I just had to try this recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes by Amy Sedaris after reading "my cupcakes were voted second best in the city by New York Magazine". The recipe is posted here on Epicurious.com. Let’s see if they really are.
I found these cute cupcake papers at Michael's.
Start by creaming the butter...
Then add the sugar, blend and scrape... you know the routine... add the eggs, vanilla, dry ingredients, etc. Blend, scrape, yadda, yadda.
I used vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. They measure equally and can be used interchangeably, so feel free to substitute it anytime you like.
See the little vanilla seeds? They looks so cute in the batter! (note - the vanilla seeds weren't that visible in the finished cupcakes, so reserve this paste for things like Panna Cotta, buttercream, whipped cream).
I love ice cream scoops for jobs like filling muffin tins. This is a number 20 scoop (did you know these scoops have numbers on the sweeper arm thingy???). The number indicates how many level scoops equal one quart. I have 5 of these scoops in various sizes, although one is currently MIA - I suspect Mr. 15 year old knows more about it than he's telling me. Anyway, they're great for scooping cookie dough, portioning rice, filling dessert glasses, and so on.
See how neat these cupcake wrappers were filled... not globs of batter anywhere!
The recipe instructs baking these cupcakes for 20 minutes in a 375F oven. I thought 375F was a bit high, but I followed the instructions anyway. Here they are after about 5 minutes in the oven... they look fine, don't they?
Here they are after baking for the full 20 minutes. Much too brown for a vanilla cupcake if you ask me... and I bake with an oven thermometer so I know the temp in my oven is accurate.
They flattened out quite a bit too. So I decided to make a second batch, but baked them at a lower temp.
What a difference 25 degrees can make! Overall, these cupcakes were okay, but I wouldn't call them the second best in NYC. The vanilla flavor is pronounced, but the cupcakes are a bit on the dry side, even when baked at the lower temp of 350F.
I served these cupcakes with a dollop of super easy to make chocolate ganache, which tastes so incredibly good and just melts in your mouth (btw, none of my guests commented on the cupcakes, but everybody loved the ganache!).
To make this easy ganache, you'll need roughly equal parts (by weight) of chocolate and heavy cream (the ratio can be varied somewhat, but this is a good place to start). You can use whatever chocolate you like best... I'm a dark chocolate fan, but you can use milk chocolate if that’s your thing.
Simply heat the chocolate and heavy cream together in a double boiler, over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until the chocolate and cream are fully combined. That's it. Use it warm as a drizzle or glaze, or set it aside and wait about 8 hours for it to thicken to a spreadable or pipe-able consistency (pictured above).
Even if you don't try making these cupcakes, definitely try the ganache... you won't be disappointed!