Monday, June 11, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes, a Delicious Blank Canvas

  What would YOU add?

When the mercury rises, baking can be unappealing.   Sometimes it's necessary, however; birthdays, for example, really require a baked, iced creation.  My kids were considerately born in November and February, but I have a slew of nieces and nephews with August birthdays.   When we are all at the beach together, so I am often called upon to provide a celebratory cake.

But on those steamy days, minimal oven time is what the doctor ordered--so we go with cupcakes.   The casual way cupcakes are served and eaten is also more in keeping with the easy, breezy nature of summer entertaining, and they generally only require about 25 minutes in the oven.

We recently made a batch of vanilla cupcakes for a teen sleepover.  During a break between Nicholas Sparks films (I know, I know) the girls sought sustenance--doubtless they needed some legitimate sugar after all that saccharine.

This recipe is plain, yes, but delicious nonetheless.  And no one's stopping you from adding sprinkles, colored sugars, or fresh berries...

The Cakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2  cups sugar
1 stick butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (regular milk can be substituted but buttermilk gives better flavor)

Heat oven to 350.  Line 15 muffin cups with paper liners or grease thoroughly.

Mix all ingredients in large bowl with electric mixer til thoroughly blended and smooth.   Ladle into prepared  pans, filling each cupcake about 2/3 full.   Bake 20-25 mins til lightly browned on edges, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely and ice as desired.

The Icing
1 stick butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar (or more to achieve proper thickness and texture)
1 TBSP heavy cream (milk, half and half, or light cream can be used instead)
1 TBSP vanilla

Beat butter and cream cheese til smooth.  Add sugar gradually til it achieves an appropriate consistency--slightly dry.  Add cream and vanilla to moisten and beat again til creamy. 

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