Master Baker #3 [Vanilla]

April 26, 2008 at 10:35 AM | Posted in cupcakes, Master Baker | 37 Comments
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Its that time again! Master Baker time. I have yet to win the title “Master Baker” even though my so-call friend, Nikki, hosts the event. Hrrummph! But they say third times the charm right? ;)

::slipping Nikki a 20 spot when no one’s looking::

Even though I have yet to win, she still rocks my socks b/c she picked vanilla for this month’s challenge. Can you say…? w00t w00t! Raise the roof. Holla! I am crazy about my vanilla beans and stare at them lovingly whenever I open my pantry door. There’s just something so awesome about making your own homemade vanilla extract that tickles me silly. I’ve been thinking about the endless vanilla bean possibilities ever since she announced it but then I got an ephiphany!

I was in the middle of fulfilling a 48 red velvet cupcake order for my husband’s school function, while at the same time thinking about what I wanted to make for Master Baker, when it hit me smack in the face that the cupcakes I was currently baking had vanilla… DUH!?!? I took it one step further and adapted my usual cream cheese frosting recipe with some vanilla bean seeds. Score! 2for!

My hubs LOVES red velvet cupcakes so I have tried many different recipes that are good but not THE recipe according to him. I am still trying to re-create our red velvet wedding cupcake so I have a big standard to live up to. During a recent google search, I found this red velvet recipe. It was the first one to come up so let’s see if it lives up to the google hype…

SIDE NOTE: Just wanted to give a shoutout my girl, Beth, who sent me a tub of the multicolor dragees that I used to garnish each cupcake. I lurve my drageeeeeeeeees! Take that stupid CA dragee laws! Vive les dragees!!
::evil laugh::

Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

(Recipe adapted from | photos from me!)

Makes about 24 cupcakes


For cupcakes–
15-1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3-1/4 cups)
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar (about 2-1/3 cups)
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
1-1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup water

For frosting–
8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 lb (~4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted


To make cupcakes
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

[NOTES: I baked for about 25 minutes.]

To make frosting
Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. In a separate bowl add the vanilla bean seeds to the powdered sugar and mix until seeds evenly distributed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the butter-cream cheese mixture. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

I love the little vanilla bean specks in the frosting

The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.

To assemble cupcakes
Fill pastry bag fitted with 2A “round” tip with frosting and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with dragee on top.

Click image to enlarge


Husband rating: A+
He liked this recipe the best out of all the other ones I’ve tried. He loved the frosting and said he would have liked more “frosting” to “cake” ratio if I make it again. Actually his exact words were “Woman, next time don’t skimp on the frosting!” haha.

Wifey rating: A
The cake has a good texture and flavor but omg… I pink puffy heart the frosting! YUM!

Other rating: A+
T’s students said the cupcakes were phenomenal but they were a little skeptical if the “droggies” (as my husband spells it) were edible. It cracks me up that they told T that I would be an awesome mom someday. Cupcake baking ablility is what they are basing my potential mommy abilities on. Gotta love it. LOL.



  1. cool cupcakes! ur right. red velvet is awesome! but i have a question, where did you get those cupcake cups? i went to smart & finals and got some but apparently they had wax on em. are there 2 different kinds or wat? :]

  2. SUE, I buy my souffle cups/PNCs from Smart&Final but I’ve never noticed any wax and I’ve never had any problems with mine. *shrugs Sorry I am not much help. :/

  3. love these, so cute. you know, i have TRIED to love red velvet, but i never seem to find one that i like when i buy them at cupcakeries to try. i am tempted to try this recipe to see if i can like it better…did they come out very red or more pinky red?

    btw i just got some vanilla bean paste from WS that i am dying to try, so tempting.

    sue, i get the nut n’party cups at Michael’s…they have the small and large! they are by the baking/cupcake/cake section.

  4. MARA, I am the same way. Red velvet is ok but its not my favorite. This recipe was pretty darn good though. Still not my favorite cupcake but better than the other 2 recipes I’ve tried. ooohhh I been itching to try some VB paste! Might have to make a trip to WS soooon… Thanks about the Michael’s tip!

  5. They are so cute CB!

  6. NINA, thanky. A little cupcake competition for ya huh?!! ;)

  7. Very cute. I do love the cups, I wish I had those here. Have asked at the market, but still haven’t found them.

  8. GRETCHEN, ah bummer. I bet you could probably order them online though the shipping costs would defeat the purpose of buying them huh?

  9. CB, I gotta tell you that I had no idea that dragees were illegal in California! How ridiculous! No wonder I couldn’t find them – I’ve been looking to put them on cupcakes that I’m making for my college graduation party in two weeks. What a disappointment!

    Also, I’ve been dying to ask you – where do you get the cupcake wrappers that you use? I like them so much better than the average kind you get at the grocery store. I can’t wait to try out this recipe!

  10. Huh. It would help if I read the comments first, wouldn’t it? Sigh. How embarrassing.

  11. LAUREN, Can you believe it? I didn’t realize they were “illegal” until I was searching for them myself and couldnt find them anywhere! I wrote a whole blog entry about it so friends have sent me them on the DL. haha. No worries about reading comments bit. I hope you can find them! ps. Happy Graduation!

  12. ::looking around innocently:: beth, who??

    i’m glad you like them, they look great! I’m with T, the frosting is a little skimpy :)

  13. BETH, well its obviously not you… beth. LOL.

  14. Ok here’s the deal … if you have those babies you will win automatically the month you get preggo (what? the students brought it up not me)

  15. Hehe oh ya and the cuppys … I luv when you can see the bean dots. The frosting sounds super yummy

  16. NIKKI, fug. I would almost be tempted so that I can win but I have a feeling thats a TERRIBLE reason to get preggers. LOL.

  17. that red velvet is absolutely purty! they look gorgeous- and I love me some vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Reminds me of true vanilla ice cream. YUM~

  18. TW, why thank you sexy woman! I LURVE vanilla bean ice cream, cheesecake, frosting etc. I am obsessed really… LOL

  19. Dang, I got one upped in dragee-land. I wanted to get you multi-colored, but she didn’t have them that day. They are very pretty. I wanna eat a cupcake…this sugar free wheat free business blows.

  20. ZEBE, me sorry about your new diet change but if its for your health than the cupcake aint worth it. *gasp That’s right! I said it! ((HUGS))

  21. So funny that you just made red velvet. That’s what I made yesterday for a coworker’s birthday today. I like your vanilla bean icing idea better. I wish I had thought of that. I even have some nilly beans in my pantry. Drats. I posted mine as well. Your batter looks a lot less “vampy” than mine. Maybe I would like this recipe better…pouring two large bottles of dye into cake batter just seems a little wrong to me.

  22. JANNA, oh crazy! GMTA! 2 bottles? WHOA! That’s alot of food coloring. I think my recipe was less than 1 bottle. ps. “vampy” made me LOL.

  23. Right! I mean the cake’s finished color was really pretty, but that much red dye #whatever can’t be good for you…

    I am definitely making your recipe next time. :)

  24. JANNA, if you make it, definitely let me know what you think, k? :)

  25. I have been having a hankering for red velvet cupcakes for, like, forever! Now i see them here and am beginning to get tempted. And my recipe is one that calls for the 2 bottles of red dye and I absolutely love how very RED it turns out. It actually needs a bottle and a splash of the second bottle, but I always add both.

    And it’s so sweet when people decide baking skills set you apart for parenthood. I hear it all the time. My little brother says that about my cookies. I don’t entirely agree but I can’t wait until mommyhood. Now I just need to convince a certain gent that he loves me forever and wants to give me lots of babies. ;)

  26. BOMBSHELL, 2 bottles! Red is your favorite color. Am I right? haha. I guess I tend on the lesser side but I am sure your recipe is still delish! As a newlywed I get the kid question alot. Most ppl are taken back when I tell them abruptly that I don’t want kids so feel free to have more than 2 to make up for my lack, k? ;)

  27. Actually, CB, green is my favorite color… and I actually did make the velvet cake green just because there was no red. The result was…. shocking but still delicious.

    And as for how many kids I need to have… well… that’s tough. I promised 1 kid to each Calculus god so far(I’ve had to survive 3 of them). I keep offering up my fourth to the Differential Equation god but this has not seemed to please it. So I guess the fourth can be yours. :p Either that or do what I’ve been doing… making babies on FaceBook with friends.

  28. looks so good…and it has the grades to graduate summa cum cupcake, i see! dragees rule–i couldn’t imagine life without them!

  29. STEPH, summa cum cupcake. LOL. You must be a teacher, student, professor right? ;)

  30. I was just looking at Janna’s the other day going, those look like I want to make them. But yeah, I’m kind of forcing myself to love the red velvet LOOK if nothing else. People seem to love them! But yeah all that food coloring, yak. Has anyone tried with the original ‘beet juice’?

  31. MARA, I’ve never tried with beet juice and to be honest I didn’t even know thats where the original color came from! I think you should totally try and come back with a review! :)

  32. I’ve never used buttermilk in a cupcake recipe. How does that alter the texture as opposed to milk? Is it replacing another ingredient?

  33. SOPHIE, I am honestly not sure how it would alter the recipe if you replaced the buttermilk with milk but every red velvet recipe I’ve seen uses buttermilk. I know that buttermilk is considered a biological leavening agent so it probably helps the “cake” create its soft and sponge like texture. According to Wikipedia, The reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to turn the cocoa a reddish brown color. Furthermore, before more alkaline “Dutch Processed” cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name “Red Velvet” . I think as recipe has been handed down, ppl started adding beet juice or red food coloring to enhance the red color. Not sure if that answered your question, but I hope that helps!

  34. Hi, I was wondering with those cupcake cups that you use, how do people eat it? I’ve made cupcakes before with them and have found them really hard to take out? Someone ended up using a spoon to scoop out the cupcake. That made me sad. Is there some kind of trick?

  35. TAMMY, most of my friends and family are use to eating my cupcakes since I bake them so much. Click here to see some how-to pictures when I wrote about it before. Hope that helps!

  36. Hi! I absolutely love red velvet! I’ve tried 2 recipes already and I’m dying to try yours. I’ve recently started baking and the past recipes I’ve experimented with used butter in the batter as oppose to oil. I’m a bit skeptical to try the oil in fear that the oily taste would consume the cupcakes. I’ve read that using oil gives any baked good extreme moistness. Is it the same as using butter? If so, which is best: using butter or oil?

  37. TRACEY, I’ve used shortening, butter and oil and my RV taste tester (ie my hubs) says he likes the oil based better. I think its more moist according to him. I know some fellow cupcake-ers tell me that a combination of butter-oil is perfect so I want to try that soon. Hope that helps!

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