Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

I am very blessed to have two of my best friends expecting babies next month. And I have also had the pleasure of attending multiple showers and “sprinkles” over the past few weeks.  It’s such a fun experience to share the joy of a new baby with my friends.

My friend, Kelli, is due at the end of April, and this is her first baby.  She and Jason have decided not to know the gender of the little baby-to-be, so this new addition will be even more exciting for them.  She asked me to provide cupcakes for one of her showers, and I was delighted to make them.  I sent her a list of about 25 cupcake flavors about a month ago to choose from (I have to say I was also very excited about the opportunity to try out a new recipe for such a special occasion), and she chose Vanilla Almond cupcakes.

I knew I was going to go all out with these: real vanilla beans, European-style butter, pure almond extract, fresh organic eggs-I wanted to use the best ingredients I could find. I doubled the recipe for a yield of 48 cupcakes total-feel free to halve the recipe for your standard 24.

What can I say about these cupcakes?  Well, the fact that I am posting them as soon as I possibly can after making them is a sign.  They are dense, almost like a pound cake-with a distinct almond flavor.  The rose buttercream piping?  Simple.  Using a Wilton #2D flower piping tip, start your piping in the center of each cupcake, and then gradually pipe your way in concentric circles out to the periphery (clock-wise or counter-clock-wise, whatever you like).  The end result got a lot of compliments, and the cake part got just as many, too.

And, as a sidenote:  Today is my father’s (and his identical twin brother, Rob) 59th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you!

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

Servings: 48 cupcakes

 

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

5 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 whole vanilla beans, split length-wise and seeds reserved

8 large eggs

4 egg yolks

3 cups whole milk

For the Vanilla Almond Buttercream:

3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 vanilla bean, split length-wise and seeds reserved

2 teaspoons almond extract

Instructions:

1. For the cupcakes: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing well.

4. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

5. Slowly add in the granulated sugar, almond extract, and vanilla bean seeds and mix until well-combined, about 2 more minutes.

6. Add the egg yolks, and mix well.

7.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

8.  Add the flour and milk mixtures alternatively (start and end with the flour mixture) to the mixing bowl at low speed, mixing until the flour is just combined.

9. Evenly distribute the batter among the prepared baking pans.

10.  Bake for 20 minutes total, rotating the pans halfway during the baking time.

11.  When a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.

12.  For the buttercream frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

13. Reduce your mixer speed to low, and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar slowly, making sure to frequently increase the speed of the mixer for about 10 seconds increments to aerate the frosting.

14. Add the vanilla bean seeds and almond extract, mixing well, until frosting is smooth and creamy.

Sources: Vanilla Almond Cupcakes adapted from How to Eat a Cupcake (originally from Favorite Brand Recipes) and Frosting adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

 

March 20, 2011 - 8:02 am

notyet100 - luv the cupcake nd the frosting nd everythin

March 20, 2011 - 8:38 am

branny - That is one of the most beautiful frosting jobs I’ve ever seen.

March 20, 2011 - 9:02 am

Liz - Happy birthday to your dad!!!

Oh, do I have piping envy. I do own that tip, but fail miserably at making a decently piped cupcake…yours look fabulous! Just perfect…

March 20, 2011 - 1:50 pm

Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust - These look so good! I love almond flavor, so I will surely be making them soon!

March 20, 2011 - 3:45 pm

Victoria - You have to blog about your piping, it is incredible, you must have some top tips to share. I have the same piping tip, but mine always looks a total mess, I need help!

March 20, 2011 - 4:20 pm

srlacy - Hi Victoria-

I used a #2D Wilton tip. The instructions are in the post of how I did it. I’m really not the best piper-the technique is very straightforward. :)

March 20, 2011 - 6:30 pm

maggie - So yummy looking. I love butter cream. Vanila is a fav of mine.

March 20, 2011 - 10:46 pm

Jenn (Cookies Cupcakes Cardio) - Beautiful! The rose buttercream technique is one of my favourites.

March 21, 2011 - 1:13 am

sally - Beautiful! Love the rose shaped frosting!

March 21, 2011 - 11:09 am

Katy - So lovely and absolutely delicious!! You can see the tiny specks of real vanilla bean. What a treat!

March 21, 2011 - 12:19 pm

karolina - These are so beautiful that it would be a pity to eat them. I could just look at them forever ;)

Great blog, btw!

Greetings from Poland!

March 21, 2011 - 1:18 pm

Melissa - Those cupcakes look delicious and I’m amazed at the icing job…how lovely!!

March 21, 2011 - 3:20 pm

Kelli - Thanks so much, Shan! These were DELICIOUS and absolutely beautious! What a treat! Thank you for making my shower even more special! xoxo

March 21, 2011 - 4:12 pm

natalie (the sweets life) - vanilla almond sounds AMAZING! and the frosting is beautiful!

March 21, 2011 - 8:35 pm

Happy When Not Hungry - These cupcakes look and sound amazing! I love the way you piped the frosting. What a great friend you are!!

March 22, 2011 - 5:38 am

Junia @ Mis Pensamientos - this looks beautiful!

March 22, 2011 - 6:44 am

Moom - these cupcakes look really yummy! I am planning a cupcake decorating party for my daughters party. And i am still looking for the perfect cupcake recipes. Might have just found it! Is there any possibility to convert the measuerements into metric? I live in Switzerland and have no idea how much one stick of butter weighs! Thanks so much!

March 22, 2011 - 6:50 am

srlacy - Hi Moom-

I’m sure that there is an easy conversion table out there that you could use.
I hope try turn out for you-they would be great for a child’s party!

March 22, 2011 - 9:40 am

alyce - These look yummy. Congrats on top 9!

March 22, 2011 - 11:07 am

Shannon - So funny, I’m also looking for good cupcake recipes for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. I love vanilla almond. The flavor is such a classic! I love the piping. I’m definitely trying that technique!

March 22, 2011 - 12:02 pm

Lin Ann - Sounds heavenly! The frosting is beautiful! I love the name of your blog and congrats on top 9!

March 22, 2011 - 1:11 pm

Emily @ eat.drink.run. - Gorgeous! Congrats on the top 9!

March 22, 2011 - 2:01 pm

Sonia - Oh, real vanilla! I just love it when you can see specks of vanilla in anything vanilla. I find they make everything that much prettier, and they sure worked their magic on your lovely cupcakes. Bet they taste awesome too! Congrats on making the top 9.

March 22, 2011 - 4:33 pm

Erin A - Looks and sounds amazing! I’m all cupcaked out at the moment but when I recover…..I’ll try this recipe. Made/posted Double Chcocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream buttercream last week, and today I posted “easy” PINK Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream AND a recipe for Strawberry Cream Cheese frosting. You can see why I cant eat another cupcake…LOL

Thanks for sharing and Congrats!

March 23, 2011 - 12:07 am

Ali Grace - I agree with everyone and say… These cupcakes are beautiful!!! I’m going to have to practice this technique. I absolutely love it!

March 23, 2011 - 11:18 am

Bites from other Blogs | Sponge Cake Recipe - [...] though Vanilla Almond Cupcakes did sound good enough on their own, The Curvy Carrot topped these little cakes off with beautiful [...]

March 23, 2011 - 11:32 am

Bites from other Blogs | mybaking.info - [...] though Vanilla Almond Cupcakes did sound good enough on their own, The Curvy Carrot topped these little cakes off with beautiful [...]

March 25, 2011 - 5:31 pm

Amy - Beautiful! Those cupcakes are gorgeous and your frosting looks phenomenal. Yum! I can’t wait to make some.

April 2, 2011 - 11:46 pm

blogbytina! - these sound heavenly!

April 21, 2011 - 5:03 am

The Curvy Carrot » Pesto Tuna Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes - [...] than 10 days (well, if the mystery-gendered little one decides to come on time).  I posted the cupcakes from her shower last month, but now I thought I would share something that I fell in love with at [...]

May 24, 2011 - 3:59 pm

Elyse - LOVELY! I want to try these. What would you suggest if I wanted to omit the vanilla beans and use just extract..how much vanilla extract would you use? (I know, the vanilla beans are amazing, but I want to make the cupcakes for kids and they won’t appreciate the expense :) )

May 24, 2011 - 6:13 pm

srlacy - Hi Elyse-

Well, this is a controversial subject. I have seen substitution equivalents ranging from 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract per vanilla bean.

Here’s what I would do. If you have pure vanilla extract (you know, that expensive stuff from specialty stores…which I rarely can afford either) try one teaspoon per vanilla bean and go by taste. If you have the regular store-bought vanilla extract, try measuring out a generous teaspoon, mix, and then taste the batter to see if you can truly taste the vanilla flavor.

When I made these cupcakes, I contemplated substituting the extract and found myself in a very similar dilemma. I did a lot of internet searches and hunted through various cookbooks without finding a definitive answer. Maybe someone out there will be able to help both of us out with this one!

Thanks for stopping by!

January 29, 2013 - 10:18 pm

TMoore - How beautifully fabulous these are and look!
Thank you for this recipe along with your amazing peanut butter cupcakes.
I modified this last recipe slightly and WOW, I could have gone crazy eating these
Babies. :)

Baked Berry French Toast

 

Bring on the breakfast carbs!

I haven’t posted too many sweet breakfast dishes-well, because I think I have told you before that I always go for the savory.  But, I’m dabbling into dangerous territory.  This is a world that I am hesitant to enter (just like the pasta world)….for fear that I may never come back to sanity.   But, these dishes always look so fantastic and welcoming….just daring me to cross over to the “sweet” side-this time, I dove head-first, carelessly and spontaneously, into the world of all things delicious: Baked French Toast.

Ok.  So I am exaggerating now.  Breakfast sweets are not that bad.  They are wonderful.  I met my girlfriends out for brunch a few weekends ago, and one of them got a nice spread of waffles.  Since then, I had visions of glazed pecans and sweet fruit on bread dancing in my mind.  This recipe satisfied all cravings and has since eradicated all neurotic visions of dancing bread.  :)

So let me tell you about this recipe.  Buttery sweet glazed pecans.  Ripe, juicy, warm blueberries and raspberries under a sprinkling of sifted powdered sugar.  Thick bread with a sweetened vanilla sauce. Absolutely no need for syrup.

Bring it.

Baked Berry French Toast

Servings: 6

Ingredients

One large baguette (I used a Vienna-style baguette from my local grocery store), and I only used about half, sliced

6 large eggs

3 cups whole milk

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup pecans

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

 

 

Instructions

1. Lightly butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Place the bread slices evenly in one layer on the bottom of the dish.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, nutmeg, vanilla, and 3/4 cups of the brown sugar.

4. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread, making sure to completely coat the surfaces.

5. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

7. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown and toasted, about 8 minutes.

8.  Remove the pecans from the oven, and add 1 teaspoon of butter and the salt to the pan.  Using a spatula, toss to coat the pecans.

9. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

10. Sprinkle the pecans and blueberries/raspberries evenly over the bread.

11. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1/4-cup of brown sugar and 1/2 stick of butter until the butter is melted.

12.  Drizzle the butter/brown sugar mixture over the bread.

13.  Bake the bread mixture for 20 minutes, until liquid is bubbling and the bread is lightly golden.

Source: Adapted from Gourmet, June 1999 via Epicurious.

March 18, 2011 - 11:50 am

Lauren at Keep It Sweet - I am all for the sweeter breakfasts so I love this!

March 18, 2011 - 12:55 pm

Josie - Oh YUM! I think I need this this weekend!

March 18, 2011 - 1:06 pm

sucre en poudre - looks delicious!
iza:)

March 18, 2011 - 7:29 pm

sally - Yum! Now I’m ready to bring on the breakfast carbs in my house too!

March 18, 2011 - 8:35 pm

Happy When Not Hungry - This looks amazing! Love the fresh fruit and the carbs of course :-)

March 18, 2011 - 10:26 pm

Annie - Yummy! This looks beautiful and so delicious. And Andrew would love it!

March 18, 2011 - 10:51 pm

Christina @ This Woman Cooks! - So pretty and delicious! I love sweet breakfasts!

March 19, 2011 - 12:21 am

Jenn (Cookies Cupcakes Cardio) - Yum! I can’t wait to make this. I adore french toast..especially baked! There’s something about the soaked bread :)

March 20, 2011 - 2:59 pm

kateiscooking - WOW – that looks incredible, Shanon!!!

March 20, 2011 - 7:34 pm

Muppy - I love the idea of baking French toast, I am definitely on the sweet side and this looks like a perfect breakfast :)

March 21, 2011 - 12:09 am

Julie - The berries add a punch of antioxidants! Perfect for Sunday Brunch!

March 22, 2011 - 11:36 am

Rachel - My family makes this for holiday brunches with the addition of dollops of cream cheese on top before baking! We’ve never used a baguette before though; I’m sure that would amplify the texture wonderfully

March 22, 2011 - 7:42 pm

Food Frenzy - Mmm…these look wonderful. I like berries and nuts over chocolate.

We invite you to share this post and some of your favorite food posts on Food Frenzy.
Please check out our community.

March 23, 2011 - 9:32 am

Katie - This looks so delicious! One question though…Your recipe says that it serves 6…how many slices are a serving? I am asking because I just lined my dish with 6 slices of bread but the egg and milk mixture looks like wayyyy too much for 6 slices.

March 23, 2011 - 12:19 pm

srlacy - Hi Katie- I ended up with six servings, but I used larger slices of bread-one slice for each person. If you use a small baguette, it would probably be about 2 slices per person. I ended up using all of my egg mixture (it looked like a lot to me, too), and it soaked up just fine. Use your judgement here-maybe our pans vary in depth and slightly in size.

April 17, 2011 - 10:54 am

Natasha - luv the idea ….gonna try it. I made baked FRENCH TOAST once with dried apricots and dried figs without the sauce try that too

Cheddar Soda Bread

Remember the Baked Potato Soup from the other day?  Well, this is the bread that must go with it.

Yes, it’s more cheese.  More white cheddar and more extra sharp cheddar.  But, I tell you what, this bread goes hand-in-hand with that soup.  It’s great for soaking up the last bits of the soup.  Or, as I discovered, it’s also fantastic after some light re-heating in the microwave and a pat of butter on top.  Since Saint Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, I thought I would jump on the blogging bandwagon and serve you up some of my own.

Best of all, this bread passed the “Elliott” test.  For those of you who read the blog, you may know that Elliott is my sweet 3-year-old nephew.

What you may not know is that he happens to be going through a very (very) picky eating phase-mostly consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and banana yogurt.  My sister and my brother-in-law recently took a trip to Florida, so I was able to help out with the boys for about 5 days.  Elliott helped me make this bread, and he loved watching me grate the cheese.  (warm fuzzy memories).  Anyways, he patiently watched it bake in the oven, telling me how good it smelled.  When it had cooled a bit after it was done baking, I put a little bit of butter on top and gave him a semi-large piece (hesitantly) to see if he would try it.  He did.  He ate the whole entire piece.  So, if this bread can pass the Elliott test, I am pretty sure it’s a good recipe to have on hand!

Cheddar Soda Bread

Servings: about 12

Ingredients

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon slices

1 cup white cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 large egg

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grease an 8″ round pan lightly, and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

4. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, add the butter to the dry ingredients and blend together until the mixture resembles large crumbs.

5. Add the grated cheeses to the mixture and toss to combine.

6. Using a large wooden spoon or spatula, add the buttermilk and egg to the dry ingredients, and stir until the batter is just combined.  **Make sure there aren’t any dry pockets.

7.  Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and, using wet fingertips, spread the dough evenly to completely cover the pan.

8. Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9.  Let the bread cool for about 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges to loosen the bread.

10.  Invert the bread onto a wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes before handling.

Source: Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour.

March 16, 2011 - 6:31 am

Lauren at Keep It Sweet - Wow, this cheddar filled bread looks amazing.

March 16, 2011 - 8:51 am

Blog is the New Black - Love the addition of cheddar!

March 16, 2011 - 6:46 pm

Happy When Not Hungry - This bread looks fantastic! Love the cheddar addition too. Your nephew is too cute!

March 16, 2011 - 10:32 pm

Tracey - This looks phenomenal! Wish I had time to make it for tomorrow’s corned beef dinner.

March 17, 2011 - 9:23 pm

Tam - Just made this gorgeous bread and cannot WAIT for the Hubs to get home for dinner. Thanks for the awesome recipe! P.S. Your nephew is totally adorable & reminds me of my picky-sometimes eater nephew, too. :)

March 17, 2011 - 9:46 pm

srlacy - Thanks, Tam! I hope you like it. :)

March 18, 2011 - 2:57 pm

Sara - Looks INCREDIBLE! May have to add this to our short list of “definites” that Elliott will eat. :) Thanks for lovin’ my boy and being such a wonderful auntie! ;)

March 31, 2011 - 10:59 am

donna - I made this bread last night and your nephew is right, the smell was amazing along with the taste. Although, it had a “cornbread-type” taste, it was delicious. Thanks for sharing. :)