Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vanilla Latte Cupcakes

Vanilla lattes are my absolute, hands-down, "this-is-the-drink-I-always-order-anywhere-possible" favorite beverage.  I'm about 15 years running on this one.  :)  I rarely deviate from my standard vanilla latte, and the times that I have, I ended up wishing that I had just ordered my "regular."

Do you have a favorite like this?  Do tell.

When I saw this recipe, there was absolutely no question that I would make them.  And there was never any doubt in my mind that I would love them.  The question was "When would I make them?" and I wondered if I needed to plan to make them to give away or just resign myself to eating the entire batch single-handedly.

As my luck would have it, I ended up with the best of both worlds.  I made them for a gathering, and since I made them mini, there were a lot--and I mean, a lot!--left over.  Perfect.

The coffee flavor in these cupcakes really shines through and isn't distracted by any chocolate (you know me and chocolate!  I just don't require it!), the crumb is perfectly tender and soft, and the swiss meringue frosting is borderline sinful.  I've been calling the mini ones "poppers" and I figure it takes about 4 of them to equal one regular size one.  Again, perfect!  {I also like to believe that calories are non-existent in the mini ones.  Just sayin'.}

*A little sidenote on the yield:  for this recipe, which I made as written, I ended up with 48 mini cupcakes and enough batter left over to make 6 regular cupcakes.  For all regular size, you will end up with 12-18 cupcakes.  I also made the frosting as written, and ended up with some left over as well.

Vanilla Latte Cupcakes
Adapted from Pink Parsley

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee {I used espresso}
1/4 cup + 2 tbl. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the brewed coffee/espresso and milk.

Starting and ending with the flour, in a few additions alternately add the flour and milk mixture to the mixer, mixing on low speed until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between 18 cupcake liners, filling each cup about 2/3 to 3/4 full or 2 pans of mini cupcakes.

Bake 18-22 minutes (15 minutes for mini), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped OR 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (or to taste) dissolved into 2 teaspoons boiling water
Pinch of salt 

Combine the egg whites and sugar in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a pot of simmering water, and heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches 160 degrees.

Attach the bowl to the mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment). Starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high, beat the mixture until the bottom of the bowl cools to room temperature and the egg whites are thick and glossy and form soft peaks.

While mixing, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Continue mixing until the frosting comes together. Switch to the paddle attachment and over medium speed, add in the vanilla extract, vanilla bean, coffee mixture, and salt. Beat until well combined and taste and adjust flavorings as necessary.

Frost cupcakes as desired.  I used a reusable pastry bag fitted with a mini star tip.

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