Champagne-Vanilla Cupcakes

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There is one magazine I love to get and that’s Food Network. I really credit Food Network for my love of cooking. Truthfully it was my grandma’s (both of them), but when I went to college I kind of lost that until I stumbled across Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals show… I then somehow became hooked again. So the re-found my love my grandmothers instilled in me.
I used to get the magazine, long ago before I went to grad school. Then grad school came and I didn’t have time to read anything other than school books, but now I’m back to reading Food Network Magazine. My first issue was the January/February 2017 issue. I read the editor’s note and she mentioned that they came up with a cupcake for any reason for every month of the year. I decided right then I needed to partake and try them all. Some sound better than others, but still… I need to try them, right? Something to do anyway.

January’s cupcake is the Champagne-Vanilla Cupcake. Yes please.
The first thing I was supposed to do was pour the Champagne (or in this case sparking white wine) into a bowl and whisk until the bubbles dissipate. ✓

When I moved I misplaced my vanilla beans. I needed 1 vanilla bean for this recipe though so I stole one out of my homemade vanilla. It worked great!

As I was walking around the kitchen working on the different pieces, hubby placed the cork back on the wine and the next thing we knew, the cork went flying and wound up in the glass sitting next to the bottle.

Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Then I needed an egg yolk. I was proud of myself for not making a mess separating the egg.

The cupcakes were supposed to make 12 2/3cups… I wound up with 11. I must have filled them up a bit much… that and we learned with my fried pies that I’m not so good at the math apparently. Don’t worry, I am good at math but who knows what happens.

While the cupcakes were baking, it was time to make the custard for the whipped cream topping.

It said cook until it was thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. I don’t think this qualifies as coating the back of the spoon, but by the time I got to this point, I was so tired I didn’t care and called it good.

I have to say, the cupcakes themselves were better without the frosting. The cupcakes had excellent flavor!!

There was a lot of chilling in making the frosting. Chill this, chill that, mix this, mix that. I’m really not sure I did the frosting correctly…. especially if you see my iced cupcakes.

Mine definitely weren’t picture perfect like the ones in the magazine. My icing was extremely lumpy. Somewhere I messed up.

These cupcakes were excellent. I wasn’t as crazy about the frosting. They were a labor of love… you wouldn’t be making these quickly, but sometimes that’s what makes the best cupcakes… labor of love.

Champagne-Vanilla Cupcakes (Food Network Magazine, January/February 2017 pg 58)


For the cupcakes:
1 half-bottle (375 ml) champagne or other sparkling wine (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (pod reserved for the frosting)
1 large egg, separated

For the custard frosting:
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
Sugar pearls, for decorating

Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners. Pour the champagne into a bowl and whisk until the bubbles dissipate. Combine 1/2 cup of the champagne and the vanilla extract in a small bowl. Set aside the remaining champagne for the frosting.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the champagne-vanilla mixture in two batches, until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form, then gently fold into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds of the way. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved champagne in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin on top and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar, salt and egg yolks in a small saucepan until smooth. Whisk in the remaining champagne (about 1 cup) and add the vanilla pod. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the hot custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large metal bowl; discard the vanilla pod. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate the custard, stirring every 5 minutes, until it is the consistency of soft whipped cream, 10 to 20 minutes.

Beat the heavy cream in a medium bowl with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Add the whipped cream to the custard and gently whisk until combined. Refrigerate the frosting, gently folding with a rubber spatula every 5 minutes, until thick enough to pipe, 10 to 20 minutes.
Working quickly, transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Decorate with sugar pearls. Refrigerate immediately to set the frosting, at least 30 minutes.

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