Homemade vanilla extract 3 ways with Beanilla vanilla beans

3 1/2 years ago I discovered the online vanilla bean company Beanilla and have been in love with their beans ever since!  When I moved to Germany, getting my hands on local affordable, high-quality beans was impossible so I was excited to have found Beanilla.

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

Before I go on… if you’re here for the GIVEAWAY scroll to the bottom for all the details! 

I reached out to Beanilla a couple months ago and expressed to them how much I loved their beans and would love to partner with them for a post on JavaCucpake!  I have been using their beans in my homemade vanilla extracts as well as in all my vanilla recipes.  Every time I split open a Madagascar vanilla bean the aroma fills my kitchen and I go to my happy place!

Since I make all my extract in bulk, Beanilla and I decided that I’d create for you a “How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract in Bulk” tutorial for you.   This tutorial will feature three distinct Beanilla beans paired with three different liquors.

BeanillaVanillaExtract-72

I really hope you are able to get a lot of helpful information from this tutorial! Vanilla extract is super simple to make and it really is so amazing in place of store bought extract. Once you start making it yourself, you’ll never go back to imitation!

Enjoy!

The Video Tutorial

I created two video tutorials to help you make homemade vanilla extract.  This first video below is longer with more details about the beans and alcohol I used. The video at the bottom of this post has been edited to only include the specifics of making the extract.

The Flavors

  • Madagascar vanilla beans and vanilla vodka extract – Creamy, strong, full, rich vanilla beans paired with a smooth vanilla vodka make for the ultimately perfect vanilla extract for baking

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

  • Indonesian vanilla beans and honey bourbon whiskey extract – Floral, sweet, delicate beans with tones of fruit paired with a honey infused sweet bourbon whiskey create a simply sweet vanilla extract for desserts with deep flavors

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

  • Ugandan vanilla beans and spiced rum extract – Strong, creamy, rich tones of chocolate and caramel beans paired with a caramel spiced rum produce a bold vanilla extract strong enough to hold up to any chocolate recipe.

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

The Supplies

The Technique

  1. Start with one type of beans and the alcohol paired with it.   Prepare those vanilla beans by using the straight edge of the paring knife and pressing the vanilla pod flat evenly distributing the beans inside the pod.  Split the pod in half the long way.  Repeat until all the beans are split.Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com
  2. Place the beans into the clean, dry glass jar and pour the alcohol until it reaches the neck of the bottle.  Place the cork on top and shake gently.
  3. Add a label to the jar noting the date you made the extract.
  4. Store the jar in a cool place away from direct sunlight for a minimum of one month up to four months.  
  5. Repeat this process with the two other types of beans and their corresponding alcohols.

The Labels

  1. Download these bottle labels made exclusively for JavaCupcake readers by Rachel of Glitter & Bow.
  2. Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com
  3. Print the labels on sticker labels and adhere them to each bottle.
  4. Write in the type of extract you made along with the date made and when it will be ready to use.
  5. Alternately, you can print the labels on regular paper and use double sided tape to adhere them to the bottles.

The Giveaway

Thanks to Beanilla, I’ve also got a custom designed Vanilla Extract Kit exclusively for one of my JavaCupcake readers!

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

One person will win:

You must be 18 years old to enter and have a USA or Germany mailing address.  One person will be chosen by random on Monday, December 1, 2014.  Total value of this package: $100

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to make Vanilla Extract – Condensed Version

Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake

This British-inspired Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake is my spin on the a classic.  It includes layers of cake filled with rich vanilla pudding, strawberries and topped with fresh whipped cream and is the perfect Sunday afternoon treat or Spring-time dessert!

Victoria Sponge sandwich cake with vanilla pudding & fresh strawberry filling topped with fresh whipped cream, lemon zest and more strawberry! | JavaCupcake.com

Easter is a holiday that I just can’t seem to decide how I want to celebrate.  I grew up Catholic, so that part of me knows the “real” meaning of the holiday.  Jesus gave his life for us and on Easter He rises to Heaven.  It’s some pretty amazing, deep stuff to think about… and should be celebrated!

But, since I’m not a practicing Catholic anymore, I find myself questioning the reasons to celebrate Easter.  I am not the type of parent that can rationalize spending tons of money on an Easter basket for my kids full candy and toys they’ll probably never play with.  And I just don’t think that visiting the Easter bunny at the mall for some cheesy staged photo is worth my time.  I just can’t wrap my brain around all the hype surrounding Easter when the focus isn’t on the true meaning.

So, what’s left?

Family.

Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake with vanilla pudding & fresh strawberry filling topped with fresh whipped cream, lemon zest and more strawberry! | JavaCupcake.com

If I’m not going to celebrate Easter for it’s true meaning and I’m not filling my kids with Easter candy… I will use this day to spend quality time with those l love, to cook and bake for them and to enjoy their joy when we share a meal together.

This year, my family includes my husband who is recently home from Afghanistan and my best friend Chasity and her family.  Chasity is moving soon so this may be our last holiday together.

Victoria Sponge sandwich cake with vanilla pudding & fresh strawberry filling topped with fresh whipped cream, lemon zest and more strawberry! | JavaCupcake.com

 

I knew that I needed to make something amazingly delicious for dessert this year.  Chasity requested strawberries & cream to be included in the dessert so I started researching recipes to use.  I have always wanted to try Mary Berry’s recipe for Victoria Sponge, so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity!

This Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake has two layers of Mary Berry’s cake recipe.  Since this is a British recipe for cake, I knew it wouldn’t be like the American cakes I was used to eating.  Mary’s cake is less sweet but perfect when paired with the pudding and strawberries of the filling.

A traditional sponge cake is just filled with jam and topped with powdered sugar.  But, I wanted to liven things up a bit, so I filled my cake with jam, berries and pudding then topped it all with whipped cream and more berries.  SUBLIME!

Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake with vanilla pudding & fresh strawberry filling topped with fresh whipped cream, lemon zest and more strawberry! | JavaCupcake.com

Matty loved it.  He was first at the table to get his slice!

When I served the cake, my family requested more of the filling to pile on top of their slice!  So make sure you reserve the extra fillings after you assemble the cake to serve with the finished cake to your guests!

I will definitely make this cake again… I think next time I may even try a blueberry filling.  Yum!

Happy Baking!

Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake
 
Cook time
 
Serves: 1 8in 2-layer cake
Ingredients
Victoria Sponge Cake
  • 225g (about 1 cup) unsalted butter, soft
  • 225g ( about 1 cup) granulated or caster sugar
  • 225g (about 2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 5 medium eggs or 4 large eggs or 8oz eggs
Vanilla Pudding Filling
  • 1 package Jell-O Cook & Serve Vanilla Pudding (NOT instant)
  • 3 cups heavy cream or half & half or whole milk (NOT skim, low-fat, 1% or 2% milk)
Strawberry Filling
  • 3 cups strawberries, cleaned and quartered before measuring
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of ½ large lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 5-6 strawberries, stems removed & sliced (reserve for assembly)
Whipped Cream Topping
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp granulated or caster sugar
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 5-6 whole strawberries with stems/leaves (for garnish)
  • Lemon zest (for garnish)
  • Powdered sugar( for garnish)
Instructions
Victoria Sponge Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 355F degrees.
  2. Grease & flour 8in cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  3. Measure/weigh your ingredients and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy - about 3-5 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt 3-4 times until completely incorporated.
  6. Add the flour to the butter/sugar and mix until just combined.
  7. Mix in the almond extract.
  8. One at a time, add the eggs and mix well after each addition.
  9. After all the eggs have been added, mix about 2 minutes on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything has been incorporated.
  10. Divide the batter evenly and spread into prepared pans.
  11. Bake about 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. NOTE: DO NOT open the oven to check on these cakes. Let them bake the entire 25 minutes before opening the oven to check done-ness. The cakes will collapse if a sudden rush of cool air hits them before they are fully baked.
  12. Cool in pans for 1 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before assembling.
Vanilla Pudding Filling
  1. In a medium pot, combine the contents of the vanilla pudding package and the heavy cream.
  2. Prepare as directed on the package.
  3. Pour into a glass bowl and place in the refrigerator until set - about 2 hours.
Strawberry Filling
  1. In a large pan over medium, mix together the prepared strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, spices and vanilla.
  2. Using a potato masher, mash the berries until only small pieces remain but most are broken down.
  3. Stir & cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove about ¼ cup of the juice from the pan and place in a small bowl. Add the corn starch to the liquid and mix until smooth. Pour this mixture back into the berries and mix until incorporated.
  5. Cook strawberries another 1-3 minutes or until it has thickened.
  6. Remove from the pan into a glass bowl and place in refrigerator until cool - about 2 hours.
Whipped Cream Topping
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in the heavy cream.
  2. Turn mixer on medium-high and beat the cream for about 30 seconds.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, drizzle in the sugar. Mix in the extract.
  4. Continue to beat on medium-high until soft peaks form and the cream holds it shape.
Assembly
  1. Once the cake layers are cool, the cake can be assembled. Place one layer of cake on a cake stand.
  2. Spread a layer of strawberry filling across the top of the cake, leaving ½in of cake uncovered along the edge of the cake. You'll use about ⅓ cup of strawberry filling. Arrange sliced strawberries on top of the filling and gently press down.
  3. Fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M star tip with the vanilla pudding. Pipe a layer of pudding over the strawberries. Use an offet spatula to gently spread the layer smooth.
  4. Place the second cake layer, top side down, onto the filling and GENTLY press.
  5. Dust the entire cake and cake stand with powdered sugar.
  6. Place a generous amount of whipped cream on the top of the cake in the center.
  7. Zest a lemon over the top of the whipped cream and cake.
  8. Arrange 5-6 whole strawberries on edges of the whipped cream to garnish.
  9. Keep cake chilled until ready to serve.
  10. Serve cake slices with extra vanilla pudding, strawberry filling and whipped cream topping.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Mary Berry

 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Curd Filled Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate + Raspberry = Heaven  100% Dark Chocolate from a little chocolate shop in Southern Germany + Fresh picked German raspberries turned into raspberry curd = Heaven x1000000!

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These cupcakes are probably one of the most decadent, sophisticated cupcakes I’ve ever made.  The intense dark chocolate paired with the tart raspberry curd plus the sweet buttercream are a combination unlike anything I’ve ever had before.

I made the raspberry curd a few days before I made the cupcakes, so it made for really easy assembly.

And the vanilla buttercream is my most favorite recipe for vanilla buttercream EVER! I’ve made it before and it’s become my “go-to” recipe for vanilla.

The chunk of chocolate on top… yeah, that’s a German chocolate.  Raspberry Chocolate.  PERFECT for this cupcake.

5 from 1 reviews
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Curd Filled Cupcakes
 
Decadent, rich, dense chocolate cake filled with fresh, tart raspberry curd topped with sweet vanilla buttercrea.
Serves: 2 dozen cupcakes
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup 100% Edel-Kakao extra brut chocolate cocoa powder (or the darkest cocoa powder you can find)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
Vanilla Buttercream
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼-1/2 cup heavy cream infused/steeped with vanilla beans
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp salt
Raspberry Curd
  • Recipe can be found HERE
Dark Chocolate
  • Cut dark chocolate into chunks to top each cupcake.
Instructions
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add the heavy cream, brewed coffee and vanilla extract. Heat until just barely simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you prep the other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs.
  5. Slowly pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the egg/sour cream mixture and whisk until smooth. NOTE: DO THIS SLOW! You don’t want to cook the eggs, so start pouring a very small amount of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture… DO NOT DUMP IT IN ALL AT ONCE.
  6. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. In three parts, add the chocolate mixture to the flour. Whisk until just combined and smooth after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated. Finally, whisk batter about 20 strokes.
  7. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with batter. Bake 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Buttercream
  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. While that is creaming, steep your heavy cream with 1 vanilla bean. To steep: Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds and add to the cream. Whisk. Bring the bean/cream to a simmer, remove from heat and cool slightly. Remove the pod.
  3. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, to the butter/cream cheese. Mix on high until smooth.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
  5. Add ¼-1/2 cup vanilla cream until you get the desired consistency you desire. Beat on high for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  6. Mix in the pinch of salt.
Assembly
  1. Core the center of each cupcake using an apple corer.
  2. Spoon in raspberry curd into each opening.
  3. Pipe frosting using a Wilton 1M tip onto each cupcake.
  4. Top each cupcake with a chunk of dark chocolate.


 

Vanilla Cupcakes

I’ve thought a lot about what makes the perfect vanilla cupcake… will it be moist? dense? crumbly? cakey? white? cream? vanilla beans? extract? I’ve tried a lot of recipes, but none really taste like vanilla… just plain cake.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes  | JavaCupcake.com

I posed this question to you on Facebook & Twitter, “What ingredients make up the perfect vanilla cupcake?”… and this is what you said:

  • vanilla bean powder
  • vanilla beans
  • coconut flour paired with a good vanilla bean extract
  • vinegar
  • homemade vanilla extract
  • whipped egg whites folded into the batter
  • box of vanilla pudding mix

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes  | JavaCupcake.com

Yesterday, I ventured into the kitchen to make a vanilla cupcake that truly tasted like vanilla.  I began with Sweetapolita’s recipe for vanilla cake and added my own spin on it to really bring out the vanilla flavor.  I did things like steep the milk in vanilla beans, use my homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar and of course use the seeds of 2 fresh Madagascar vanilla beans.

And, after tasting them… I’m pretty darn certain that these are one of the most delicious vanilla cupcakes I’ve ever tasted!  I’m definitely adding this recipe to the rotation!

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes  | JavaCupcake.com

PS… Love these liners?  I got them from Sutton Gourmet Paper!!

 

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 18-20 cupcakes
Ingredients
Vanilla Cupcakes
  • ¾ cup milk steeped with 2 vanilla beans/pods and strained/cooled
  • ¼ sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla bean extract
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted 3 times
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1⅛ cup Madagascar vanilla bean sugar
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft & at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable shortening
Vanilla Buttercream
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, SIFTED
  • 1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla bean extract
  • ¼ cup Madagascar vanilla bean infused milk/cream, room temperature (use same method as used for the cupcakes)
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
Vanilla Cupcakes
  1. Split 2 Madagascar vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds. Combine the pods and seeds in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of milk and bring to a simmer over med-high heat while whisking constantly. Remove from heat as soon as it begins to bubble and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup for the buttercream.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
  3. In a small bowl , whisk together the egg whites, egg, vanilla extract, ¼ cup of the vanilla milk and sour cream. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, sift the cake flour three times. Add the baking powder, salt and sugar and sift two additional times.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour mixture with the butter and shortening on medium speed for about 30 seconds or until it looks finely clumped.
  6. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining ½ cup vanilla milk and mix until just combined. It will be thick. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.
  7. Add the egg mixture in three parts, mixing for 20 seconds on medium speed and scraping the sides of the bowl between each addition. NOTE: DO NOT OVER MIX the batter. You want it to be smooth with all the ingredients incorporated.
  8. Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake for 17-19 minutes, rotating pan after 12 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean when they are done.
  9. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
  2. One cup at a time, add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on high until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp of the milk and beat on high for 3-4 minutes or until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Add more milk if necessary to reach your desired consistency. NOTE: Make sure to add as many as the vanilla bean seeds as you can to the frosting!

 

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Rich buttermilk and vanilla bean cake in purple, yellow and green make these Mardi Gras cupcakes topped with Reese’s mini cupcakes the perfect party treat! Mardi Gras Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com In February 2012, AFN Bavaria here in Germany is hosted me for a 2 hour segment to talk cupcakes and baking!  And, well… since it’s Mardi Gras season, I thought it’d be a perfect reason to bring the DJ’s some party cupcakes!

Because I needed to color the batter, I needed a basic white cake batter to start with.  So, I whipped up a simple vanilla buttermilk cupcake.  But… you know me, nothing I do is ever basic.  These cupcakes have my favorite Madagascar vanilla beans, buttermilk and some added sour cream for flavor.  There is nothing basic about the flavor of these bad boys! Mardi Gras Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com I topped the cupcakes with  a cinnamon cream cheese frosting then embellished them with Mardi Gras colored sprinkles and mini cupcakes made with Reese’s peanut butter cups.   This is a simple, fun way to dress up your cupcakes for a party!

You don’t just have to make these cupcakes for Mardi Gras either… they could be made in green and red for Christmas.  They could be made in pink and white for Valentine’s Day or even Green for St. Patrick’s day.  The possibilities are quiet endless! So, if you’re looking for a fun, simple, yet delicious cupcake to serve at your Mardi Gras party… make these Mardi Gras Cupcakes!

They’ll be sure to impress your party guests!

Mardi Gras Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com

Happy Baking!

5 from 1 reviews
Mardi Gras Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These cupcakes are ready to PARTY for Mardi Gras!
Serves: 2 dozen cupcakes
Ingredients
Mardi Gras Cupcakes
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • the seeds of 2 Madagascar vanilla beans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups Buttermilk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Green, Purple and Yellow food coloring gel (I used Wilton brand)
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • green, purple and yellow sprinkles
  • Rolo candies
  • Mini Reese's peanut butter cups
  • purple gel food coloring
Instructions
Mardi Gras Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cupcake pans with white liners.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes.
  3. While that is creaming, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the buttermilk, vanilla beans, vanilla extract and sour cream. Whisk until combined. It will look lumpy, which is okay.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the butter/sugar and mix on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure everything is incorporated. NOTE: It will look curdled. DO NOT FRET! It will smooth out once you add the flour.
  6. Add all the flour at once and mix on low to medium speed until smooth. Don't over mix!!
  7. Separate batter evenly into three bowls.
  8. Add food coloring and mix until uniform in color.
  9. Using a tablespoon, scoop one color into the liner against one edge. Quickly, scoop the second color next to/overlapping the first color. Finally, add the third color. NOTE: By the time you get to scooping the third color, you should still be able to see a ⅓ of the bottom of the liner.
  10. Add another smaller scoop of each color until the liners are ½-2/3 full. NOTE: Do not fill these more than ⅔ full. They puff up nicely and you don't want overflow!
  11. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate pan after 12 minutes.
  12. Cool in pans for 7-8 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and decorating.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. ¼lb at a time, add the powdered sugar. After the first addition, add the vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat until smooth.
  3. After the next additions of powdered sugar, add whipping cream and beat on high until smooth. After the last addition of sugar, add enough cream until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Add the pinch of salt and beat on high for 5 minutes.
Assembly
  1. Reserve ½ cup of frosting and tint with purple food coloring gel. Put it in a piping bag with a small star tip. Set aside.
  2. Using the white frosting and a large star tip, pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake. Embellish with sprinkles and jimmies.
  3. Put a swirl of the purple frosting on top of the Reese's pb cups and embellish with sprinkles and jimmies. (You want it to look like a mini cupcake.)
  4. Place a Reese's cup on top of each cupcake, off center.
    

Frosted Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day

One of the things I baked this weekend as a part of the Valentine’s Day Love Boxes I made were my favorite sugar cookies frosted and decorated.  I make these cookies several times a year and I devour at least a dozen of them myself every time.

I’ve posted the recipe before (Spring Sugar Cookies) for the cookies, but have since then added my own homemade buttercream to the mix instead of a jar of pre-made frosting.

So, here they are together… my favorite sugar cookie recipe with my favorite vanilla buttercream recipe.

These cookies are full of flavor, soft, and puff up perfectly when baking. The frosting, it’s smooth, creamy and so delicious!!

Roll & Cut Sugar Cookies
 
Prep time
 
Serves: 5-6 dozen cookies (depending on cookie cutter size)
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • ¾ unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • heart shaped cookie cutters
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and shortening.
  2. Add the sugar, eggs, and almond extract and mix on high until light and fluffy – about 4-5 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the flour to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Make sure you are scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  5. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough ¼ inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutter and place on baking sheet.
  8. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until cookies are a delicate golden color. NOTE: Mine only take 6 minutes! Do not let the edges get too brown, you want the bottoms to just barely start to turn a golden color.
  9. Remove immediately from pan to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Perfect Vanilla Buttercream
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: Enough to frost 5-6 dozen cookies with left-overs
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • the seeds of one Madagascar vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2lbs powdered sugar
  • ¼-1/2 cup Madagascar vanilla bean infused heavy whipping cream (Recipe here)
  • pink food gel – optional
  • sprinkles – optional
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and mix until combined.
  3. 1lb at a time, add the powdered sugar. Begin on low speed and increase speed until mixture becomes smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. After each addition of sugar, add 3-4 tbsp of cream. Beat on high to combine.
  5. Add as much cream as you want until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency. NOTE: I like to make this buttercream a little thinner than what I’d make if I was using it for cupcakes, so I add more cream.
  6. Once you have your desired consistency, beat on high for 4-5 minutes.
  7. If you want to tint the frosting, add as much gel as you want until you get the color you need. Scrape sides/bottom of bowl to make sure it’s all uniform in color.
  8. Frost cookies and decorate with sprinkles!
  9. EAT!


Sweetheart Sugar Cookie Bars

I’m stocked with bags and bags and bags of chocolate.  Kisses, chips, m&m’s, bars, chunks, filled and fruity, seasonal… you name it, I have it right now.

My favorite though… the bag of pink, white and red M&M’s.  Simple yet so darn cute when used just right!

Today, there is 3 inches of new snow on the ground and it’s a perfect day to stay inside and whip up something sweet with these Valentine themed M&M’s for my daughter and her friends.  They’re spending the afternoon sledding and playing in the snow… so they’re definitely going to need a little energy from these cookie bars!

Normally, when I make sugar cookies, I use a dough that needs to be chilled and rolled… but I thought I’d try something a little different this time.  A sugar cookie that is cut, like a bar or with a cookie cutter, already frosted and decorated… and I use the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Recipe.  This recipe is just as easy, if not simpler and it gets pressed into a jelly roll pan!

The frosting, it’s my new favorite.  A bit of cream cheese and a lot of Madagascar vanilla!  YUM!

Sweetheart Sugar Cookie Bars
Makes 18+ bars

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
the seeds of 1 Madagascar vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 drop of Americaolor “Red Red” food gel

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.  Line 13x18x1 in jelly roll pan (really big, deep cookie sheet!) with parchment paper and spray paper and sides of pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer using a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, almond and vanilla.  You want to beat this mixture on high for 4-5 minutes to get it very light and fluffy!
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour in three parts.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix until incorporated thoroughly.
  5. Press the dough into the pan.  NOTE: I used a piece of wax paper to help spread out the dough into the edges and corners.
  6. Bake in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden.
  7. Cool completely on a wire rack, in the pan, before frosting.

Madagascar Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

2oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
3-5 tbsp Madagascar Vanilla Cream

  1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the cream until you get your desired consistency.  I like a thinner, smoother frosting for cookies so I add more cream than less.
  4. Beat on high for 5-6 minutes.

To Assemble Cookies: 

Cutting board
Offset spatula
Large knife
Cookie bar
Frosting
M&M candies
Heart shaped cookie cutter

  1. Use a knife to loosen cookie from the pan.  Gently slide the cookie out of the pan and onto the counter or a large cutting board.
  2. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting evenly over the cookie.
  3. Sprinkle whole M&M’s evenly over the cookie bar.  Chop more M&M’s into small pieces, even crushed a bit, and sprinkle evenly over the cookie bar.
  4. Cut into squares and serve with a big glass of milk!
  5. You could also cut a few using a heart shaped cookie cutter too if you wanted to be really creative!

Tagalong Cupcakes

I had surgery on Thursday… and I was SUPER nervous.  It’s nothing too serious, just having 3 teeth pulled that should have been fixed a long time ago.  But now, I’m 33 weeks pregnant and in TONS of pain and just can’t wait any longer to have them taken care of.

So… to keep my mind occupied the day before (and hopefully off the throbbing in my mouth), I decided to bake cupcakes!  Last week, I made Thin Mint Cupcakes with Girl Scout cookies so today I’m trying out a recipe for Tagalong Cupcakes made with my favorite peanut butter and chocolate GS cookie!

I asked on my Facebook page how exactly I should make this Tagalong cupcake and I really enjoyed the suggestion of one reader to make a thick crumb cake.  I’ve never actually tried to purposely make a cake with a big crumb and I thought this might be the perfect time to try that.  I did an internet search for thick crumb cake recipes and found lots of recipes for a New York Style Crumb Cake and I thought hmmm…. with a little tweaking, this could be pretty darn good as a cupcake!

And of course, the cupcake has to be filled with peanut butter… just like the cookie!  For this filling, I used a variation of my favorite peanut butter buttercream recipe, but made it more creamy and smooth than thick like a frosting.

Oh the frosting.  When you see a Tagalong cupcake…. you first see the dark chocolate covering the cookie.  It’s shiny and sometimes, I just bite the edges of the cookie off and eat just the chocolate part first.  So I knew this cookie had to have that same shine and color.  Creamy chocolate was a MUST!

New York Style Vanilla Bean Crumb Cake
Makes 12 cupcakes

Recipe updated: September 2012

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup vanilla sugar (regular sugar is okay too)
2 large eggs
seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract (split bean length wise and scrape out seeds)
1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  Line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and vanilla sugar for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla bean seeds egg, scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat on high for at least 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Mix in the sour cream, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  6. Add the flour in two parts and mix just until smooth.
  7. Add the heavy cream and mix only until incorporated.  DO NOT OVER MIX!
  8. Scoop evenly into 12 cupcake liners.
  9. Bake 18-19 minutes, rotating pan after 12 minutes.
  10. Cool in pan 4-5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe inspired by: First Look, Then Cook

Whipped Peanut Butter Filling
Makes enough to fill & garnish 12 cupcakes 

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and peanut butter.
  2. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the powdered sugar.  Mix until smooth.
  3. Scrape sides again, add the vanilla and heavy cream.  Whip on high for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 oz cream cheese
1 lb powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Add the sugar/cocoa to the butter mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Add up to 1/2 cup heavy cream or until you get the smooth consistency you want.
  6. Beat on high for 3 minutes.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:

6 Tagalong Girl Scout Cookies, halved
Whipped Peanut Butter Filling
Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Piping bags & tips

  1. Core the center of each cupcake using an apple corer.  I wanted to make sure these cupcakes had LOTS of peanut butter filling, so I cored them all the way down to the bottom liner.
  2. Using a small closed star tip, pipe the whipped peanut butter filling into each hole making sure a little bit peeps out the top.
  3. For half of the cupcakes, I stopped there with the peanut butter filling.  On the other half, I piped a small layer of the peanut butter filling on top of the cupcake as well.
  4. Using a Wilton 1M tip, pipe a beautiful pile of creamy chocolate frosting on top of each cupcake.
  5. With the remaining peanut butter filling, pipe a small dollop on top of the chocolate frosting on the cupcakes that are only filled in the middle.
  6. Garnish with half a Tagalong Girl Scout Cookie.
  7. EAT!