Posts tagged vanilla

Birthday Bites: Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Marscapone Frosting


The fact that my little darling daughter’s birthday was in August, lets you know how behind on things I am.  I’ve been meaning to post this FOREVER. These cupcakes are the ones I made on her actual birthday and then I made another cake on the day of her party…more on that later. These cupcakes are really yummy and I love this frosting during the summer months.  

Vanilla Cupcakes adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar (if you have it, if not use regular)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla been, seeds scraped out
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (I used mostly 1% because that is what I had and added a little 1/2 and 1/2)

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds until well incorporated.  

Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until almost incorporated.  Add the milk and blend.  Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat on low until almost incorporated.  Remove bowl from mixer and finish mixing by hand.

Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let rest in pan on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Strawberry-Mascarpone Frosting adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 (8 oz) container of mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 3-4 TBSP sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice

In the bowl of a food processor, process lemon juice and sugar until the sugar begins to melt.  Add the mascarpone cheese and process until smooth.  Add the chopped strawberries and pulse until combined (alternatively mix them in by hand if you want a more “chunky” frosting).  Spread on cooled cupcakes.









Things I know, sunburn and Peach-Vanilla Muffins

I’m not normally a complete moron.  I have my moments of idiocy like everyone else. However, I’m usually pretty good at not doing things I KNOW to be trouble in the making.  As I am in a list making mood here is an ever so brief list of a couple things I know (not an extensive list mind you…)

  1. The days I need to be somewhere early are the days my kids will decide to sleep in past 6 AM.
  2. If I have to use my husband’s car and am in a hurry the car will be on empty.
  3. If I like a new TV show it will likely be canceled the moment I get into it.
  4. On a sunny-breezy day when you will be spending the day on the ocean…wear sunscreen!  If you don’t you get sunburn.  Guess what I know to do that I didn’t to today.  Slightly crispy right now…
  5. Finally, I made these muffins a couple of weeks ago and I will be making them again tomorrow.  To me they taste like a mouthful of summer.  

I got the inspiration for this recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook which I checked out of the library.  Joy’s recipe included a streusel topping and a number of warm spices.  To me this seems more Autumn like rather than summery so I adjusted the recipe to highlight another favorite flavor…vanilla.  These muffins also include brown-butter so basically they couldn’t get much better in my mind.

Peach-Vanilla Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (if you have it if not regular granulated)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (if you don’t have it use vanilla extract)
  • 1 1/4 cups diced peaches

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan (of 12) with liners.  

Place butter in a small saucepan, and melt until browned over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder and salt.  

In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, yolk, milk, vanilla extract and vanilla paste.  While whisking, slowly drizzle in the warm butter, making sure to scrape any brown bits into the egg mixture as well.  Whisk until well incorporated.

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture all at once.  Fold together with a spatula.  Once no flour bits remain, fold in the diced peaches.  Divide batter between the muffin cups.

Bake the muffins for 15-18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of one of the muffins come out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack in the pan for 5-10 minutes.

Muffins will last in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days…yeah right like that is going to happen.

1 note



#brown butter



Vanilla Bean Spritz

When I was growing up my mother usually made lots of cookies at Christmas.  How lucky was I right?  But here’s the thing about those cookies…98% of them were crispy.  Even if they weren’t intended to be that way in the original recipe.  My Mum doesn’t like “soft” cookies.  They must be crisp to bordering on biscotti crunchy.  She wonders now in my desire for a mix of cookies soft to crunchy.  She will grudgingly try all my cookies and then say “this would be really good if it was crisp” to which the answer is often “Mum, this is a ______(insert traditionally soft cookie name like snickerdoodle etc.) it is supposed to be soft.”  I usually get some kind of “hrumph” in return.  

The 2% of exception to the crispy cookie situation at Christmas were gingerbread (which she tried to make crispy but usually my Daddy strongly requested she take out early) and spritz cookies which due to their buttery nature are usually a flaky not crispy cookie (not that she didn’t try).  

Mum hasn’t make spritz (she usually makes chocolate ones) in years.  I have a cookie gun and thought it would be fun for the kiddos and I to make shaped cookies that they could quickly decorate and weren’t quite the process of cut-out cookies.  

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Vanilla-Bean Wreath Spritz cookies. A note about Spritz…depending on your cookie press some shapes are easier to make than others.  I tried some very decorative shapes, but ended up having to scrap them as they didn’t turn out well.  So I ended up sticking with Christmas trees which the kids decorated with vanilla sugar and green sprinkles.  Martha’s recipe was double the recipe below and adds some cinnamon. 

Vanilla Bean Spritz

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved or 1 TBSP vanilla paste
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you keep such a thing on hand)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • vanilla sugar or colored sugar for decorating (optional)

1 note







Brown Butter Vanilla-Cardamom Tea Cookies


There are some people who never met a cookie that didn’t like.  My husband tends to lean in that direction while I am really picky about cookies (my diet thanks me).  So it is probably saying something that I LOVE these cookies!  The entire batch has almost been wiped out in a startlingly short amount of time by my husband and MIL who is visiting with a little help from me.  

I currently have this “rule” in which I try to make a new cookie/dessert recipe before cycling back.  The semi-obvious reason being the massive list of dessert recipes I want to try.  However, there are exceptions like biscotti, angel food cake and now these cookies.  Seriously, they are that good!

This is a super simple recipe, but don’t let it fool you.  I may have mentioned before that brown-butter is a reason I will never become a vegan.   There really isn’t a substitute for that wonderful nutty buttery taste.  These cookies also rely on a good dose of vanilla (in a couple forms) and cardamom which you either love or hate.  Being Indian, we love it in this house!

This recipe is adapted from Brownie Bites .

  •  1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, occasionally stirring until butter just starts to turn golden brown and gets foamy and bubbly – about 4 minutes. (It turns quickly once it starts so don’t leave unattended.  Immediately remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and cool in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Combine cooled browned butter and vanilla sugar and beat at medium speed until smooth.

Add egg yolk, vanilla extract, vanilla paste, kosher salt and cardamom, and continue beating until combined.

On low speed, gradually add flour until mixture is no longer crumbly and forms a dough.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls with a small cookie scoop (they will be very tender). Place 1 inch apart onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (rotating part way through) or until cookies puff and start to turn light golden brown, and small cracks form on the surface.

Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool 1 minute. Dust cookies with powdered sugar while warm and again when completely cooled. Store between sheets of waxed paper in loosely covered container.

1 note



#brown butter



#make ahead



Strawberry and Vanilla Buckle

This cake is rustic and simple looking, but so wicked yummy!  There are a number of myths/folklore surrounding the name “buckle”.  My favorite is that the cake is so full of fruit that it “buckles”.  

The recipe comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts by way of Bon Appetit.  The recipe that appeared in the magazine was made with cranberries and orange.  The recipe calls for some vanilla crumb.  I made a triple batch of the vanilla crumb and put it in the freezer.  Now this recipe comes together in a couple of minutes.  

Vanilla Crumb

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated vanilla sugar
1/4 cup packed (1⅞ ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a food processor, process the flour, sugars, salt, and butter until coarse crumbs form.  Drizzle the vanilla extract over the crumbs and pulse briefly to distribute.  Store leftovers in the freeze for future use.  

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for pan

1 cup Vanilla Crumb

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated vanilla sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (or half extract half vanilla bean paste)

1/2 cup (5 ounces) sour cream

2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. 

Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and vanilla-sugar together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. 

Fold in 1 cup of the strawberries. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. 

Distribute the remaining 1 cup strawberries over the cake and sprinkle the crumb topping over the strawberries. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top.






#make ahead




Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

This picture doesn’t do this dip or the strawberries justice.  It is so wicked easy to make!  I’ve been testing some dips to make for fruit and veggies for an upcoming cooking class where the focus will be on healthy good foods for kids.  My kiddos usually eat fruit no matter what the form.  But I know that isn’t always the case for other people’s children.  Vegetables are a different story for another day…

I got the bones of this recipe from Dine and Dish.  Then I tweaked if to be a bit more of my tastes.  Ultimately, this dip has some of my absolutely hands-down favorite flavors.  Out of the many sugars in my pantry dark brown sugar is my fave!  This dip also has two different kinds vanilla and cinnamon.  I used Penzy’s double strength vanilla (I also love Trader Joe’s vanilla) and vanilla bean paste.  I also used Penzy’s China cinnamon (really flavorful “regular” cinnamon) and Ceylon (or Mexican) cinnamon.  If you don’t have Ceylon cinnamon you can omit it or add some more regular cinnamon.

I served this with a variety of fruits.  Our favorites were apples and strawberries.

Brown Sugar Fruit Dip

2 8oz packages light cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla (used 1 TBSP double strength vanilla and 1 TBSP vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon + ¼ tsp Ceylon cinnamon

  1. Using an electric mixer, mix the softened cream cheese for about 2 minutes on medium speed
  2. Add the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and continue to mix until ingredients are full incorporated
  3. Place in 2 small bowls and serve with fresh fruit

1 note




#cream cheese


Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

I may have mentioned a time or two, or three, or maybe four how much I love my Heritage Bundt pan.  Doesn’t this cake look lovely and all I did was mix it up and pour it into the pan!  Thanks Mom!

A word, okay a couple of words about this cake…LOVE IT!  I know what you might be thinking…”vanilla cake? isn’t that a bit, well, vanilla?”  Please don’t mistake vanilla with plain and flavorless.  This cake is packed with vanilla flavor.  Sweet, slightly floral, sun on your face, blue water lapping at your toes kind of vanilla.  It is a perfect foil for some berries, (I used Blackberries this time 12 oz for a $1 at Meijer…Whooo HOO!) some vanilla cream, caramel sauce, fudge really whatever you have lying around or just “plain” it is yummy!  The texture is more sponge cake like than pound cake.

About vanilla sugar…I make my own.  If you have some leftover vanilla pods from a recipe dry them out again and then throw them in a container with some sugar.  In any vanilla based recipe I use vanilla sugar.  You can buy it but really it is more expensive.  Or you can just use plain sugar and adjust the vanilla extract/paste.  I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze and Strawberries

10 to 12 servings 

Adapted from Bon Appétit April 2010 

Nonstick Pam Baking Spray

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (used 1 TBSP vanilla paste)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), room temperature

3/4 cup vanilla sugar

1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup buttermilk



2/3 cup powdered sugar

4 teaspoons (or more) whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon vanilla paste



1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

Standard Bundt pan (10-inch-diameter Bundt pan with 33/4-inch-high sides)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour standard Bundt pan, then spray pan with nonstick spray or spray really well with Pam Baking. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg yolk 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat vanilla and vanilla paste. Add flour mixture in 2 additions alternately with buttermilk in 1 addition, beating just until blended after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top evenly (batter will come only halfway up sides of pan).

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

Whisk powdered sugar, 4 teaspoons milk, vanilla and vanilla paste in small bowl to blend, adding more milk by 1/4 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle.

Place sheet of foil on work surface. Place cake (still on rack) atop foil. Using spoon, drizzle glaze over cake in zigzag pattern. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze sets, about 15 minutes. DO AHEAD Cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.

Toss strawberries and sugar in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature until juices form, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Cut cake into wedges and divide among plates. Spoon strawberries with juices alongside and serve.


2 notes