I have a couple of chocolate cake/cupcake recipes that I'm very happy with, but I'm still on a quest for an ideal vanilla cupcake. I don't know what it is exactly that makes this a difficult search, but somehow, I have yet to find a perfect vanilla cupcake recipe. They're always either too dry, or too sweet, and above all, not vanilla-ey enough. And it's not as simple as doubling the amount of vanilla extract, either (then it's too one-dimensional). I should probably try getting some vanilla beans and see if that makes a difference (although that would make vanilla cupcakes rather expensive, sigh). Anyway, the latest recipe on the testing block is from Martha Stewart and I picked it because it calls for sour cream, which I figured would take care of the dryness problem (and also because I had bought some for potato salad). It was in fact a nice, moist cupcake with a good rise, and it was really good right out of the oven. I'm not as crazy about the texture after it cools though. To be fair, we are having a cold snap here, and I cooled the cupcakes on my windowsill, which is probably close to freezing point (my windows have actually frozen over! Brrr.) so I'm sure that didn't help the texture! Anyway, it's a decent cake, but the search continues.
The frosting is my old standby from King Arthur Flour (you can find the recipe here) and is my all time favorite (and I'm not even a big frosting fan!). Plus, it's made with cocoa, which I always have on hand. And since these were for a birthday, I decided to forgo my usual restraint (haha) and showered them with sprinkles.
Here's the birthday girl! We used to work together and now that I'm working elsewhere, I don't see her as often as I used to, but we had a fun time catching up (and I got to see her adorable kids and chat with her husband). I wish I had thought to bring my actual camera with me, but this crappy phone image will have to suffice--please pay special attention to her awesome gingerbread house which has lighting! And windows made out of butterscotch candies. I think the inhabitants were My Little Ponys, but they must have been out when I visited. Oh, and that blur in the corner is her younger kiddo, who was starting to resemble a Na'avi when I left. Heehee.
Anyway, I hope she had a good birthday, and we have plans to go to Dinosaur BBQ soon, woohoo!
And finally, a request--does anyone have a vanilla cupcake recipe they love? Please send it to me!