeup

So I know that Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday, but these vanilla cupcakes are so simple to make and they make a great gift for your loved ones. I’m always on the search for a great vanilla cake recipe, and since I baked my famous Chewy Chocolate Chip Brownies last year for my friends I decided to bake the best vanilla cupcakes this year. I stumbled upon the Cupcake Project‘s recipe called “The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake – Test Baked by 50 Bakers and Counting”. I was so excited to try them out! The reviews were great and the recipe called for vanilla beans.

The cake recipe is very simple and it contains basic ingredients such as oil, sugar, and cake flour (which I replaced with all-purpose flour and cornstarch). The vanilla bean frosting requires vanilla bean paste, but you can always replace this ingredient with a vanilla bean. It’s important to use the best quality ingredients in all of your baking endeavors.

I am really happy with how they turned out! The texture of the cake was great, so moist and fluffy. The frosting was delicious and heavenly, it tasted just like vanilla ice cream *swoon*. For the mini red hearts, I made some icing, added some liquid red coloring, piped them on a baking sheet, and popped them in the fridge. (watch this video to learn how to pipe using a Ziploc bag)

This recipe yields 18 vanilla cupcakes. I think it pairs lovely with any frosting flavor but I decided to try the Vanilla Bean frosting for the ultimate vanilla experience.

Ingredients: Adapted from Cupcake Project
1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 cup cornstarch (half a 1/4 cup)
1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
1 tablespoon pure liquid vanilla extract
2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. (Watch this video to learn how to get the seeds out of the bean.)
Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes (you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture).
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.  The batter will be liquid.
Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it.  The cupcakes should appear white, NOT a golden brown.  If they are not done, test again every two minutes.
When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack or on your counter to cool.

Vanilla Bean Frosting: (Frosts 16 cupcakes)
3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (I got my Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste from here), or substitute with a vanilla bean
2+1/2 tablespoons milk

Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy.
Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste, or more confectioners’ sugar to make it stiffer.

Vanilla Cupcakes for Valentine's day

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