Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vanilla bean cupcakes with raspberry curd swirl and raspberry Italian meringue buttercream

Long enough blog title? I mean how do you really name a recipe without practically naming every ingredient in it? I could call these vanilla raspberry cupcakes or raspberry vanilla cupcakes but they are so much more complex than that. And not as boring sounding. When I search online for recipes I tend to lean towards the ones that aren't just "Chocolate cupcake" or "vanilla cupcake" I look at the ones that sound more complex, more steps involved. Am I a nuts for wanting MORE to do when baking or creating? Maybe. But that's what stands someone out in a crowd.  There are soooo many wild cake and cupcake creations these days so one is most likely going to make the exact same thing yet call it something else, or decorate slightly differently. Okay enough babble. I made these for a good friend for her birthday. I asked her what she wanted saying "I can make ANYTHING you want." She said something with vanilla and raspberry would rock. So I was thinking about a vanilla cupcake ( since I am STILL on the hunt for that PERFECT vanilla cupcake. You know, soft yet dense, super moist and very vanillaey) so I went with a buttery vanilla bean cupcake. For the raspberry part I wanted to do more than just a frosting. I wanted a filling, a swirl but not using store bought raspberry jam. I made a raspberry puree using frozen raspberries ( since fresh aren't in season yet) an italian meringue buttercream with the puree added in. I made the puree and it was runnier than I had wanted ( I later added cornstarch to thicken and it was perfect) I found a recipe online for a raspberry curd (that wasn't as THICK as lemon curd) but perfect for what I wanted.  So here are the steps, the pictures then the recipes!

I LOVE the color of raspberries. Hard to believe these were frozen and not fresh huh?

Ingredients for the raspberry curd

A little different of a technique since it starts out with melting the butter

adding in the egg yolk, sugar and lime juice

Once the mixture is thickened pour into strainer sitting over a bowl. Preferably stainless

Scrape the poop out of it. I mean really get ALL that raspberry goodness out until JUST seeds are left in strainer. Stop and scrape the curd off the bottom of the strainer occasionally.


cover with plastic wrap so it doesn't form a film on top and chill in fridge until ready to use

Cupcake time

Getting those ingredients ready for mixing

Butter and sugar with the vanilla bean seeds

The aroma from a fresh scraped vanilla bean is awesome. I take the scraped out pods and place them in my tub of sugar to make vanilla sugar

I did two layers of the curd  for the swirl.

Swirled with a toothpick

I made one jumbo cupcake for my friend since it was her birthday after all

And regular sized with the rest of the batter

Making the raspberry italian meringue buttercream. I am a dork and took consecutive pics as I poured in the raspberry puree. I thought they came out cool so here they all are. ha ha
Gorgeous isn't it? I find that raspberries color the frosting so much better than strawberries do

I mixed some of the curd with the frosting to make a filling. Just my twist to make a unique cupcake

My beloved apple corer that I use more for cupcakes than apples

I only filled the jumbo one. Not sure why. I think I was being lazy. ha ha. Oh wait special birthday cupcake. yeah that's it.

Isn't she purty??  
I have been playing around frosting my cupcakes with different tips, this was Wilton leaf tip #70. I wanted to make a ribbon look to it. Came out OK, could have been a little smoother, but I think still pretty

The jumbo one frosted

These are the regular sized

Jumbo next to the regulars. Makes them look SOO LITTLE!!

I made a second batch of cupcakes for the husband to take to work ( and because I had SO MUCH) frosting leftover. I frosted these with an open star tip and instead of a swirl did layers of drop stars

A closer look

I can't NOT  post a cupcake cut in half pic. The swirls look so cool!!


Vanilla Bean Cupcake Recipe
my own recipe adapted from several I have
Makes 12 – 14 cupcakes


1 ½ cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
 2 large eggs, room temp
1 ½ tsp vanilla
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup sour cream
1 vanilla bean ( optional)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 deg F. Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with paper or foil liners

In a bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder. Set aside

In another bowl measure out the sugar and scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar. Work the sugar and seeds between your fingers until the seeds are well mixed in and the sugar is very fragrant.

Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer on med speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Bead it vanilla and sour cream.

Alternate the flour in 3 additions with the milk in 2 additions. Not waiting til all the flour is mixed in before adding the milk. Beating on lowest speed until just combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix on med speed for 30 seconds until no traces of flour remain.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake cups, filling each about ¾’s full. Bake until lightly golden, when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or the top bounces back when lightly pressed. 16-20 min. Let the cupcakes cool in pan for 5 min then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting, at least an hour.

Raspberry Curd Recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Two 1/2-pints ripe raspberries or one 12-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 to 3 tsp fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar, and salt and cook, mashing the berries and stirring frequently at first and them constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Cool to room temperature; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools.  Stir in lemon juice to taste.  Refrigerate, covere, until ready to serve, or for up to 1 month.

Raspberry Italian Meringue Frosting Recipe 
Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Yield: 4 to 5 cups (enough for one 9-inch-round three-layer cake or 24 cupcakes)


  • egg whites (large), 5
  • extra-fine granulated sugar, 10 ounces (1¼ cups) separated into 1 cup, 1/4 cup
  • cold water, ¼ cup
  • unsalted butter (at room temperature), 1 pound (4 sticks) ( make sure not too soft but out of fridge for 35-45 min)


1. Set out the ingredients and equipment.
Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment.
Measure 1 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy- bottomed saucepan. Gently stir to combine (I use the candy thermometer for this).
Measure the remaining ¼ cup sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.
2. To make the sugar syrup, place the candy thermometer in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water—this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
3. With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the peaks are stiff, you have a meringue.
4. Keep the mixer running and pour the ¼ cup of sugar into the meringue, and keep whipping
5. Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245°F, if it is not there already. When the syrup is at 245°F, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue.
6. After 1 to 2 minutes reduce the mixer speed to medium-high for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is fully incorporated.
7. Add in the raspberry puree 1/4-1/2 cup

Flavor Variations:
The following flavorings can be added to the base recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream:
Vanilla: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate: 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Rum: 2 to 4 tablespoons (to taste) dark rum
Amaretto: 2 to 4 tablespoons (to taste) amaretto
Raspberry: 1/4 to 1/2 cup raspberry puree ( same with strawberry)
Lemon: 2 tablespoons limoncello
Orange: 1 teaspoon orange oil
Lime: 1 teaspoon lime oil


EQUIPMENT: standing mixer, 1-quart heavy-bottom saucepan, candy thermometer

My notes : if the mixture gets soupy once the butter is added thats NORMAL. Just keep that whip going on HIGH and it will come together. I promise. I have had troubles with Swiss Meringue Buttercream having it never come together but this I promise you it will. You will hear a change in the sound once it comes together

Also leave at room temp IF you are using the same day. Otherwise put in an airtight container and pop in fridge until ready to use. Thaw at room temp for 30-40 min and whip again for 5 min on LOW speed.
This frosting tastes best at room temp. Its creamy, buttery and not overly sweet like some powdered sugar based frostings can be. But straight out of the fridge it tastes well more like butter. Hey some of you might not have the patience to wait the 30 min for frosting taste perfection. I know I haven't been able to before.

Also this makes A LOT of frosting enough to pipe giant 1M swirls on cupcakes with some leftover. I would say its enough for 40 cupcakes not 24. 

Raspberry Puree Recipe
1 12-16 ounce bag frozen raspberries - thawed
3/4 cup sugar

Heat in a sauce pan until just barely simmering. Strain into a glass  or stainless bowl making sure to scrape until just seeds remain. Chill until ready to use.

I found this to be the consistency of juice not puree so I added 1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed with a little cold water, added to the puree after I had strained it back into the pan, heated to a boil for a min, stirring constantly until thickened, then chilled until ready to use.


  1. OH WOW! These look ultra yummy. I really like how you decorated them. Awesome!

  2. These look... amazing!! I've never tried a raspberry cupcake before.

  3. hello, do you have a recipe for chocolate raspberry cupcakes??

  4. I just made these, but, I was a fatty and filled them with chocolate and used a white chocolate cheesecake icing.
    LOVED this recipe, thanks!

  5. These look awesome, but unfortunately raspberries aren't in season...I will have to make them this summer!!

  6. You can use frozen raspberries but I agree that fresh are best!

  7. I'm going to make this buttercream. I'm wondering whether to mix the curd into the buttercream, instead of the puree. Shame to have the yolks sitting around with no use.

  8. Heidi - I have never tried adding curd to buttercream for flavoring just the puree. The puree seems to have a stronger flavor than the curd. I don't use a ton of egg yolks in every day eating/cooking so I end up tossing a lot out. If you have an ice cream maker you can always make homemade ice cream with the yolks. There are many wonderful recipes online. My favorites are from David Lebovitz

  9. I made these the other day and whilst they tasted gorgeous (thank you for the recipe!) the cupcakes went really flat in the middle - any ideas what I could have done wrong?

    I made another batch, same ingredients etc just without the swirl and they came out fine.

    @Heidi - I used the curd to flavour the buttercream and it was lovely.

  10. Anon- possibly your oven wasn't preheated long enough, or you have some areas in the oven that are cooler than others OR they were under baked. I find that mine fall flat when they are under baked.

    And good to know that the buttercream flavored with the curd is good! I will have to try that!

  11. Hi again, thanks for the reply and the advice. I think it must have been preheating that did it - just made another batch and they came out perfect! I didn't have any frozen raspberries this time though so used cherries instead - wasn't sure if it'd work but they're gorgeous!!

  12. I am glad I was able to help. The cherry version sounds great. I love cherries I might just have to try that sometime!