Cooking with Kids: Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting


Paige, Will and I made cupcakes this afternoon. There was no particular reason … it was just something we could do for a nice dessert.

Can I let you in on a little secret? This might come as a surprise — especially due to my fondness for cooking from scratch. Prepare yourself … When I make cupcakes, the cake usually comes from a box.

Yes, it’s true. I have a few cupcake recipes that I love like Black Bottom Cupcakes and Pumpkin Cupcakes. But usually, if I am making them, it starts with a box of chocolate cake mix. All in all, it’s great since making cupcakes from a box is a perfect activity for kids … there is minimal measuring and way fewer steps.

My secret to making that box great? I add one serving of instant coffee — usually from a single serv package. It makes the chocolate so wonderfully rich.

Once that part is out of the way, the frosting comes …


Butter, sugar, vanilla beans, milk. It’s a simple combination that creates an amazing, creamy topping. I like to pipe it on using a disposable pastry bag and a big round tip to make swirls. Other tips work fine, but that’s just my favorite.


For the kids’ part, they get to decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles of their choice. Paige is so exacting when she places hers on the cupcakes … Precision is a good thing, right? Will, on the other hand, just tosses them on (me too!).

Do you ever make cupcakes just because?

Save Print View Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
frosts 1 cake or 24 cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
3 vanilla beans, seeded
1/3 cup nonfat milk

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy.

To color: add food coloring and beat until well-combined.


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