Sweet Greens

Baking makes me very happy, if only because I get to use my fabulous Kitchen Aid mixer. Around the different holidays of the year, I like to bake cookies and cupcakes for my family, friends and staff at work. What a great way to show your appreciation without spending a bunch of money!

shamrock pot

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this year, I made Martha Stewart ‘s Perfect Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing and tried out the recipe for Vanilla, Vanilla cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream frosting from Billy’s Bakery in New York. Needless to say, they were a hit!

The cupcake recipe was found at a great little blog, 52 cupcakes. I have to agree with the cupcake queen, these are fabulous! I made the cupcakes in gold foil baking cups and decorated them with little shamrock picks I found at Michael’s and green sprinkles. Delicious AND adorable!

billy's bakery vanilla cupcakes


Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Billy’s Vanilla Buttercream

vanilla cupcake recipe

Makes enough for 30 cupcakes

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

Martha Stewart’s Perfect Sugar Cookies

sugar cookie recipe

Makes 2 dozen

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
  5. Decorate with Royal Icing, optional.

Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing

Makes 2 1/3 cups

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
sugar cookie favor
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Remarks: As for Martha’s cookies, I still need to master my flooding technique. Otherwise, people seem to like the flavor of the cookie (even though royal icing pretty much tastes like powdered sugar).  I’ve made them with brandy and with milk.  It seemed to me that the ones with brandy were easier to roll out and less sticky.

To finish, place two cookies in decorative clear bags. I wrote “You’re my Lucky Charm” on the bags – a neat treat for staff to show your appreciation.


What do you think?