For my birthday a few months ago I hinted that my husband could get some vanilla beans if he was stuck for a gift idea. He remembered and I unwrapped 10 beautiful vanilla beans on my birthday. I've experimented and have decided that my favourite thing to make with vanilla beans is Very Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream. The flavour in these cupcakes has caused me to staunchly proclaim that vanilla is its own very wonderful flavour. It is not "plain" by any means!
I use a slightly altered version of Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcake recipe (I use regular flour with 3 Tbsp of cornstarch in place of 3Tbsp of flour) and the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe. Instead of one teaspoon of vanilla extract I use a nice, fat vanilla bean, scraped clean. I think I actually made my husband do a double take the other day as I squealed with delight at the plump bean that I was scraping. It was so full of vanilla-goodness!
And the way the cupcakes look with those little flecks of vanilla bean... Simply stunning.
But the best part of it all is when I make them for my son's class (it was his birthday after all) and the kids come up and hug me to say thank you for the delicious cupcakes. I do love when my baking can make people happy.
And vanilla beans will always make people happy!