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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

A cupcake is a personal cake. It says “just for you.” It’s a cake-to-go with its own wrapper. And cupcakes can be as fancy or as simple as you like. Just a little cake batter poured into a few cupcake liners can make a special treat for dinner.–Michelle Gayer Nicholson

LC Metric To English Note

If you’ve already glanced at the ingredients list below, you may have noticed that the recipe calls for a seemingly odd amount of mascarpone cheese. The author explains that because mascarpone is imported from Italy, it’s sold in small tubs that are measured in grams, and converting grams to ounces creates a rather atypical just-over-one-pound amount. There you have it.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes twelve 3 3/4-inch cakes

Ingredients

  • For the cupcakes
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups plus 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites
  • For the white chocolate mascarpone frosting
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 17.6 ounces mascarpone (see Note)
  • 6 to 8 ounces white chocolate, peeled into curls, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  • Make the cupcakes
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line twelve 3 3/4-inch muffin cups with paper baking cups.
  • 2. With the tip of a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • 3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/2 of the water and so on, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
  • 4. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. The egg whites should look glossy. Do not overmix. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter in 2 or 3 additions, incorporating all the egg whites thoroughly.
  • 5. Spoon the batter into the baking cups, filling each cup 3/4 full. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the centers of the cupcakes spring back. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and let them cool completely.
  • Make the frosting
  • 6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until it feels hot but is nowhere near a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the warm cream over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate melts. Set the bowl in an ice bath until the mixture is chilled. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and a second piece over the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
  • 7. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the mascarpone and half of the white chocolate mixture and whip for 2 minutes, or until well combined. Add the remaining white chocolate mixture, increase the speed to high, and beat the mixture until the frosting holds stiff peaks.
  • 8. Frost each cake with generous spoonfuls of the mascarpone frosting or another favorite frosting. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape a block of white chocolate to create large curls. Place several on top of each cupcake.
  • 9. Place the cupcakes in an airtight container and refrigerate. Allow the cakes to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
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