Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vanilla Love Cupcakes with White Chocolate Truffle Centers

I'm always on the quest for a great vanilla cupcake recipe. I found a recipe called "Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes" and I'll admit, I was skeptical at first. The only thing that could make a vanilla cupcake perfect is CHOCOLATE, amIright? These, however, are pretty damn good. It's a keeper.

I made cupcakes for one of my dear friends Shannon who had a lunch party at her house earlier today. I've known Shannon for many years since we live just around the corner from each other, but it wasn't until our boys played on the same baseball team a few years back that we got to be really good friends. Shannon has a great heart, with a little "firecracker" thrown in for fun. She's super thoughtful AND she's a great shopping buddy. Her family has been through a lot in the past year and a half, and through it all, she's handled it with grace and love, concern and caring. Last year, I wrote a post where I was musing about all kinds of things including life being beautiful, and one of the things I wrote was, "Beauty is in the strength of a mother (and my beautiful friend) taking care of her child with cancer, who would do anything to make it better for him." I was thinking about my friend Shannon when I wrote that. It's been a long hard road for them and there's still some road to travel, but things are going in the right direction. Even with everything they've been through, she makes time to connect with other families who are going through the same thing, like this lunch she had at her house where she invited several of those families to enjoy a fun and relaxing afternoon with her family. It was my pleasure to make cupcakes for them.

Since it's so close to Valentine's Day, I made luuuv cupcakes (said in a Barry White voice). Shannon isn't a big chocolate fan, so I made vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Everyone's good with vanilla, right? Just to keep it from being too "vanilla", I added a white chocolate truffle center to the cupcakes. You might have seen images all over Pinterest where you stick any flavor Lindt truffle in the center of a cupcake right after it comes out of the oven, and that's exactly what I did. Easy!

I used a new vanilla cake recipe for these cupcakes. I'm always on the search for a great vanilla cake recipe. I tend to like stronger flavors so when I do eat a vanilla cupcake, it's got to be really good to win me over. I found this recipe at Glorious Treats called "Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes". That's quite a claim! I think she did pretty well with this recipe, much better than some other recipes I've tried. After reading the reviews and my own trial run, I made a few adjustments to the recipe like increasing the sugar just a tad, decreasing the salt a smidge, sifting the dry ingredients, and adding the vanilla at the end since I read somewhere that vanilla dissipates quickly and should be added to the end of the mixing (is that even true? I've thought that for years). I also had to increase the cooking time from the original recipe quite a bit but it will vary depending on ovens. I just checked every two minutes until they were done.

Once the cupcakes were cooled, I frosted them with my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting from Cook's Illustrated. It's easy, reliable, and delicious. Because I was in the mood for love, a divvied up the frosting into 3 bowls, left one untinted, tinted one pink, and tinted the last one red and made the cupcakes look all valentinesy.

When I dropped off the cupcakes at Shannon's house last night, her son Nate took one look at them and said, "Those are so perfect! I don't think they'll make it to lunch tomorrow!" That made my heart happy. Then I was rewarded with a plate of homemade cookies and a cupcake calendar. Isn't friend-love grand? JOY!
vanilla love cupcakes with white chocolate truffle center

Vanilla Love Cupcakes with White Chocolate Truffle Centers
Adapted from Glorious Treats
Printable version (including buttercream frosting recipe below)
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk (see Glorious Treats for vinegar/milk alternative)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 Lindt (or other brand) white chocolate truffle balls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line standard-size muffin pan with baking cup liners.

Sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (you can use a hand mixer too), add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add oil and beat for another 20-30 seconds.

Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, and the vanilla. Beat until just combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan. Fill liners about 2/3 full. These do rise pretty well and I guess I filled most of mine a little more than 2/3 full because they did overflow a little bit and created a little mushroom top effect. That's not a big problem for me but if you prefer a cleaner looking top, keep it at 2/3 or a little less full.

Bake cupcakes for 12-18 minutes. Mine took about 18 minutes but other reviews showed they were done as quickly as 12 minutes, so I recommend you start checking around 12 minutes and check every 2 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
vanilla love cupcakes with white chocolate truffle center

While cupcakes are in the oven, unwrap truffles and set aside in a bowl. As soon as the cupcakes come out of oven, set pan on a rack and insert a truffle right into the center of the cupcake, pushing it down about 3/4 way in so some of it still peeks over the top of the cupcake. It will melt and settle in the rest of the way and stay softened even after cooling*. You might even have a little divot there after they're fully melted; just fill it with frosting. :)
vanilla love cupcakes with white chocolate truffle center

Cool cupcakes in pan for 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, frost with vanilla buttercream frosting {recipe below} and decorate to your heart's content!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 3 cups

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp heavy cream

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.

Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Addendum 1/27/13 - TIPS: 

  • Someone asked me about what vanilla I used for this. Since vanilla is the star in this cupcake, I recommend you use a good quality vanilla. I use Nielsen Massey madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract. Some people might choose to use the scraping from a real vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste. I say go for it! According to the folks at Nielsen-Massey, one teaspoon of vanilla extract is about equal to one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder.
  • Also, the white chocolate truffles are pretty sweet. If they're too sweet for you (they are for me), consider decreasing the sugar in the cupcakes by 1/4 cup, or using milk or dark chocolate truffles instead (my personal preference), or leaving out the truffle completely.
  • *If you want to have the truffle center be all melty-gooey, then these are best served the same day you make them. The truffles do harden back up a bit the next day, but I actually prefer it that way.
  • I realize I had a typo in the amount of sugar needed for the buttercream so I corrected it. Sorry about that! You might have leftover frosting too; Better to have have too much than too little!

You might already know that I have a special place in my heart for organizations that have the goal of finding a cure for cancer or that support people and families like my friend Shannon and her son. Any time I can bring awareness to the amazing work being done to help people with cancer, I will, like here. :) You can read more about several of the great organizations that I support (as well as worked at!) at the links below:

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The American Cancer Society
Children's Hospital Seattle 
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
National Marrow Donor Program - Be the Match (Someone asked if I was a donor. Yes, have been for many years. Maybe you'd like to read about it and consider it too!)

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This post is also posted at Have the Cake

Link parties!
Twigg Studios, Nifty Thrifty Things, I Should Be Mopping the Floor, Home Stories A to Z, Coastal Charm, Nest of Posies Valentine Link Party, The DIY Dreamer, The NY Melrose Family, Savvy Southern Style, DIY By Design, Hungry Little Girl, The Mandatory Mooch, Craftionary, Tatertots and Jello, Sweet Boutique


  1. Cheers to you for making cupcakes for your friend. She sounds like a very strong woman and a great friend.

  2. I love these - they are so cute!

  3. Hi Sharon. Seriously, you made these? I seriously thought it was a pinterest photo that you put on your post. These cupcakes are so darn beautiful and the frosting job is so professional looking. I'm not saying that I'm surprised that you made them, but wow, I have to say I'm impressed at your cupcake decorating talents my dear. I'm so pinning these!
    I'm glad you feel the same way about vanilla cupcakes as I do. I'm not a huge fan either as I would rather eat something chocolately, but if I have an event or a hankering for vanilla cupcakes, I know where to go now!
    You're such an amazing friend and it sounds like your cupcakes brought a huge smile to your friend Shannon and her son Nate. I think it means a lot to someone when you take the time to make something homemade because your heart really goes into it and it becomes a labor of love.
    My brother's son battled leukemia about 8 years back and it was such a heartbreaking road. Luckily he is cancer free and healthy now and we're hoping and praying that he stays that way. I truly can't wait till there is a solid cure for cancer. I'm hoping in the next 10 years or less that it will be as simple to cure as the common cold.
    Have a great Sunday with your family girl! xoxo, Jackie

    1. Good morning Jackie! Thanks so much about the cupcakes! When Jake was a baby, I got a bug in me that I HAD to make his first birthday cake all pretty, so I took cake decorating classes that year and liked it so much, I took a few more. He got a Winnie the Pooh cake and I got a hobby that I've enjoyed ever since. :)
      Girlfriend, you and me both would prefer chocolate...every day if I could! LOL!
      I'm so glad to hear your nephew is cancer free and healthy now! That's the best gift a parent (and Auntie!) could receive for their child. We may not even realize that until you've gone through something like this.
      It's been rainy all weekend, and cold! I act all surprised about that, even though we are in Seattle. :) The older I get, the more I want warmth and sunshine and the more I dislike the cold and rain! We had a nice weekend at home though, getting stuff done around here. There, I can look at the weather more positively because I get more stuff done indoors! :) Okay, hope you have a good week, going to check out your weekly menu now! xoxo, Sharon

    2. Ok, so now I get where you picked up the cake decorating skills sister. It's definitely a great skill to have. My cupcakes and cakes taste great, but they look very homemade :) Winnie the Pooh seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? Have a great night!

  4. You're a good friend ;) These just look too good to eat! I wish I had this recipe last week. I just made a post about my daughter's birthday and I made Magnolia's cupcakes. They were okay. But just okay. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'm a new follower ;)

    1. Hi Jamie, thanks for following, and thanks for saying hello! Sharon

  5. These vanilla love cupcakes are so wonderful and are even more special since they are made for a special friend! Bravo! You are an amazing friend and I hope everything is ail right with this courageous woman Shannon. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  6. Oh man...white chocolate truffle centers...sounds awesome!! They are super cute too. I found your blog through the DIY by Design link party! I submitted some V-day cupcakes too - stop by and check'em out! - Lauren @

  7. yum, that's all i can say! Featuring on my weekly wow's on Saturday.

  8. I have never heard of chocolate truffle balls in the middle of cupcakes...genius!

    1. I just heard about it in the last few weeks too! So easy. :)

  9. What a great idea! Definitely going to try this! Your cupcakes look so pretty and delish! :)

  10. Visiting via Craftionary. These are gorgeous cupcakes. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Katie! My pleasure to share. Sharon

  11. These look so yummy and are so pretty to look at!

  12. BEAUTIFUL cupcakes!!!!! Love all the pretty frosting decorations, and they look so yummy too! They look like they came from a bakery!!!

  13. They are so beautiful and scrumptious! Thank you so much for sharing this at Wednesday Extravaganza - see you there again this week with more deliciousness :)

  14. Absolutely WONDERFUL!!!

    Thanks for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer... From Dream To Reality! Can't wait to see what you link up tomorrow evening!

  15. CONGRATS!!!! You have been featured at The DIY Dreamer!
    Come over and grab your featured button... you deserve it :)

  16. holy yummmmmm. vanilla lover here!

    stopping by via whimsy wednesdays and hope you'll find a moment to come hang out, dream, reflect, share and notice lovely.

    smiles to you, lovely blogger.



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