Vanilla Cupcakes with Crème Fraîche Buttercream

 
Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.
— Julia Child
 

The first batch of cupcakes that I ever made and brought to school were a hit. Not to brag, but everyone loved them. My favorite junior high teacher, Mrs. Wayman, told me that they were the best cupcakes she had ever had in her life. That was a big compliment coming from her because I admired her and she was also the cooking teacher! 

I remember exactly what the cupcakes were too. Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream and decorated with a dark chocolate drizzle on top. I didn't particularly care for the attention I got (people want to be your friend when you show up to school with treats) but I really enjoyed that other people actually enjoyed the food I made. 

I admit, I brought treats to school on a frequent basis after that. I loved getting the feedback from my friends and teachers. I made all of my closets pals homemade caramels that year as Christmas gifts and everyone loved them. That year was the year that my interest in baking became a passion. I found it extremely fun (and still do!) to spend the day in kitchen making baked goods and sharing them the next day at school. It's been over seven years now since that experience and food is still a passion of mine. 

Nowadays, Jacob and I are mostly in charge of eating all of my baked goods. However, I try to share them with people as often as I can. My dear friend Cassie and I hang out every couple of weeks and I usually plan to make something that week so that I can get additional feedback and she can eat something delicious! It's a pretty good and even system that we have going over here. I try not to make a large batch of anything unless I have an event otherwise Jacob and I can't finish it. We are only two people after all! 

The cupcakes that are featured this week are (thankfully) going to be served at a bridal shower that I am attending. It is for a smaller group so this recipe makes the perfect amount but can easily be doubled to serve a larger croud. The recipe for the vanilla cupcakes is originally from Serious Eats (I will link to it below). The author of the recipe is Stella Parks and all, I mean ALL, of her recipes are wonderful! I have tried so many of them and I haven't been let down yet. Her book BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts is full of amazing recipes and I highly recommend purchasing it. She truly is a baking wizard.

This butter vanilla cake recipe is full of flavor and is extremely moist. I had trouble for a long time finding an all butter vanilla cake that had good flavorful and wasn't extremely dense at the same time. So far, this is best vanilla butter cake recipe I have yet to try. I use it for almost all of my layer cakes as well as cupcakes. Give Stella a follow on instagram and her other social media accounts. There have been a few times where I needed help on a recipe so I messaged her and she actually responded and gave me amazing advice! How often does that happen with someone you admire?

Next, the Crème Fraîche Buttercream. You guys!!! This buttercream is SOOOOO delicious. French Crème fraîche is (usually) unpasteurized cultured cream that is used throughout French cuisine. French crème fraîche is usually regulated and can only contain cream and the starter culture. However, in the United States, all (or most) dairy, by law, has to be pasteurized so crème fraîche is slightly different here. If you haven't had it, it tastes very similar to sour cream but firmer in texture. It is perfect for buttercream because it is tangy and creamy like sour cream but is texturally similar to mascarpone or cream cheese.

This buttercream tastes sort of like cream cheese buttercream if you've ever had it. I have been using crème fraîche much more in the kitchen lately and I am finding it to be very versatile. I use it in baked goods, soups, sauces, and much more. You can find Crème Fraîche at any grocery store! I prefer to use Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche but you can use whatever brand you can find. 

To top these cupcakes, I wanted to go for a naturally colored sprinkles. I searched the local grocery stores and specialty stores in my area but couldn't find anything. One day at Whole Foods, I noticed a brand in the baking isle that made various natural baking products including natural food dyes. I took note of the brand and fired up Amazon when I got home. To my surprise they had exactly what I had been looking for! Beautifully colored natural sprinkles that were perfect for my cupcakes! I had to buy them! They are so simple but they provide the perfect color contrast to the white frosting atop the cupcakes. I will provide the amazon link where I purchased these sprinkles below. 

These cupcakes are fun, delicious, and rather easy to make. They are perfect for special occasions or hey, even as an "everyday" cupcake! Those are my favorite kinds *wink wink*! I hope you guys enjoy this recipe and please let me know if you try them. I currently have an Instagram and Pinterest page and more social media platforms are soon to follow. I would love to hear all of your feedback and see any recipes that you might try. Have a great week everyone!


Vanilla Cupcakes with Crème Fraîche Buttercream


For the Vanilla Cupcakes:

(Recipe from Serious Eats)

8 Tablespoons Butter, softened

1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons White Granulated Sugar

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 1⁄4 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 ½ Eggs (To get half an egg: whisk one whole egg in a bowl and dump half of it.)

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

1 Cup Whole Milk, room temp.

1 3⁄4 Cups All Purpose Flour

For the Crème Fraîche Buttercream:

16 Tablespoons Butter, softened

8 ounce tub of Crème Fraîche

1 Vanilla Bean Pod, cut in half and seeds scraped out

4-5 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

To Top:

Sprinkles of your choice! Here are the sprinkles I purchased from Amazon. 

 

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 400°f. Prepare enough muffin tins with paper baking cups to make 18 cupcakes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer) add the butter, sugar, salt, and baking powder and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on, add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 

3. Add in 1⁄3 of the flour and 1⁄3 of the milk. Turn the mixer on low-medium speed and mix just until combined. Repeat, working in 1⁄3's until all of the flour and milk is gone. After the final addition, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer on to medium-high speed and whip for 10-15 seconds to make sure everything is fully combined. 

4. Using a large ice cream scooper or a spoon, fill each baking cup 3⁄4's of the way full. Gently tap the muffin tins on the counter to release any air pockets and to level out the batter. You should get 18 cupcakes with this recipe. 

5.  Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let sit in the tins for about five minutes. Once they have cooled a little, carefully transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and let them cool completely. In the meantime, prepare your buttercream.

For the Crème Fraîche Buttercream:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, crème fraîche, and vanilla bean seeds on medium-high speed. The mixture will be very runny at first and the liquid from the crème fraîche will start to separate but don't worry, keep whipping and after about five minutes it will start to come together and get fluffy.

2. Once your butter and crème fraîche is whipped, stop the mixer and start adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once you add the powdered sugar, turn the mixer to low speed and gradually increase the speed to medium-high. Once the speed is up to medium-high, whip the buttercream for 30 seconds before stopping the mixer to add the next cup. Stop the mixture in between each addition of powdered sugar and scrape everything down with a rubber spatula. Once you have added all of the powdered sugar, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down. Whip the butter cream on high speed for 4-5 minutes*. 

3. Transfer your buttercream to a piping bag and cut the tip off with a sharp knife so you have an opening about half and inch in diameter. You can also use a large round piping tip if you have one. 

To Assemble the Cupcakes: 

1. Pipe a decent amount of frosting in the center of the cupcakes (about 2-3 tablespoons for each cupcake). Hold the piping bag straight up and in the center of the cupcake and apply pressure to the bag until you get the amount of frosting you want. Using a large offset spatula, (you can also use a large spoon) apply a little bit of pressure in the center of the frosting and swirl the spatula counterclockwise, pushing the frosting out towards the edge of the cupcake**

2. Once you have finished frosting you cupcakes, feel free to add any sprinkles of your choice. You could also top these with fresh fruits, nuts, or chocolate chips. 

-- These cupcakes are best served the day they were made but can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. 

Notes: 

The consistency of crème fraîche can vary by brand so feel free to add one or two tablespoons of milk if your buttercream is too thick or if it's too runny, add more powdered sugar, 1⁄4 Cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. 

** On frosting the cupcakes: you can frost these however you would like. I personally don't like having a high piped mountain of frosting. I can never take one clean bite if the frosting is too tall! I have found this way to be my favorite to frost cupcakes. 

 


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