Creamy Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

vanilla bean cupcakesHere it is. The first of three recipes for the cupcakes my sister-in-law, Amanda and I made for my other sister-in-law's wedding last weekend. We made 225 cupcakes (or close to that anyway) and they were a huge success. The best part was that we had a blast making them. Amanda brought her espresso machine over to my mom's house, we both brought our mixers and lots of muffin baking trays and baked and baked and baked. I discovered a while back that the Pampered Chef Stoneware muffin tray is amazing. The cupcakes come out perfect nearly every time with those things! So I borrowed two (thanks Joy and Lisa!!!) and Amanda had one also so we had three of those plus a few other regular ones. The cupcakes all turned out amazing. These vanilla ones really are perfect. I don't like overly sugary cupcakes and I like light and fluffy frosting and I also like a vanilla bean cupcake to have a strong vanilla flavor. These delivered. (makes about 48 cupcakes) Ingredients FOR THE CUPCAKES 1 pound unsalted butter 3 cups vanilla sugar 6 large eggs 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups half and half 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (preferably homemade, see link) 2 vanilla beans, scraped FOR THE FROSTING 5 cups butter, softened 15 cups powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon table salt 4 tablespoons homemade vanilla extract (if you don't have homemade then use pure vanilla extract plus a little sprinkle of bourbon) Approximately 1 cup heavy cream Preparation Instructions For the cupcakes Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cupcake liners in each cup of your muffin tray; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix together cream and vanilla and vanilla seeds. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan. For the Frosting In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar a little at a time until thick and incorporated. Add the vanilla and whisk until combined (if you prefer you can simmer the homemade vanilla extract or bourbon for a minute to eliminate the alcohol). Slowly add the heavy cream a few tablespoons at a time, whisking until fulling combined between each addition. Continue adding the cream until the frosting is light and fluffy and the consistency you need. I like mine a little on the loose side for piping but you may not need all of the cream if you like it a little thicker, it will just depend on your preferences. Once the cupcakes are completely cool you are ready to pipe them! If you want to wait to ice them until the next day, store the cupcakes in a plastic ziploc to keep them moist. But you can certainly pipe them right away if you are ready to!    

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