Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Today is definitely a Monday. My team lost last night. And I ate so much junk food that I’m suffering from a serious food hangover. Since I’m around food all of the time, I rarely over eat. But last night, with the Steelers down, I found myself stuffing my face with tacos, dips, chips and meatballs out of sheer nervousness.

As the game started to wind down, I started to force my special Steeler Star cupcakes onto friends hoping, for some reason, it would change the course of the game. As the score became close, I had a final moment of desperation and started scarfing down Steeler stars like it was my job – with a side of vanilla ice cream, of course.

It didn’t work. We lost the game. But here is a winning recipe for vanilla bean cupcakes with a tangy cream cheese frosting.


  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
  • Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Mix on low speed until combined. Add 1 cup of butter (two sticks), mixing until just incorporated.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and 1 cup of milk. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into mixture and whisk.
  • With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 stages, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition.
  • Remove bowl from stand mixer and carefully fold ingredients together until fully incorporated.
  • Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour batter evenly into liners.
  • Bake until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter.
  • Combine the remaining butter with the cream cheese and the vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and continue beating until smooth and well blended.
  • Sift in powdered sugar, one half cup at a time. and continue beating until smooth.
  • Add remaining milk to reach desired consistency.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake.

Notes: This recipe makes about two dozen cupcakes. Usually I recommend freezing extra cupcakes before icing for up to three months, but the texture of these cakes (which is one of the best things about them) doesn’t hold up when frozen.

Whenever I use a vanilla bean for ice cream, butter, sauces, etc., I tuck the dried bean into a sealed container of sugar. It’s a great way to get extra flavor from the bean and infuse the sugar. This recipe would probably be even better if I used the vanilla infused sugar!

What you’ll need: Large muffin tins, an electric mixer or stand mixer (if you’re tough – which I’m sure you are, you can do this by hand without a mixer), two medium mixing bowls, and a rubber spatula.

What you want to know: You don’t want to know.


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