Vanilla Cupcakes

Are you the kind of person who hates piping frosting?  Too fiddly?

Or your baking is always rushed and you just don’t have the time to do it?

Piping bags?  What?  Maybe you don’t even own any piping bags or nozzles at all.

Or, like me, do you ALWAYS have them handy, until one day you go in search of a bag when you need it and realise you forgot to restock your supply?  It happens.

This one is for YOU.

Shoot, if you like fragrant vanilla cupcakes at all, this one is for you.

There is a lot of vanilla in these cupcakes, both in the cupcakes and the frosting.  The cupcakes are light and moist and the frosting is creamy, not too sweet, and out of this world deeeelicious.  It also doesn’t lend itself to piping too easily.  The luxuriousness of the frosting is due in part to the addition of cacao butter and a little white couverture, instead of butter, to what is essentially a cream cheese frosting.    The chocolate and cacao butter set very quickly at room temperature and so it is very easy to just spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a knife or offset spatula.  It becomes too stiff to pipe as it cools.  If you prefer to pipe the frosting simply omit the cacao butter.  But it really does add a beautiful flavour.

Be as deft with the knife as you like to get a lovely dome or other shape for the frosting.  This frosting will hold its shape very well but won’t set hard.  I kept it a little rough this time as I used half the batch to make Vanilla Freckle Cupcakes (recipe below).  The sprinkles look cute and colourful as they catch in all the nooks and crannies in the frosting.  Plus it allows you to get more sprinkles to adhere to the frosting.  More sprinkles is good, right?  😀

Visiting a friend for afternoon tea, these were perfect.  She has two small boys, both of whom were under the weather, and she was clearly worn out from rushing around and staying up most of the night.   I really hope they helped cheer her up a bit, plain vanilla grown up ones and some colourful white chocolate freckle cupcakes.  Happiness.

Enjoy 🙂

Makes 18 cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
185 grams sugar
185 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 vanilla beans or 3 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste
4 eggs (59 grams each)
175 grams plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

White Chocolate & Vanilla Frosting
40 grams white couverture
60 grams cacao butter*
100 grams icing sugar
250 grams cream cheese
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste

*I used organic raw cacao butter.  You can find this in many health food and organic specialty food stores.

Make the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Set 18 cupcake liners on a baking tray.

Cream together the sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer.  When light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved, add the eggs and beat until the batter is smooth.  Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the flour to the batter and mix until smooth and light.

Divide the batter between the 18 cupcake liners.  Bake at 180°C for 20 – 25 minutes.  When risen, golden, and cooked, remove the cupcakes from the oven.  Leave to cool completely on a wire rack until ready to frost.

Make the frosting
Melt the white couverture and cacao butter together in a bowl over hot water until almost all melted.  Remove from the heat and stir until fully melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Alternatively, you could zap it in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time, until melted.

Cream together the icing sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla, until light and creamy.  Fold through the chocolate and cacao butter, taking care not to over beat.

Work quickly with a knife or offset spatula to swirl the frosting on to each cupcake.

Un-frosted cupcakes will keep for several days, stored in an airtight container, at room temperature.  Frosted cupcakes can also be stored this way in cooler weather.  This is preferable to ensure that they don’t dry out.  In warmer weather, you can store frosted cupcakes in a container in the refrigerator, but they will lose some of their moistness.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Variation: Vanilla Freckle Cupcakes

These are really fun for children’s parties.  They are colourful and the vanilla flavour is usually loved by everyone.  The sprinkles I used here contain no gluten, and no artificial colours or flavours.  The colours are naturally a little more pastel than the usual neon-bright sprinkles one typically finds in the supermarket.

You will need:
For the cupcakes:
65 grams coloured sprinkles / “hundreds & thousands”

Prepare the batter as in the recipe above. Fold the sprinkles in to the cupcake batter at the end of mixing.  Bake as indicated above.
For the White Chocolate Freckles:
60 grams white couverture
extra sprinkles, for decoration

Melt the couverture over a bain-marie until smooth or zap in a microwave in 30 second bursts at 50% power until three-quarters melted.  Stir gently until melted and smooth.   Continue stirring gently until it cools slightly.

Pipe or spoon 18 x 1 cm rounds on to non-stick baking paper.  Sprinkle the coloured sprinkles over the chocolate rounds.  Cover and place in the refrigerator to set.  You can make the freckles ahead of time.

Frost the cupcakes as above.  Sprinkle additional coloured sprinkles over the frosting and top each cupcake with a white chocolate freckle.

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