Alex came home last weekend looking tired and wan. But I was ready with some comfort food. I talked to her a few nights earlier and she had a very specific request — vanilla streusel cupcakes. And they were ready by the time she got home.
What does “vanilla streusel cupcake” mean? The most common mixture for a streusel topping is flour, chilled butter, sugar and cinnamon. Since Alex asked for vanilla cupcakes, I was doubtful as to whether a streusel topping with cinnamon would go well with them. So I had this idea — use vanilla instead of cinnamon. And I’m not talking vanilla extract but the black sticky stuff inside real vanilla pods. The result was so good that Speedy ate two cupcakes as soon as they came in and while I was still preparing dinner.
Vanilla streusel cupcakes
For the streusel topping
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup vanilla sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup cold butter cut into very small cubes
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cups.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. DO NOT overmix: you will know you have overmixed if the butter solids separate from the fat.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and making sure that the egg is fully incorporated in the mixture before adding the next one.
Add the flour and milk in batches. Add a third of the flour first, mix; add half of the milk, mix; add the next third of the flour, mix; then the remaining milk and, finally, the rest of the flour.
Use an ice cream scoop to divide evenly among the holes of the pan.
Make the streusel topping. Split the vanilla bean and scrape off the sticky stuff inside. Mix that sticky stuff with the sugar. Stir the sugar and flour. Add the butter and rub until coarse crumbs are formed. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly among the 12 cupcakes.
Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes.
These cupcakes are best served warm.