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I am fairly scatter-brained when it comes to baking. Either I see a picture of a dish I want to re-create, or an idea pops into my head.


Regardless, I never have butter sitting out. Do you have this problem?

Being that I go through approximately 16 tons of butter weekly, sometimes the butter is even in the freezer.  


This poses quite a problem. I am not exactly an example of patience.

I don’t have much.


Or any.


Martha Stewart says to cut up the butter in 1/4 inch slices and let it sit for 10 minutes.

What happens when you are a 26 year old freak with insane hot flashes and your house is a frigid ice palace? Martha’s technique, sadly, has failed me.

It would work if I had more patience. But I don’t.



So, Mother Lovett taught me her trick. Put the butter in the microwave for 6 seconds. Not 4. Not 7.

Only 6. Run for 6 seconds. Run again. And again. And again. Just until the butter is soft.

Why not just run for 24 seconds? I don’t know. Don’t ask. Pray to Mother Lovett in Heaven and see if she’ll give you the answer.



It works like a charm.

Unless you have a demonic microwave that sounds like a jet engine is taking off every time it’s used.



Then this happens.



So I’ve learned that if I put it in MY microwave, it can only be for 3 seconds.

Monotonous? Yes.

Better than throwing a giant tantrum since I won’t have softened butter for 3 hours? Absolutely.



Ahhh, sugar.  




I love vanilla beans. I love working with them. 






I scraped this baby clean. I felt I had to, since I spent my entire life savings on this vanilla bean. Totally worth it.



Creamy cake batter.




My husband committed the ultimate sin.


He bought me lowfat buttermilk.



 Oh, the horror!


(really, I think he is trying to tell me something.)




The cupcakes looked gorgeous when they came out of the oven. Beautiful. Full, fluffy, and the perfect size.


I left them to cool, and went back to finish eating some calorie-laden dish chock full of bacon grease and cheese. But when I waddled over to check on the cooling cupcakes, what did I find?





I kind of just threw this recipe together, so wasn’t sure where I went wrong. Judging from the amount of cupcakes I had, I decided I definitely had added too much milk.




The End.




Not really.

It drove me crazy, so I made them again. I used regular milk (actually – I used organic skim) and less of it and this time the recipe came out perfect!


Lesson learned: do not test a recipe with $14.99 vanilla beans. Unless you enjoy throwing $14.99 in the garbage can.



Here is a beauty. See the specks of vanilla bean?



My husband would not even try one. He hates vanilla bean. That is what he says.


He loves regular vanilla. Please tell me – is there a difference in taste of regular vanilla and vanilla bean? How could you like one and not the other?


I think he is it’s mental.


Since the cupcakes worked, it was time for the frosting.



I made a basic buttercream and added more cash vanilla bean to the mix.






I love the specks! I still can’t get over them.


I have always been an early riser. I went through a period where I would wake up before school, get a small bowl of vanilla bean ice cream, and mix it up until it became like soft serve. Then I would eat it while watching Captain Planet.

And I wasn’t 6 or 7 years old.


I was, like, 14.



The picture does not do it justice, but the frosting has a pearlescent glow to it. Vanilla bean pearls.







Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

contents of 1/2 vanilla bean

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla and scraped vanilla beans. Make sure vanilla is mixed into batter.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients.

Pour into cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 mins at 350. Let cool, then frost.


Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter

2 lbs powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk +

1 tablespoon vanilla

contents of 1/2 vanilla bean


Mix butter and powdered sugar together, adding sugar gradually to the mix. Add milk gradually, vanilla and vanilla beans. Continue to add milk and sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.






Do you want a taste?


If you are coming to Good Taste Pittsburgh – you will get to try this cupcake! Come visit me there. :)



Stay tuned for a delicious giveaway.


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65 Responses to “Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting.”

  1. #
    Whitney @ Lettuce Love — November 4, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

    Looks amazing!


  2. #
    VeggieGirl — November 4, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

    Wish I COULD be there!


  3. #
    The Candid RD — November 4, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

    YUM!! Looks delicious. And I have to say, your husband is crazy if he likes vanilla but not vanilla bean. They taste the same…I mean mainly, except vanilla bean is better! You should make him try it, as he may THINK he hates it beut really he doens’t. I do that to Nick a lot.


    • Jessica — November 4th, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

      hahaha oh – I do this very often.


  4. #
    Tara — November 4, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

    Those look delicious! Great job icing them – the look professional!


  5. #
    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — November 4, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

    those look awesome! ok so i am not getting your feeds….off to update my RSS feed, thx for the link and also just read your comment on Abby’s site about my nanna muffins. thx girl :)


  6. #
    kay (eating machine) — November 4, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

    i put the butter on defrost for short bursts to soften it.
    cause who plans ahead to make cookies? honestly.


  7. #
    AshleyLauren — November 4, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

    That cupcake is definitely the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all day. I am totally tempted to buy a plane ticket for this whole taste of pittsburgh thing! I’d try to make them myself, but I’m pretty sure all the buttercream would end up in my tummy before it’d make it on a cupcake.


  8. #
    Light Delight with TouTou — November 4, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

    haha I don’t have the patience neither for the butter to soften. and I always use micro-wave to accelerate this process. thanks for justify me doing so !
    I had once in a botanic garden and smell those vanilla beans. They have such a big sweet smell that it spread all over the garden and makes me end up with a big vanilla ice cream. Maybe you can take your husband to smell some real vanilla bean to change his mind. :-)

    btw, that’s really nice frosting – so cute !


  9. #
    Estela @ Weekly Bite — November 4, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

    Oh My Goodness!! Vanilla bean is my favorite!!
    I can’t wait to try those cupcakes!


  10. #
    Lesley Living Life — November 4, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

    I would LOVE to try them!

    Ha, you shouldn’t have told your husband you used vanilla beans and then maybe he would have tried them? ; )


  11. #
    Katy — November 4, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

    What? Who hates vanilla bean? :)

    I am so glad you went back and re-did them. I would have done the same and if you had given up, well, I would have felt like a freak.


  12. #
    JenniferA — November 4, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

    Oh, the frosting is so pretty!! I saw vanilla beans at Costco this weekend and the price was actually pretty good – I want to say it was like 6 of them for 12.99, I remember thinking they were around $2 each.

    I soften butter in the microwave too, but I use the defrost button for 30 seconds to a minute.

    I also freeze butter! But, it’s a good thing when it comes to pie dough or anything that requires you to “cut in” the butter. Alton Brown has a great tip for that, by the way – grate the frozen butter on a box grater. Works like a charm.


  13. #
    MollyCookie — November 4, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

    Yes, your husband is slightly mental, especially if he doesn’t like vanilla! Your icing looks so cute swirled like that. I love it!


  14. #
    The Voracious Vegan — November 4, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

    How can he not like vanilla bean!!?!? I like plain old vanilla extract, but vanilla bean is the ultimate. Maybe he really is crazy…


  15. #
    Lara (Thinspired) — November 5, 2009 @ 3:18 am

    These look lovely–I love the way you frosted them!

    Thanks for the butter trick. I usually just stick it in the micro and forget about it, which always turns out badly! Six seconds. Got it.


  16. #
    Yum Yucky — November 5, 2009 @ 3:25 am

    WHAT! I’ve never even heard of Vanilla Bean cupcakes. My Happy-O-Meter just shot up 10 points. Ahhh….


  17. #
    Amy J in SC — November 5, 2009 @ 5:40 am

    Those are beautiful. Have fun at the food festival thingy.


  18. #
    Cindy Coniglio — November 5, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    Jess, You amaze me more and more each day. WOW Im so proud of you. The cupcakes look out of this world. Keep up the good work. I cant wait to see you Saturday for your debut and your BIRTHDAY!!!!! xoxo


    • Jessica — November 5th, 2009 @ 6:32 am

      You’re the best! Love u guys. :)


  19. #
    Alyssa — November 5, 2009 @ 8:39 am

    There’s just something about vanilla and butter together that’s perfect. Seriously, the early stage of butter and sugar, I eat with a spoon.

    As for the microwave, ours has a button that says ‘soften’. Makes butter room temp. Ask me how often I use that button!


  20. #
    Alyssa — November 5, 2009 @ 8:41 am

    Oh, and next time don’t scrap those vanilla beans. You can use them, even scraped, to flavor sugar or simple syrup, etc. :)


  21. #
    doug — November 5, 2009 @ 9:08 am

    you don’t have to store butter in the fridge do you? I thought butter existed well before refrigerators, and it sat out and did just fine…


    • Jessica — November 5th, 2009 @ 9:10 am

      I don’t know about that, but if I let it all sit out it would take oven my house. :)


  22. #
    Gelareh (Orange Truffle) — November 5, 2009 @ 9:35 am

    The cupcakes look really good. I LOVE vanilla bean, I plan on making a vegan chocolate cake this weekend, I think the icing would go really well with it :)


  23. #
    Seth — November 5, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    You had me at vanilla bean…

    In the never ending controversy between vanilla and chocolate, I am always on the vanilla side, and if that side is vanilla bean, I am in heaven.


  24. #
    Mr. P — November 5, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    They look perfect. Cute frosting swirl. I love vanilla, but my friend says that when I use real beans, she comes out in hives. So they stay on my shelf, since she eats most of what I bake.
    Nice to smell now and again though.


  25. #
    Nicole (dishin') — November 5, 2009 @ 11:30 am

    Yum! They look awesome. I would have totally baked them again too. good call. Love that frosting!


  26. #
    Joy — November 5, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

    Jessica, your husband is one lucky man let me tell you what. hahaha great post I will try these soon :)!!!


  27. #
    Amanda — November 5, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

    I love the idea of fresh vanilla bean… but have never dared to try anything with it!! You may have inspired me…



  28. #
    Gliding Calm — November 5, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

    oh wow! totally craving a cupcake right now!

    beautiful recipe!!



  29. #
    Julie @savvyeats — November 16, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

    How much sugar does the cupcake call for?!


  30. #
    Scorpio Woman — November 26, 2009 @ 7:03 am

    Your cupcakes look so yummy. I love how you put the frosting on top. It looks so creamy. yum! Thanks for the recipe :)


  31. #
    Tene — December 30, 2009 @ 6:52 am

    I love how the frosting looks, the cupcake must taste great, it’s vanilla after all.


  32. #
    Steve Mirsky — February 22, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

    You definitely get down and dirty with the vanilla…no extract for you!


  33. #
    Becky Sue — June 8, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    These look amazing! Love this post very funny! :) I LOVE cupcakes!!


  34. #
    Joanne — August 29, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    Could you tell me what tip you used for the frosting, it looks very creamy and professional.


  35. #
    Maddie — December 28, 2010 @ 4:16 am

    Where can you buy vanilla beans, because they aren’t something you can just find at a supermarket?


    • Jessica — December 28th, 2010 @ 11:54 am

      I can find them at my supermarket – in the spices. If you can’t find them there, perhaps a specialty food/baking store may have them? Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table both have them.


  36. #
    kelly — January 20, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    the recipe lists milk… are you using the buttermilk in both the cake and frosting?


  37. #
    Jill — February 25, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    whole milk, butter milk? which did u use? im searching for the vanilla cupcake, i have yet to mke one thats moist, i hope this is the one! :)


    • Jessica — February 25th, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

      I just actually used skim! Anything is fine as long as it isn’t buttermilk.


  38. #
    brittany — April 13, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    Any idea if this icing freezes well? Would like to save some for later :)


  39. #
    Teresa Moon — October 6, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

    Have you tried Vanilla bean paste less work and same flecks and taste as the bean


  40. #
    Clare Prowse — January 20, 2012 @ 6:53 am

    Hi Jess!
    What is the yield for this recipe? 12? 24? 16?


  41. #
    Kristin — April 12, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

    Hi Jess – I must suggest that you buy your vanilla beans online – I bought a 1/2 pound for like $20 to make homemade vanilla extract (and I didn’t use them all) plus when you buy them they shipped me an extra pack of Madagascar beans for free…I bought them through Amazon…


  42. #
    vernice — November 17, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. Once, i went to my local Whole Foods and bought one for $6. Then my good friend referred me to . I received about 100 or $20. Now, I have to find some way to use allllll the precious and delicious vanilla beans. I make my own vanilla creamer, vanilla extract, and even a couple of fancy cocktails that call for a few vanilla bean specks.

    I hope I’m not violating the terms of your blog by listing the url for the beans. Feel free to remove my post, but be sure to buy this bundle of beans. Now, I’m off to make your Strawberry- lime stuffed cupcakes.
    Thank you again for your sharing your talents. I sincerely appreciate it.


  43. #
    Claire — February 26, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    Hey Jessica, how many cupcakes does this recipe yield, a dozen? Thanks!


  44. #
    Sharon — February 26, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

    Vanilla bean is awesome. I make my recipe with a whole vanilla bean, and a easpoon of vanilla extract. It’s vanilla heaven! I’m going to try it in the batter next, thanks for the suggestion!


  45. #
    Trevor — May 13, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail.
    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.



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