Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

So, cupcake month continues!! This is one of the first homemade cupcake recipes that I ever tried. I am no stranger to buttercreams. I've been making them ever since I was old enough to operate an oven to make a cake (8?). My first buttercreams consisted of a bag of powdered sugar, a few tablespoons of very soft butter, and a few splashes of half and half until it came together to a consisteny I was happy with. In the beginning it seeemed like I was endlessly going back and forth between more powdered sugar and more half and half until I achieved just the right consistency. If I was feeling fancy I would add a splash of vanilla or some cocoa powder. That was it. I was always so amazed that I could make something so amaingly good with so little effort. I didn't even need a recipe! But that was a long time ago, and I have now moved on to better things, like this swiss meringue buttercream. In all honesty, I tend to prefer a simpler frosting, but this is good for a special occassion. It is super duper buttery. My boyfriend informed me that he thought he was eating a stick of butter when he tasted it. He basically was. You can decide. 

Vanilla Cupcakes

½ cup salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  Set pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, and baking powder.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a double boiler.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (just keep beating, it will come together). Stir in the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.  

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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