Vanilla Bean Birdie Cupcakes

I spent the last week thinking of something cute and fun to take to my sister in-laws for Easter.  I had tons of ideas on my mind.  From sugar cookies, to cupcakes with little fondant bunnies, to just a pretty cupcake with some cut out flowers of marbled white and pink fondant.  Every time I had one that I was quite sure was “the one” I had another idea.  Finally I gave in and went with my first instinct. Which in my home has become our motto, follow your gut, go with your first instinct.

Yeah, so I didn’t go with such an original idea as I was planning on.  However, I am quite proud of these little birds.  They turned out lovely, and so damn cute.  Also, I did learn some things which is always a plus, and ended up creating an amazing vanilla cupcake recipe.  We will say that this vanilla cupcake recipe makes up for my lack of originality with the decorations.   You cannot see the cake and I was having a blank moment and didn’t take a picture of it but it its speckled with vanilla beans and the flavor is rich and sweet.  The taste of the toasted coconut, the smooth frosting with a hint of buttery white chocolate, and the intense vanilla flavor in the cake.  I can honestly say, these are probably my new favorite cupcake, it is just the perfect vanilla cupcake.   I am pretty sure this is my go to for vanilla cupcakes now.  It’s moist, soft, delicate, and visually it is stunning, like bean speckled vanilla ice cream.

The frosting is a White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream.   I used a previously posted buttercream and omitted the vanilla and added 3.5oz of white chocolate.  I insist it be a good quality chocolate bar too.  I love Black & Green, so I used their white chocolate bar and melted to add in to the basic swiss meringue.  It absolutely made it superb.  I toasted the coconut for 10 min, gently tossing it every three minutes to get it a nice color.   I used a wide round tip for the nest and while it was wet dipped it in the coconut which made it stick well and have nice pieces sticking out looking very organic and natural. Ended up the tricky part was the beaks, but after I figured it the pressure and angle to use, it turned out better.  The eyes are just a single melting chocolate button, and a toothpick used to make little dots.  I think you should try this vanilla recipe, it is amazing.  I used some vanilla sugar I had on hand and it just was all it needed to go from good to amazing.    I linked the vanilla sugar recipe I use from Jamie Oliver at the bottom, it’s fantastic in baking.  Just replace no more than 1/4 c of the required sugar with this sugar, it is just wow.  You have to try it.

Double Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 c Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 c Sugar
  • 1/4 c Vanilla Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (7oz) container Greek Yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake tin with 12 papers and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla sugar, on medium high until pale and fluffy.  (You can omit the vanilla sugar and increase the white granulated sugar to one cup.  However, I would then suggest using any of the following combinations:  1 vanilla bean and 2 tsp of vanilla extract,  or 2 tsp vanilla paste 1 tsp of extract, or 1 tbsp of extract)
When the butter mixture is pale and fluffy, add in the egg mixture and mix for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides and mix for 1 minute.
Add the yogurt to the butter mixture, and mix for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides and mix for 1 minute more or  until well combined.
Turn the mixer down to low and slowly, pour in the flour mixture.  Once all of the flour mixture is added in remove the bowl from mixer and scrape down the sides folding in any unincorporated flour.   Once all the flour has been incorporated into the mixture pour into the prepared cupcake lined pan.
Place your cupcakes into the oven and bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.  Cooking time varies depending on oven, so at 15 minutes check your cupcakes and cook the full time if needed.   Makes 12-15 cupcakes


Don’t buy vanilla pods that are dry and hard — buy them fat, sticky and squashy. What we want to do is infuse the natural vanilla flavor of the vanilla pods into the sugar. It is perfectly fine, and obviously quicker, just to pop the pods in an airtight container with the sugar; you will achieve a more subtle flavor. I really like this recipe, though, because you get the maximum flavor from the pods.

  • 1 pound sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans

You need a food processor for this one. Put your vanilla pods in the mixer, blitz, scrape the sides and blitz again. Add all the sugar and blitz for about 2 minutes. Sieve the mixture into a bowl, return any lumps to the food processor and blitz again. (You may want to repeat this process if you want it really fine). The result will be a slightly ashy-colored mixture — now that’s real vanilla sugar!  Store it in an airtight container. It should last you for ages.