Vanilla Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream

Sarah Kieffer is an absolute GENIUS. Incorporating brown butter in buttercream!?!? I’m upset that I have never thought of trying it.

These were quite possibly the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The cake portion was delicious- moist and tender, but the icing really put the cupcakes over the top. It was incredibly light and flavorful. I may have to make them again for Valentine’s Day. ❤

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. I halved the recipe and made 12 cupcakes. (I now regret not making 24!) I also used fine sea salt. Amazing.

Yield: 12 frosted cupcakes (with about 2 cups buttercream)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 large eggs (I used a scale to measure 1/2 an egg)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 6 T sour cream
  • 2 T buttermilk
  • 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Note: If doubling the recipe for 24 cupcakes or 2 8-inch round cakes, use 297g sugar and 227g butter.

For the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter for browning
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 oz (27g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (226g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with 12 liners. Set aside. (If making a round cake, butter and flour the pans and then line them with parchment paper.)
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Using a large cookie scoop (mine is 3T), divide the batter between the cupcake wells. Each well should be a little more than halfway full.
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (I baked mine for 17 minutes on convection.) (If baking cake in an 8-inch pan, bake for 17 to 22 minutes.)
  13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. (If using a round cake pan, let cake cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, remove to let cool completely.)

To Make the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  1. Have a small, heatproof, freezer-safe bowl set next to the range.
  2. Melt one stick of butter in a light-colored, heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter around with a rubber spatula as it melts and starts to bubble.
  3. When it starts bubbling, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring the butter until it boils and begins to foam, about 3 minutes. It will smell nutty and you’ll start to see little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. *Keep stirring, making sure to genly scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula as you do so. At this point, the butter will begin to quickly change from light brown to dark to burned, so keep a close eye on the pan.*
  4. Once the butter and browned bits are golden brown, remove from the heat, and immediately pour the brown butter and the toasted bits and flecks from the bottom of the pan into the reserved heatproof, freezer-safe bowl.
  5. Let the brown butter cool in the bowl for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. Then, place the bowl in the freezer and let chill until solid, about 30 minutes.
  6. When the butter is solid (but not frozen!), transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
  7. Add the remaining 1/4 pound (1 stick) of room temperature butter to the brown butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium until smooth.
  8. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium until smooth and creamy.
  9. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and mix on low to combine.
  10. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. (I turn the mixer off in between additions of sugar.)
  11. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 6 to 8 minutes.
  12. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 3 T scoop), place a heaping dollop of buttercream on top of each cupcake. (Alternatively, use an offset spatula to ration the icing.) Spread the buttercream over the top decoratively, as desired.

Note: Frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated if not serving right away. Bring to room temperature prior to serving.

About Josette@thebrookcook

I live in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. I love garlic and baking. My hobby (and love) is to try new recipes. My favorite recipe resources include The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Enjoy!

9 responses to “Vanilla Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream

  1. Buttercream is at the top of the list for me. 🧁

  2. They are looking so tempting

  3. monika

    This recipe is infuriating.
    1.5 eggs?
    What?

    • I know- I apologize because I did that to the recipe by dividing it in half to make 12 cupcakes. :/ Using 2 eggs would probably work too- or approximate 1/2 of an egg after you whisk it. I weighed an entire egg after whisking it and then incorporated half of the total weight. You could also double the recipe and make 24 cupcakes! They will be eaten! 😉

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