Things I have to tell you:
These are the first cupcakes I've baked since last July.
These are the first homemade vanilla cupcakes I've ever made.
These are the first vanilla cupcakes I've ever loved.
This is exactly what I imagine my wedding cake will taste like (just let a girl dream!).
More things in life need peanut butter cup centers.
Peanut butter + vanilla = dreams.
And these three words: PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM.
I've moved on from golden brown butter specks to black vanilla bean specks... because I've just decided: vanilla beans are the new brown butter.
Have you ever baked with vanilla beans before? It's such an easy way to infuse your baking with an extra rich vanilla flavor that you just can't get from teaspoons of vanilla extract... and since spontaneously ordering a handful of bourbon Madagascar vanilla beans from Beanilla last month (... because who wants to spend over $6 for one bean at the store?), I've become completely obsessed with all things vanilla.
These vanilla cupcakes are perfectly soft, light, and spiked with vanilla beans... like fat, fluffy vanilla bean-infused wedding cake cupcakes.
They almost taste like they're baked from a box mix. Except, you know... better.
Because I stuffed peanut butter cups inside!
They baked up into soft, molten chocolate-y peanut butter centers.
They were nearly baked into my favorite chocolate cupcakes... because the only thing better than peanut butter and chocolate is peanut butter, chocolate, and more chocolate, right? Who knew that white vanilla cake and peanut butter were just as much a match made in heaven as chocolate and peanut butter?
It's simple and subtle and just as rich... if not more: the vanilla cake makes the peanut butter and chocolate flavors really pop.
Do we have to bake peanut butter cups inside? Always, of course, but I baked a few without the extra shot of chocolate and peanut butter... because sometimes a simple, classy cupcake is just the way to go.
You could even put an Oreo in there... or a scoop of chocolate ganache.
Could we just bake these vanilla bean cupcakes, slice them in half, and turn them into a strawberry shortcake situation? I think you just figured out summer living.
And then, because let me just live life, I topped them with thick, rich soft serve-looking swirls of peanut butter buttercream. If you've never had peanut butter frosting, I'm 100% sure you've never lived. I'd never even imagined it until four days ago, when I stood in my tiny apartment kitchen shame-eating it off a spoon.
This frosting is almost exactly the same as my go-to vanilla buttercream recipe... except, you know, for the 1/2 cup scoop of creamy peanut butter.
Would it be wrong to be put peanut butter buttercream on top a red velvet cupcake? Because it's all I can think about today.
This is one perfect cupcake and I can't even deal.
This summer, let's get into vanilla beans, turn cupcakes into shortcakes, and fall in love with peanut butter + vanilla. Let's also eat four of these for dinner with a glass of wine... because yeah, been there/done that/just a normal day.
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sour cream (or vanilla yogurt)
3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 1/2 a split vanilla bean
12-15 peanut butter cups
Peanut Butter Frosting
3/4 cups butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk)
4-5 cups powdered sugar
Prep. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Melt. Melt the butter in the microwave in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar until combined. Stir in the egg whites, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract.
So... what do I do with this vanilla bean? Using a sharp knife, cut one vanilla bean in half length-wise, from top to bottom. Set aside one half for later (store in an airtight container). Use a knife or spoon to gently scrape all the black seeds from the other half into your butter mixture (it'll look like wet black sand). Be sure to break up any clumps with your spoon or spatula.
What if I don't have vanilla beans? No big deal. You can substitute the vanilla bean with 1 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 3/4 teaspoon ground vanilla beans or 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Make your cupcake batter. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until smooth and no lumps remain.
Scoop. Fill cupcake liners halfway with batter (tip: use a cookie scoop!). Place a peanut butter cup in the center of each, then place another scoop of cupcake batter over the top to cover the peanut butter cup completely.
Bake. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake tests clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Frost. To make the frosting, combine softened butter, shortening, peanut butter, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add in four cups of powdered sugar. Add 1/4 cup of the whipping cream, mix until combined well, then beat on high speed until fluffy. Continue adding the remaining powdered sugar and whipping cream until the frosting is the consistency you want... then frost your cupcakes!
Makes 12-15 cupcakes.