Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Last October (in 2013) I decided to make my own homemade vanilla extract.  I had been researching it for months and I really wanted to make it for myself and as gifts for Christmas for the ladies in my life.

Homemade Vanilla One of my homemade bottles… on Instagram!

It turned out to be a wonderful thing to do – it ultimately saves me lots of money on vanilla, it was a perfect homemade gift, and the flavor is amazing!   I know a few of you asked me about posting the recipe and maybe, just maybe I’ll eventually get around to that but for now, I want to talk about the vanilla beans.

You see it was all fine and good… except months later, as I start to empty the first of the bottles, I find myself staring at these “used” vanilla beans.

Since they were not cheap and I hated to just toss them out, I started searching  for ways to use them and discovered that I could cut those babies open and scrape out the “good stuff” inside.

Vanilla Bean Paste

Apparently, it’s what they use to make to make vanilla bean paste and other deliciousness…. hello beautiful!   Unfortunately, I’m not creative enough to come up with a good way to photograph the vanilla seeds that I scraped out of the bean, so that’ll just have to do!

You can mix it into *anything* that you want vanilla flavored (ice cream, frosting, whipped cream, cookie batter, etc.) or mix it into sugar and let it sit for a couple of weeks to make vanilla sugar or well… the sky is the limit!

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Cupcake

My first use of that vanilla bean goodness … this vanilla bean buttercream frosting.   It’s not a far stretch from my regular vanilla buttercream (I used the same proportions of butter, shortening and sugar), but you can definitely taste that his frosting is more potently vanilla!

Plus it has the added bonus of those tiny black flecks that just make the frosting look so much  more interesting… don’t you think?   Admittedly not everyone will see it that way… my kids thought I used a dirty frosting bag… buhahahahaha!

Click to see Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Back to seriousness… if you don’t have real vanilla beans, I highly recommend this Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.  I’ve used it in the past and it is also amazing and would be perfect in this frosting!!

What do you think?   Have you made vanilla bean frosting before?  If not – will you be trying it soon?  I sure hope so!!  Here’s the printable recipe: 

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Buttercream


  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening**
  • 2 vanilla beans (seeded) OR 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 Tbsp. heavy cream (or milk if you don't have cream)


Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, vanilla bean paste (or the scrapings from 2 beans), and the vanilla extract with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides as necessary. Unless you use a SideSwipe paddle like I do... then no scraping is needed ;) Either way, continue mixing until it's smooth.

Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time until it's all incorporated and moist. The mixture will be stiff.

When all the sugar is mixed in, you can begin to add heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is good for you!

I like the frosting to be stiff enough to pipe, but not so stiff that it makes my hand hurt! I know that's an incredibly scientific texture, right?

Add more milk and/or vanilla bean paste until it's perfect for you!!

**Before you ask... YES, you can use all butter and skip the shortening, but it will not hold up as well in heat (I live in Mississippi ya'll) or pipe as beautifully because it will be a softer frosting. It will also have a slightly different taste and texture.

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Happy 4th of July with Glittery Candy Apples!!

Red White and Blue Glitter Candy Apples Happy 4th of July

First up… I’m saying Happy 4th of July with Glittery Candy Apples!!  I simply cannot believe 2014 is halfway over.  The older I get, the faster time flies…

I’m just sitting  here realizing that 17 years ago this week I had been married almost 11 months, was 40+ weeks pregnant with my first baby boy, living in Idaho – thousands of miles away from all of my family, and clueless about life in general… ha!

Boy it’s been a fun ride.    Sorry.  I have no idea what took me down that rabbit trail, but back on track….

Red Silver and Blue Candy Apples

Two days ago I got this email:

Hello, my name is Daphanie and I was wondering if you could help me, Do you or have you ever did candy apples in a metallic silver or gold?? I really been researching it but found nothing, and also how can I glitter my candy apples.. I really need help.

Well, since I’ve been asked this at least twenty-hundred times since posting about how to make candy apples in any color, I figured I really needed to make it a priority to answer.  But since I’d never actually made a metallic shiny or glittery apple – I had to experiment first.

And since I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger most of the time, I figured there was no better time than the present.  I added apples to my grocery list yesterday, went shopping around lunch today, and by mid-afternoon… I had all kinds of shiny, glittery apples all over my kitchen.

My original plan had been to just experiment with silver and gold, but as I was digging through my container full of disco dust and luster dust, I noticed that I had blue, silver and red disco dust.  And I was all, “Aha!!  I can make red, white (silver), and blue apples for the 4th of July!!!”

Blue Glittery Candy Apple

So I did.  And now I’m sharing them with you.  Aren’t they pretty??  I think the blue is my favorite of these!

Anyway, since it’s a holiday and all (or it will be in like 20 minutes… I really have to stop blogging at midnight-thirty), I’m not going to type out the whole tutorial tonight (it’s really not that long – I’m being dramatic), but I’ll do my best to get it posted in the next few days!

White Candy Apples

The short version is this… make this candy apple recipe – except use only white gel coloring.   Sorry that pic is low quality – I just snapped a couple of quick shots of the white apples – I should’ve “posed” them better ;)

Once they were hard, I painted them with simple syrup (50% water, 50% corn syrup), then dusted them with disco dust and let them dry.    **I know that disco dust is not approved by the FDA, but it is non-toxic, so we ate them.  I did not and would not sell them!!**

In the meantime, I hope you all have a fabulous holiday weekend!!

I’d love to hear… how do you celebrate the 4th of July?  We usually have a family get-together, eat lots of good food… usually something off the grill… and we either shoot fireworks at home, or go see a show in a nearby town!

This post contains affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks so much for your support in this way! Read my full disclosure policy here.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake (from scratch)

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Brownie Batter Frosting and Ganache

Okay, it’s no secret that I don’t bake from scratch with the majority of my cake decorating ventures, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to bake from scratch or that I can’t bake from scratch.

I’ve been accused of that by the way – not really being a baker at all because I use cake mixes.  Um, those have to be baked too people.  Just sayin’.

But seriously, I just do what works for me and most often in my cake decorating business, that means doctored up cake mixes.  I’m happy and my clientss are happy, so I’m not sure why others have such a beef with it.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Brownies and Ganache

Anyway, that aside, my best friend Kathy recommended this One Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe to me way back in 2011 (I know because I still have the email) and it’s been my most favorite from-scratch chocolate cake recipe ever since.

It’s so super moist and delicious!  And easy… you literally only mess up one bowl for the entire recipe.  Better yet, it’s never failed me a single time!!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Just last week Kathy and I were talking about how there are certain from-scratch recipes that work perfectly one time and totally flop the next and there’s never any way to know when you’ll have a success or failure.  This cake is not like that.  It has always worked for me!

I’ve made it as a sheet cake, round cakes and cupcakes and it’s always perfection!  For this particular cake pictured, I double the recipe, used some for cupcakes and then baked three 8″ round cakes to stack up and layer!  Normally it’ll only be enough batter for two 8″ or 9″ round pans, or one 9″x13″ sheet cake.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Brownie Batter Frosting and Ganache

My favorite way to eat this cake is just to top it off with poured ganache and call it a day because it’s simply delicious and perfect that way.  But the day I made this cake for these pics, I chose to make some more Brownie Batter Frosting to put on top of it.

And then I added some cubed up brownies (leftover brownie mix from the frosting put to good use).  And then… then I put on the ganache.  It was all that and more!

As I was writing this, I found one more picture of this cake covered with ganache then fresh whipped cream. I snapped this picture when there were only a couple of slices left.  But I clearly remember that day… this cake is just mouth-watering, lick the cake plate good.

Chocolate Cake with Ganache and Fresh Whipped Cream

Okay, that’s enough blabbing.  Here’s the recipe!  Make it soon!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake from  UPDATE:  Several of you pointed out that this is the original Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake.  I guess I’ve never read the side of a Hershey’s Cocoa box before because I’d honestly never heard of this before. 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake (from scratch)

One Bowl Chocolate Cake (from scratch)


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans (or I've also used a 9"x13" sheet cake pan). You can either grease and flour the pans, use non-stick cooking spray, or use homemade cake pan release.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, then stir in the boiling water.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip them out on a wire rack and let completely cool before frosting.

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