Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes with Best Ever Vanilla Bean Frosting

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I know the title is a mouthful, but believe me… these cupcakes are divine.  The best ever vanilla cupcake you will ever eat.  (I actually made another version with sour cream the same day, and I liked this recipe way better).  And the frosting?  Don’t even get me started.  Mel’s Kitchen Cafe calls it magical, and I definitely think it is enchanted.  The frosting takes a little planning, but it really isn’t hard.  And it is definitely the best frosting I have ever eaten.  Now the combination of the best ever vanilla cupcake and the best ever frosting?  I dare you to eat one without “mmmm…” escaping your lips!  I think these cupcakes would be darling for the 4th of July in the red liners with a little blue sugar sprinkled on them.. but alas, I didn’t have the foresight to buy it this time and didn’t have any on hand.

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes with Best Ever Vanilla Bean Frosting

Submitted by Mindy ~ The Sisters Cafe
Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperture
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Bean Paste (Can substitute 2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 for light aluminum or silicone muffin pans or 325 for dark, nonstick muffin pans.  Line about 16-24 muffin cups and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in eggs and egg yolk one at a time and then mix in the vanilla.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Combine.  Add 1/2 of the buttermilk.  Mix.  Add another 1/3 of the dry indredients.  Mix. Add the final 1/2 of the buttermilk.  Mix and then add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined and the batter is smooth.  Spoon out batter into lined cupcake pan, filling only halfway or just barely over halfway.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven based on the type of muffin pan you have), until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with moist crumbs.  Don’t overbake!

Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enchanted Vanilla Bean Frosting

*Note: this frosting takes a bit of advance planning since the frosting needs time to cool so plan ahead! Also, the frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. When ready to use, let the frosting stand at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours. Beat with stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute. Chill this frosting for 30-60 minutes prior to piping.  I chilled it about 40 minutes, and it worked great!

*Makes about 4 cups frosting (plenty for two 9-inch cake layers)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim milk, and it was fantastic)
2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste (Can substitute 2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. Chill 30-60 minutes before piping.

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


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    • Mindy says

      Kerri is right! You can usually buy vanilla beans in with all the spices at the grocery store. The cheapest place I’ve seen it is at Costco though. As for vanilla bean paste, my friend recently turned me onto it. Mine is from William’s Sonoma. Love the stuff! It tastes and looks like you used a vanilla bean but it is so much easier and so good.

        • Mindy says

          Okay Lisa, I added a link to it under the Sisters Secrets tab on the top of the blog. It turns out that it is not exclusively sold by Williams Sonoma. In fact, the cheapest place I found it online was from Amazon. (I love Amazon…) You will love the vanilla bean paste! It is my new favorite ingredient.

        • says

          You can use the vanilla bean extract in anything that calls for vanilla. I just recently discovered it, but I have tried it in ice-cream (amazing!), cookies, and cake. Loved them all. Of course any recipe that calls for vanilla bean is a given. My friend that turned me onto this uses it exclusively instead of extract now… so the skies the limit, I guess. :)

    • says

      i have been using cooks vanilla for years and it is by far the best vanilla out there and they have a wonderful vanilla puree that is amazing, once you use it you will never go back to reg vanilla, amazingly good:)

    • Mindy says

      Yes! And I took the cupcakes to an outside BBQ and they totally held their shape and didn’t get all melty like buttercream does sometimes in the heat. Love love this frosting. Thanks again for these fab recipes, Mel.

  1. Megan says

    What else do you like to use Vanilla Bean paste in? I am considering buying some from (I was already planning on getting some maple extract from there so I don’t really count shipping since I was already going to place an order, and I think that makes the vanilla paste cheaper at cooks than on amazon, just a sidenote). But I’m wondering what else you like to use it in. Cookies? Anything in place of vanilla extract?

    I made the sisters cafe lindt ball cupcakes with this frosting (sans the vanilla paste) and oh, they were divine. Well, before I ruined my frosting. I saw it on Mel’s and saw some people had problems with it. I was so happy when mine turned out. I ate a cupcake and it was the best cupcake I have ever had. Ever. So I put my frosting in the fridge and 5 hours later, pulled it out, let it sit for a bit and tried to whip it back up and it turned out all melty and separated. Everyone still loved the cupcakes but I didn’t, because I knew what it was like before. I left Mel a message to put in her recipe that the frosting is best if it can be eaten before it needs to be refrigerated. just my 2 cents. I think if I had piped it right after it had set up, then refrigerated the cupcakes, it would have worked better. Thanks for a great blog!

    • says

      I just replied to another reader about the vanilla bean paste, so you may have already read that reply…but you can use the vanilla bean paste in place of extract in any recipe. I have now tried it in ice-cream, cookies, cake, frosting and banana bread. To be honest, I couldn’t tell a difference in the banana bread, but I definitely could tell in the rest. And it was particularly great in the ice-cream and frosting. I would definitely try it out. Especially if you can find it cheaper than on amazon! :)

      As for the frosting, I am super bummed it didn’t turn out for you after refrigerating. I refrigerated about a third of the frosting I made for these last batch of cupcakes overnight and I had no problem with it when I used it the next day. I just let it warm up to room temperature on the counter (and didn’t rewhip it), and it spread fine on the cupcakes. I didn’t try to pipe it the second day though so I can’t tell if it would have been different for piping. It definitely didn’t separate though. Such a bummer for you! I think your idea of using this frosting on the lindt cupcakes is brilliant though. I am already trying to think of an excuse to make them and try it out asap.

      • Megan says

        Thanks for up your response. I got my vanilla bean paste and I am trying to decide what to try it on first. I loved those lindt cupcakes so much I may just have to do them again and try the frosting again. Thanks for all your tips and recipes. I love them!

  2. Laura says

    I am planning on making a birthday cake for my husband and would love to try this frosting on it. Do you think it would hold it’s shape for decorating a cake ( making borders, flowers, etc.)? Thank you.

    • says

      This frosting is amazing…but on the soft side. It piped beautifully with the 3M tip, but I don’t know about doing finer decorating. I think you would be better off using a buttercream frosting for more detailed decorating. Let me know if you try it, though.

  3. says


  4. Missy says

    I would like to make this as a cake instead of cupcakes. I assume the temp and baking time would be that of any other cake? 350 for approx 30 min? This sounds heavenly! Thanks!!

    • Mindy says

      Hey Missy,
      I’ve honestly never made this as cake, but I’ll bet it would be 350 for approx 30 min like normal. Make sure to stop back by and let me know how it goes! I’m curious :)

      • Missy says

        Hi Mindy! I used 2 – 9 inch round pans, baked at 350 for 25 minutes, the toothpick came out clean, and they look great. Frosting is whipped up, and sitting so they can be frosted. I could not resist a taste test, and it is amazing!! The final test comes tomorrow!! I will let you know how it turns out!

    • Missy says

      I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Busy, busy weekend! It was really wonderful, and got lots of compliments from my family. I found this cake was very dense and did not rise like I expected it too. Is this the case with the cupcakes, or did I do something wrong? Don’t get me wrong, it was still deliscious! But not the light, fluffy cake I’m used too. I will definitely make it again!! :) Thanks for sharing a great recipe!!!

      • says

        Hey Missy,
        These cupcakes are a little denser than cake box cupcakes, but I never really thought much about it. I’ll bet it was much more noticable when made up as a full cake. I’ll bet you didn’t do anything wrong. Good to have feedback!

  5. says

    I made a batch of just the cupcakes so far. I ate one (Had to test them, right?) and froze the other 17. They are a little more dense than a boxed mix, but that doesn’t detract from them. Very good. I’ll be making the frosting later next week and plan to serve these as part of the goodies at my daughter’s graduation party. She loves vanilla bean stuff! I will also make these again – they are great, as well as simple.

    • says

      Hi Becky,
      Thanks for your comment. I hope your graduation party is a blast! I’ve never frozen these particular cupcakes (they never make it that far at my house), so let me know how they freeze after the big day.

    • Mindy says

      No, it isn’t supposed to look like instant mashed potatoes. I would say the consistency is more like a cross between buttercream frosting and whipped cream. I have no idea what you did wrong… unless you let it boil too long and the milk curdled? Either way, what a bummer.

      • Renee says

        Same thing happened to me. The author of the recipe should have used a description, rather than “difficult to easily whisk”. The author musn’t have very good arm strength. Mine wasn’t difficult to whisk, until it was way over cooked.
        Instead, go by texture. After 4 minutes, mine was completely done. The mixture will bubble, rise and fall. At this point it will take on the consistency of a lemon filling or sweetened condensed milk. It is done.
        Hope this helps. I hate having to throw out an entire batch of ingredients and start over!

  6. Anne says

    Let me tell you that this is our favorite frosting! One question though: I have to bake 100 cupcakes next weekend, do you think the piped frosting will hold it’s shape outdoors? TIA
    Kind Regards!

    • Mindy says

      Hi Anne,
      I made these for a barbecue last summer and piped the frosting. It was probably 80+ degrees and the cupcakes held up perfectly! I kept them in the shade at the barbecue, but they were not melty at all. So I think you should be okay as long as you keep them in the shade, as well. Good luck baking all those cupcakes!

  7. Leah says

    Hi, just wondering if this vanilla frosting is shelf-stable like a buttercream so it can go inside fondant covered cakes that can’t be refrigerated? As you heat the milk, I’m hoping so?????
    Thanks in advance, Leah

  8. Melissa says

    Yummy! What a super flavor. One problem – the came out of the over so nice and domed then they fell a little. Still taste great. Any idea why they collapse.

  9. Kylene says

    I have a question. After you have made the frosting can you put the frosting on the cupcakes the day before you are serving the cupcakes? I like to make cupcakes for my kids birthday’s and always looking for new recipes. But I like to frost the cupcakes the day before the party so it is one less thing I have to do but I know some of the whipped icing you can’t do that or it will melt off. So if I can do this do I have to put the frosted cupcakes in the fridge? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Kylene,
      I for sure think you could frost these ahead of time, but I would refrigerate them if you do. Hope the party is fun!

  10. Tania says

    Hi Mindy,
    I have just made your best ever vanilla bean frosting and l have to say that l found it extremely easy to make and it tastes fantastic. I halved to mixture and added some cocoa to half and again it was amazing. Thanks.

    p.s How much does a stick of butter weigh? ( l am in Australia) l did a bit of guess work.

  11. Anna says

    The Vanilla bean paste is a new product that I have never seen before and am very excited about it. Thanks for introducing me to a new great product!

  12. says

    I just got these cupcakes out of the oven. I actually was short on vanilla and only put in 1 tsp. and it still has a nice sweet flavor with a hint of vanilla. My batter came out really thick. But don’t worry, the cupcakes will come out of the oven just fine. I baked them for 18 minutes, at 15 some were still gooey in the middle. The only down side for me was that it only made 18 cupcakes. I usually like to have 24 but if I double the recipe I’ll have too many.

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