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Vanilla Bean–Mayonnaise Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing

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16 cupcakes

  • by from The Farm

As an ingredient in cake, mayonnaise makes perfect sense. It is made of eggs and oil, both common cake ingredients. Oil cakes, in general, tend to be very moist, and this one is no exception. I’ve added a vanilla bean, which brings deep flavor to the already moist and delicious cake. The glossy chocolate icing was a specialty of my grandmother.

For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
For the icing:
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 (1-oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tbs. whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Make the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Line 16 cupcake cups with liners.

Add the milk to a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk with the side of a paring knife. Add the vanilla pod and bring the milk to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Cover the saucepan and let steep for 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod and cool the milk to room temperature. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat together the mayonnaise and sugar in a large bowl until they are well combined. Add half the flour mixture, then beat in the milk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture. (The batter will be loose.) Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners.

Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from the cupcake cups and cool on a rack.

Make the icing:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate and stir until it is melted. Remove from the heat and add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt and beat with a wooden spoon until the icing is smooth and glossy. Let the icing cool slightly.

Spread the icing over the cooled cupcakes and serve.

Photo: Hirsheimer & Hamilton

Excerpted from THE FARM by Ian Knauer. Copyright © 2012 by Ian Knauer. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. 

The concept of this cake appealed to me very much since by using mayo you don't have to wait for butter or eggs to come to temperature. The problem is that vanilla is too delicate of a flavor to mask the intensity of the mayo. In addition to infusing the vanilla bean into the milk I also added about 2 tsp of vanilla extract to the batter but I could still taste the tang of the mayo. The texture of the cake was great - the cupcakes came out very moist and baked beautifully, but I just could not get over the mayo flavor.

I made a half batch of cupcakes and a full batch of icing. This is a nice recipe, very moist. The vanilla bean flavor didn't come through quite as much as I thought it would though. Next time I'd save the more expensive bean for another recipe and use extract in this. The icing does remind me of what my grandmother made!

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