Sand Dollar Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Imagine walking on a sandy beach and finding sand dollars; these cupcakes are inspired by those warm sunny days. The cupcakes are Vanilla Bean with American Buttercream, and then decorated with Jordan almonds and sanding sugar.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Cakes | Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
Tip: To remove the seeds from a vanilla bean, lay the vanilla bean flat on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the bean lengthwise splitting it open down the middle. Open the bean and use the backside of the knife to scrape the seeds out of the pod.
American Buttercream:
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 4¼ to 4½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • Yellow Sanding Sugar
  • Jordan Almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two standard 12-cup muffin pans; line with paper cupcake liners.
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir the milk and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, vanilla bean seeds, and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter and vanilla bean seeds in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter and vanilla bean seeds about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill ⅔ full, using about ¼ cup of batter per cup. Tip: Avoid over-filling the liners which may cause the batter to run-over the sides when baking. It is better to bake any remaining batter separately after the first pan of cupcakes has finished baking.
  7. Bake: Bake, rotating pan halfway through, 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and a toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in cupcake pan, and turn out of pan when cool enough to handle. Repeat process with any remaining batter. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
American Buttercream:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Use an electric mixer and beat together until mixture is combined, don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Add 4¼ cups powdered sugar; beat 2 to 4 minutes or until frosting is thick and fluffy. Add additional ¼ cup powdered sugar if necessary to make a good spreading consistency.
  2. Use an offset spatula to frost the top of each cupcake, or use a pastry bag and decorating tip to pipe the frosting.
  1. For each cupcake, arrange 5 Jordan almonds on top of the frosting to form "sand dollars," and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Cake Decoration Inspired by: Moon, Jan, Big Book of Cupcakes, Oxmoor House, New York, 2011
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two Standard 12-Cup Muffin Pans Pan Prep: Paper Liners Oven Temp: 350° Yield: 26 Cupcakes Storage: Covered, Room Temperature

Help: Cake Hints and Tips

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