Vanilla Bean & Black Cherry Cupcakes

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

When I decided to donate some cupcakes to the Happy Tails Bake Sale - which is going on June 7th at the Capitol Building by the way at 11th and L from 8am-3pm - I wanted to make something special. I've never sold any of my cupcakes before so I was nervous. These had always been made for friends, not for purchase, so I didn't want people feeling they had parted with their cash for an inferior product. On top of that, I had to work around the constraints of zero frosting as it would melt or spoil after many hours in the heat, if indeed they last that long. (And I hope they won't due to selling out too quickly.)

I had some vanilla sugar curing for about 2 weeks, and decided this was a good opportunity to use it. Plus after picking up a big bag of black cherries at the Farmer's Market, I decided these two classic cola flavors would be fabulous in a cupcake.

The vanilla sugar and vanilla infused milk really make them incredibly fragrant with their heady, floral vanilla-ness. The acidic and fruity bite of the black cherries acted as the perfect contrast both visually and tastefully. In lieu of frosting I simply sprinkled on some sugar to get a shiny and crusty sweet top, an idea I utilized in the White Wine Cupcake.

It's a perfect bake sale cupcake that adults and kids will enjoy and takes advantage of the great cherry crop that's coming in this year.

Vanilla Bean & Black Cherry Cupcakes
Makes 24 Cupcakes / 350 F oven

What You'll Do Before...

To make vanilla sugar, just split open a vanilla bean and place in a small jar. Fill the jar up with sugar and give it a shake every few days. The sugar will absorb the vanilla flavor. After two weeks, you have vanilla sugar. This is a great way to use vanilla beans you just used, just dry them out first and pop them in the jar. For this recipe, I just took the same bean from the sugar and used it in the milk. One bean should do it all.

Sure there is a bit of wait to this recipe, but good food takes time and vanilla sugar is nice to have around the house. It's addictive stuff once you have it, and can be used for Crema de Limoncello. If you don't have time for vanilla sugar, just add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the recipe and use regular sugar. It won't be the same, but it will still be very tasty.

What You'll Need...
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups of vanilla sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
extra vanilla sugar
3/4 cup of pitted, chopped black cherries (preferably fresh)

What You'll Do...
1. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into the one cup of milk. Place over heat until bubbles form around the edge of the milk. Turn off the heat and whisk/stir lightly until the heat dissipates to prevent a film of milk forming on the top (ew). Let sit overnight.
2, Pit and chop some fresh cherries. Wear crappy clothes to avoid staining anything you care about. (Dried cherries or thawed frozen could work too.)
3. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
4. Add vanilla sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Measure out vanilla milk in a cup.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the vanilla milk mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Fold into the batter.
10. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full. Sprinkle lightly over the top with extra vanilla sugar.
9. Bake for 18 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Be sure to rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking!


  1. Hi Garrett,

    I've been reading your blog for about a month now, and am totally smitten!

    First thing every morning at work, I check my email, and then check Vanilla Garlic to see if there is a new post.

    So just wanted to say, black cherries and vanilla, YUM! I will so be making this one tommorrow for a going away party at work.

    So thanks, Garrett, for brightning up my day with your yummy recipes, and brilliant writing.


  2. These didn't even NEED frosting... very nice indeed! :)

  3. Those look good! I won't be making them for a while though, the cherries available here, cost an arm & a leg at the moment! So I will be waiting until they come down in price!

    How did the bake sale go?

  4. Normally a huge frosting fan here. But your description of the flavors in this cupcake make me forget all frosting and yearn for the cupcake all by itself.

  5. laura - YAY! Thank you for reading! I always love hearing positive feedback. :)

    Cakegrrl - i know, frosting sometimes takes away from the cake.

    Holler - not sure, we'll find out tomorrow.

    cheryl - it's def. a keeper for sure. plus the sugars gives it a nice bit of crunch.

  6. This is perfect! Man, I wish I lived on your coast. If I knew you were selling cupcakes, I'd come running straight from the nearest ATM machine.

  7. I WANT that cupcake! Cherries and vanilla - my favourites!

  8. Garrett,
    if I lived in the US, I'd buy ALL your cupcakes....and I just love those flavors together.


  9. Oooo, sounds yummy! Say, do you have any recommendations for a good chocolate cupcake or cake recipe that does not use eggs? My little nephew, who is allergic to eggs, has a birthday (3) coming up in late August. I'd like to make a chocolate cake or cupcakes that he can eat. Thanks!

  10. Teresa - Sorry, but i do not... but you should be able to bring about a good one with a google search. :)

    I'll do ya a favor and try to make my next chocolate cupcake eggless for ya!


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