Dating someone new means meeting all sorts of new people.
Listen… I know I’m getting old and this isn’t my first jump into meeting the groups of friends, the work buddies, the casual friends, the bosses, the grandma, or the adopted dog of the strapping young gent that I’m dating. Sadly, all this experience has made me no less awkward and devoid of grace. I have a tendency towards embarrassing sweat, stuttering and knuckle cracking that is less than charming… Or! I just talk about my kitten, or the family dog, or this giant white rabbit that attacked me in 4th grade and no one believed me but it TOTALLY happened… and then I just leave other people feeling weird… and it’s all just awkward.
Anyhow! I’ve devised two personal tactics to detract from such boneheaded behavior: wear a pretty dress and heels and always bring cupcakes (or cookies or brownies or granola… or pie). This way, I feel pretty and I turn into a tall girl… and people instantly love me when I had them a box of chocolate and sugar. It’s a little bit of a dirty trick and it works every time.
Sprinkles? A lifesaver. Who could resist?
These Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are a classic. They’re exactly like every cupcake I ate between the ages of five and nine.
Dense but moist cake with an undeniable vanilla flavor.
They’re sweet. They make me want a balloon animal made for me.
These un-frosted but baked cupcakes also freeze well.
And they taste great right out of the freezer… all hard and cold and gnarly. But that’s not their best use.
They really should be smothered in chocolate buttercream and eaten in mass.
This is absolutely my favorite Chocolate Buttercream recipe. It’s smooth and thoroughly chocolaty, without being stiff and overly sweet like chocolate buttercream can sometimes become. I didn’t invent Chocolate Buttercream. The inspiration comes from a Los Angeles bakery I worked in.
The secret ingredient is Ovaltine powder and heavy cream. If you can’t get your hands on Ovaltine, you might try using hot chocolate mix. Yea. Weird… but totally delicious! Count on it.
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
from Organic and Chic
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This may take 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. If the batter begins to looks a bit curdled, that’s alright.
with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the vanilla milk mixture in three batches, starting and ending with the flour. When the batter is almost combined, stop the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a spatula, making sure that any flour bits at the bottom of the bowl are well incorporated.
Divide into the lined cupcake pan and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely before frosting.
The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine
Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes. Yuuuuuuuuum!!