Last summer, my girls spent many mornings home alone while I travelled around the city caddying (I use that term VERY lightly) for my son in his junior golf tournaments. Although I felt bad leaving them behind, they actually enjoyed their alone time and took full advantage of having the kitchen all to themselves. While I didn’t allow them to cook on the gas stovetop while I was away, they had my blessing to microwave and bake to their hearts’ content. And bake they did! Each day, Brennan and I would return home to find mass quantities of scrumptious cookies, cakes, muffins and cupcakes covering the counters. Overall, their golf-day projects were a success. What’s even more impressive is that about ninety percent of what they made was from scratch–nice to know they have some of their momma’s genes. One memorable sweet treat was their “Sprinkles Cupcakes.” These were basically their spin on funfetti cupcakes. They used my basic vanilla cupcake recipe as their base and added sprinkles to the batter and frosting. They were adorable and tasty (unfortunately, no one thought to take pictures before they were devoured–not sure how that detail escaped them). Blair also turned to this recipe when she decided to make her own multi-colored, multi-layered birthday cake (we got several pictures of that one).
That’s the beauty of this batter. It’s so versatile. You can prepare it as is or use the batter as a starting point for more exciting creations. Being that I’m a vanilla girl, I like to prepare this recipe straight up in muffin tins and top each cupcake with a rich and airy vanilla frosting. I call these Double Vanilla Cupcakes. And I can dress them up to fit any occasion by baking them in appropriately themed cupcake liners and decorating them with matching sprinkles or other festive toppings. The ones pictures above are my Easter cupcakes which are decked out in bright, spring colors and accessorized with purple, green and gold sprinkles which I just so happen to have leftover from Mardi Gras. Although they’re considered “plain vanilla” by most standards, these cupcakes are sure to make a lasting impression.
Double Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 large egg whites
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-6 tablespoons whole milk
Decorative colored sugars (optional)
FOR THE CUPCAKES: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with decorative paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and egg whites. In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and one-third of the flour mixture; continue beating on medium speed until incorporated. Gradually add remaining flour mixture alternating with remaining egg mixture; beat just until blended. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack; let cool completely.
FOR THE FROSTING: In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually add powdered sugar; beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla extract, salt and 3 tablespoons milk; beat for 3 minutes. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons milk until you reach desired consistency. Increase speed and beat until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Pipe or spread equal amounts of frosting onto each cupcake. Sprinkle lightly with decorative sugars. Makes 24 cupcakes.