October 19, 2010

Vanilla Bean Mini-Cupcakes for the Fall Fair {Naptime Entertaining}

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

What’s Going on Today: Prepping for the preschool fall fair, organizing volunteers, riding out N’oreaster.

Naptime Goals: Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, Buttercream Frosting IN BULK!

Tonight’s Menu: Take-out Chinese – too much baking to do!

Parenting Lesson of the Day: They’ll never know how much effort you put into their events. And that’s okay.

Last Thursday I baked 15 dozen mini-cupcakes for my daughter’s preschool fall fair. Am I crazy? Undoubtedly. I mean, it would have been much easier to just buy the damn cupcakes. Do you think 3 year old’s know the difference between store-bought cardboard and moist cakes made with actual vanilla beans? I can answer that. No, they don’t. But I do. So, if only to say that I did it, I baked them all myself. From scratch.

Making the batter wasn’t tough at all. The only part that required some thought was making sure I tripled all of the ingredients. It came together quickly and easily, with a few silent prayers of thanks to my large KitchenAid mixer for handling such a huge load.  Then I baked them all, for several hours straight, until I had pans and pans of cupcakes cooling in the kitchen. The house smelled heavenly.

Cupcakes galore

The next day I frosted them, dying the buttercream icing orange and topping it with sprinkles. I hauled them off to the fair on Saturday morning and set up the game I was in charge of, The Cupcake Walk. The game for which the kids each received a mini-cupcake for playing. The cupcakes were a hit, as were the dum-dum’s being handed out at the game next to us and the pizza being served a few feet away. In short, the kids had no clue, nor did they care, that they were eating homemade vanilla bean cupcakes. But I didn’t mind. Baking for her first school activity was a milestone for me. I am sure there are many, many more bake sales in my future, and many more occasions when I’ll be asked to bring a sweet treat or little snack along to a meeting. And I’ll bake for all of it. Because it’s part of the whole parenting gig. And it’s what I want to do.


Vanilla Bean Mini-Cupcakes


 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
cup sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ pod (about 2 inches of a vanilla bean pod) of vanilla beans (scrape out the inside of the pod and just use the small beans)


1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Kitchen Tools Used: Food Coloring Gel Pastes, these are the best I’ve ever found for coloring frosting and they last quite a while!

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 12-cup mini-muffin tin or regular sized muffin tin, set aside.

2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

4. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven when tops are lightly browned and spring back when touched.

5. For the frosting: Cream the sugar, butter, vanilla and milk in a large mixer. Blend until a good spreadable consistency. Use food paste to color frosting as desired.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

If you are serving a crowd go ahead and double or triple this recipe. If you think you need to quadruple it you are better off just buying the cupcakes already baked!

Naptime Stopwatch

10 minutes for batter, plus baking time (which could be exceptional for a triple recipe)

Naptime Reviews

A couple hundred toddlers with orange frosting on their faces was enough for me!

More Naptime Recipes

  • Barbara

    15 dozen?? Yikes!
    And don’t they look good.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! Yes, they were good.

  • Rogmomercarlamac

    Kel, we all do it ONCE for a school event and after that we expedite the cooking for the young ones! mom

    • Anonymous

      You always baked for our school events! :)

  • Bd Stairways

    They will remember the smell of cupcakes baking in their house for a special event and that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. A smell stays with you forever, its a memory and everytime they come home when their older and smell those familliar smells they’ll know their home. They wouldnt get that with bought cupcakes!!

    • Anonymous

      That is so true!

  • Megan Gordon

    I love the “Naptime Notes” So sweet! And in my humble opinion, there’s not much better than a humble vanilla cupcake.

  • http://twitter.com/emilyleonardy emilyleonardy

    would this recipe transform itself well into a cake, you think?

    • Anonymous

      Hi emily, they might, though I’ve never done it before…

  • http://www.nosleeptillhanoi.blogspot.com Leigh

    could you make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Leigh, YES you could definitely freeze the cupcakes. Frost them after they have thawed to room temperature. :)

  • Ckiely128

    how do you print just the recipe?

    • Anonymous

      Hi! You can click “print” at the bottom of the recipe and then print the separate window that pops up. Thanks! )

  • JCo

    Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t work out for me.  The cupcakes were dry, and I wondered if it had to do with the oven temperature.  I looked at other vanilla bean cupcake recipes which listed 350 degrees.   Did anyone else experience that?