Triple Vanilla Cupcakes

triplevanillacupcakesMy grandma Zella made filled cupcakes years before they became trendy. Perhaps she was a baker ahead of her time – or perhaps she saw a recipe in Woman’s Day magazine and thought, like their food editors, that two desserts combined into one was just a great idea. Usually, her cupcakes used Duncan Hines cake mix and packaged pudding mix; not from scratch, but very tasty nonetheless. I remember a particularly tasty yellow cupcake that was filled with lemon pudding, then dusted with powdered sugar. Simple, yet delicious.

Last week’s Boston Cream Cupcakes left me with a back-up batch of pastry cream that used a slightly different recipe, so today I tossed together these triple vanilla cupcakes – a vanilla cupcake with vanilla pastry cream, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting. If you’re a vanilla fan, you’ll love these cupcakes.

Pastry Cream II


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place a heatproof bowl and fine mesh sieve next to your stove.

In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until warmed and wisps of steam appear; do not allow to simmer or boil.

In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Add egg yolks and mix well; mixture will form a thick paste, and it can be crumbly or smooth – the most important thing is for your ingredients to be well-mixed.

Slowly pour heavy cream into egg mixture, whisking constantly, then return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes; mixture will look foamy at first, then will become thick and glossy. Once the mixture becomes thick and glossy, remove it from the heat and whisk in vanilla extract.

Pour the pastry cream through the sieve; you’ll need to stir and press firmly to get it to pass through. Press plastic wrap on the surface and allow to set up overnight.

Old-Fashioned Vanilla Cupcakes


  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; my batch made 20 cupcakes.

Combine milk and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cake flour, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, then reduce mixer speed to low and add butter a few cubes at a time. Continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture looks like coarse sand.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the vanilla milk mixture.

Return to medium speed and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl well.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into prepared cupcake pans, filling about 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pans immediately and cool completely on a wire rack.

Very Vanilla Buttercream


  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract


In a mixing bowl, beat butter and salt on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until fully incorporated, about 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.

To assemble the cupcakes:

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip pastry cream for 2-3 minutes to lighten.

Using a small knife, cut into the center of each cupcake at a 45-degree angle, about 1/8 inch from the edge, all the way around. Remove the core and cut away all but the top 1/4 inch, leaving a small disc of cake. Reserve the scraps for a trifle or other treat.

Fill the inside with pastry cream and top with the disc of cake.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of frosting onto each cupcake and spread with an offset spatula.

Store in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before serving.



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