Sunday, October 3, 2010

Vanilla bean cupcakes + ice cream = birthday goodness!

What to make for a young man's 14th birthday? Last year it was rainbow delights, the year before that I broke out the giant cupcake mold for a big blue Smurf cake (picture of style, not actual)... this year...

Seth's request for an ice cream cake was met with some bad memories on my part of a botched attempt about 20 years ago. I rushed the process, back then, and ended up with a rather soft mess that, while tasty, didn't really live up to expectations.

So I did a little research. One thing I didn't have 20 years ago was the vast wisdom of the interwebs to assist in the effort. A little this and a little that, and I felt ready to roll.

But I couldn't really make just an all-ice cream cake, could I? It seemed unthinkable--all ice cream, no cake? Seth was all for that, but I wasn't convinced... So I busted out a cupcake recipe I'd been meaning to try, doubled it and made a few little cakes, and a couple of thin regular rounds to put with the ice cream layers.

So here's what I learned:
Recipe = yummy cupcakes
Recipe = not so yummy frozen cake
Whipped cream = excellent frosting for an ice cream cake
A couple of tablespoons of pudding mix added to the whipped cream = even better (smoother, spreadable) frosting for said ice cream cake

So next year, I will be ready to roll with just ice cream as a cake for the young man, if that's what he wants. And still make some cupcakes on the side... for me!

Vanilla bean cupcakes
from Chow

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 (12-well) muffin pans with paper liners. Alternatively, coat the wells with butter; set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until very light in color, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla seeds (if you’re using vanilla extract instead, you’ll add it later), and continue beating until the mixture is airy, about 3 minutes.

Scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to medium speed, and add the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the milk (and vanilla extract, if you’re using it in place of seeds) and mix until combined (the mixture will look curdled, but it’s not). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low, add the reserved flour mixture, and mix until just combined, about 15 seconds.

Fill the muffin wells about halfway and bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.

Layers ready for frosting: cake on the bottom, mint chip, cookies 'n cream and more cake!

Completely frosted and ready to stick back in the freezer.

Boy and his cake!

Boy and his buds: Reilly, Andrew and Lucas, taking a cake break from Wii.

The inner workings of the cake...

Another birthday down... they seem to be coming up faster and faster as the years roll by!


  1. Wow! Lucky boy! I think I am going to make myself one of those cakes after all my company is gone and I can sit down and eat it all by myself...with my honey, of course.

  2. looks great as usual! I have had success with the italian version of stuffed frozen cake - zucotta (sp?) by having the cake layers fairly thin in comparison to the other ingredients - ie: cake layer was about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick - worked pretty good and yummy too.

  3. wow, that's such a cool looking cake!


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