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Creme Fraiche Vanilla Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

November 10, 2011

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake day!!  I’m embracing today’s dessert of choice simply because I wanted to bake something just because it was pretty.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really come to appreciate a good vanilla cupcake (they are hard to come by!) but I’ve always really been team chocolate if I had to be honest.  I’ve baked my fair share of vanilla cupcakes too so I wanted these to be different, a little more sophisticated 🙂  I mean I am the poster child for sophisticated sitting here in my pajamas covered in flour and butter looking like I could use a third cup of coffee.



With just a few minor changes these cupcakes are nudged over the edge to the wow zone.  They are buttery and moist and then the creme fraiche adds a delicate richness to the cake making them irrisistable.



Top it all off with swiss meringue buttercream, quite possibly the best frosting ever, and the cupcake becomes my ultimate vanilla cupcake.  If you’ve never had (or made) swiss meringue buttercream you need to.  Like now.  It makes you wonder if you’ve ever had real frosting before.  Light, buttery and not too sweet, you can pile it on without it overtaking the cake flavor (just disregard calorie or fat counts!).  So go find yourself a vanilla cupcake and enjoy the day!!

Creme Fraiche Vanilla Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yields approximately 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature

5 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3-4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring of choice

Directions:

1. For the Cupcakes: In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.  Cream the butter for about 3 minutes in a large mixing bowl on medium speed of an electric mixer.  Gradually beat in sugar and continue to beat until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, periodically scraping down the bowl.  Beat in vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture in two parts alternating with the creme fraiche.

2. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes spring back at touch.  Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

3. For the swiss meringue buttercream:  In a medium size pot pour enough water to come up about an inch.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to keep the water at a slow simmer.  In a very clean, dry, streak free metal bowl of a standing mixer place the egg whites and sugar.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side and place the bowl over the simmering water.  Whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly until the temperature reaches 140 degrees (F).  Remove the bowl from the heat (and turn it off all together!), remove the candy thermometer and transfer the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Start beating the egg whites on medium and gradually increase the speed to medium-high until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.  Start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time.  The egg whites will deflate and the mixture becomes soupy-thats good-it should be 🙂  Keep beating and adding butter cubes gradually.  When you reach about 3 sticks of butter the mixture will start to look like it’s curdling-you’re almost there!  Turn the speed up to high and add a few more cubes of butter, beating until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.  Add vanilla or flavoring of choice and any gel food coloring if desired and use immediately.

-if you’ve added all the butter and it still doesn’t look like the frosting is coming together your butter was probably just a little too soft.  Place the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes and then return to beating it, it should fluff up just fine.

-If you can’t use the frosting immediately it can either be stored covered at room temperature for a few hours or covered and refrigerated for a day-just let it come to room temperature and you may have to beat it a bit before using.

I store the cupcakes covered at room temperature and they’ve lasted for 2 days.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2011 8:22 am

    These look stunning-love the color and the pearl sugar! I am trying to imagine how moist and tasty these are. The addition of the creme fraiche must add a great texture as well as flavor to these. I am still on the search for a great vanilla cupcake, so I have saved your recipe to try. You have done an awesome job in showcasing these gems-great post.

    • November 10, 2011 10:50 pm

      thank you! the creme fraiche really made a difference-the batter itself was absolutely amazing!

  2. November 10, 2011 9:38 am

    Wow, these are gorgeous! Love the purple frosting and pearls. How do you get your frosting to look so perfect??

  3. November 10, 2011 5:58 pm

    Beautiful cupcakes! I love the carefully applied decorations on them. I NEED these cupcakes 😀

    • November 10, 2011 10:52 pm

      I love that you noticed my carefully applied decorations! lol my husband generally makes fun of me for it 🙂

  4. November 12, 2011 2:10 pm

    PERFECT cupcakes! Your buttercream looks amazing!!!

  5. November 13, 2011 1:06 pm

    Love the frosting color, purple is my favorite. I’m team chocolate also, however these look very good. I will give them a try!

  6. November 13, 2011 2:00 pm

    Linda, these have turned out so beautifully that you have inspired me to try swiss meringue buttercream once more – I had a horrible disaster with it in the past. Love your photos and totally identify with that ‘need a third cup of coffee’ + ‘still in PJs, covered in flour’ moment. 🙂

  7. Evelyn permalink
    January 8, 2012 10:00 pm

    What color and make gel did you use for the frosting

  8. June 11, 2012 9:32 pm

    I am making these tomorrow. Creme fraiche makes everything taste better! What icing tip # did you use? Lovely flow.

    • June 11, 2012 9:50 pm

      Thank you and good luck!! I love these cupcakes 🙂 I just used a wilton 1M the large open star 🙂

      • June 11, 2012 9:54 pm

        THANKS! You have eliminated me from experimenting (which can be productive) with my tips and knowing I don’t own that one. Tomorrow I go a shopping!

  9. February 20, 2013 9:10 pm

    Buttercream and I don’t usually get along, I’ve tried and tried again and usually settle for cream cheese type frosting. This was my first time working with egg whites and doing the whole meringue process. The cupcakes and the frosting turned out beautifully. And you are so correct, it was not too sweet like most buttercream frosting and don’t get me started on creme fraiche, which I had just picked up for the first time for my sons scrambled eggs and to do something different. I tinted my frosting a mint green using organic food coloring from Whole Foods, since St. Patty’s Day is near. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

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