Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baked (Vanilla) Beans

Have you ever seen vanilla beans, up close and personal? They're basically little flat, shriveled-up black sticks with stems, sort of forlorn looking, like they're had the life sucked out of them--the raisin of the spice world.

In spite of their lack of aesthetic appeal, though, the suckers are high dollar. I actually paid $8 for a tiny glass jar containly exactly two. And then I used both of them to make exactly one dozen vanilla cupcakes. (Goodbye, $8.)

No, Kroger didn't rip me off. According to Wikipedia, "vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron." I know you were dying to know that. It has something to do with how expensive it is to grow the seed pods. (Yes, I did plug "vanilla" into Wikipedia. Tell me you haven't researched stranger.)


The point of this whole expenditure was to make a knockoff of those vanilla bean cupcakes at Starbucks. You know, those ruggedly appealing, ridiculously expensive (I guess we know why now) ones? Exhibit A:

I have to say, this was a success.

AND to celebrate, I'm going to give you my vanilla bean buttercream recipe. Just cuz I love you.

Worth-the-Extra-$8 Vanilla Bean Buttercream

¼ cup Crisco
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Beat Crisco and butter until smooth and creamy. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, along with 2 tablespoons cream. Beat well, adding more cream (by the teaspoon) as needed to reach desired consistency. Add scraped vanilla bean seeds and mix until seeds are evenly distributed.

Makes about 3 cups


  1. YUM!!! My mouth is watering.

  2. When you're done with the bean pod you can add it to coffee grounds in your coffee maker and it will vanilla-ize your coffee! (Seriously, after paying an arm and a leg for the little guy he needs to be put to work.)

    PS - I LOVE YOUR BLOG! (I HAD to find it after you mentioned it on Facebook.) I'm so inspired I want to run into the kitchen and bake right away! Thank you for blogging! :)