Vanilla beans make me so happy. When I buy them, I feel like a little kid with a tiny treasure that needs to be guarded and saved for a special occasion. At the same time, I have to restrain myself from immediately thinking of dozens of recipes that I just have to make so I can use them.
Two friends in my small group from church had a birthday recently and I volunteered to bring cupcakes to celebrate. With some extra time on my hands I really wanted to make these cupcakes special. Hmm...sounds like a perfectly good excuse to bust out those vanilla beans!
|Look at all those gorgeous seeds from the vanilla bean!|
I then began my search for a good vanilla cupcake recipe. First stop, my Martha cupcake book. Nope....didn't see anything that really seemed to fit the bill. Next, visited my usual blog stops. While I did find some tempting recipes there, I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. I knew there needed to be buttermilk involved and I wanted the recipe to really feature a vanilla flavor and create a tender, moist cake. I turned to my dear friend, Mr. Google.
Bingo. I stumbled upon this recipe from Annie's Eats, a blog I'd never visited before. I could tell from first glance that this recipe was just right...and it was. Oh, it was.
The result was a tender, slightly spongy cake with beautiful flecks of vanilla bean speckled throughout. I knew it needed an equally delicious frosting, so I came up with this vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Delicious!
Yay for vanilla beans!!
...oh, and don't even think about throwing away those vanilla beans once the seeds are scraped out. (Sorry, did I use my teacher voice?) Make vanilla sugar! It's so easy...
Just plop those vanilla beans into a jar (I had to slice them in half to make them fit) and then fill the jar with sugar. Try to avoid spilling the sugar all over the floor, like I did. Tighten the lid, give a little shake and then wait a few weeks. You'll have vanilla flavored sugar that can be used wherever you'd use regular granulated sugar.
Did I mention I love vanilla beans?