Mini Vanilla Bean Yellow Cupcakes with Creamy Chocolate Frosting

adapted from: Bobby Flay

2 1/2 c. cake flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 3/4 c. sugar, divided

10 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 c. buttermilk, room temp.

3 Tbl. vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, split & scraped (I used vanilla bean paste)

6 large egg yolks, room temp.

3 large egg whites, room temp.

Line mini muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a bowl.  Whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, vanilla beans and yolks in a medium bowl.  In a clean bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high sped until foamy, about 30 seconds.  With the machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks just form.  Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.  Wash the bowl and dry.  Add the flour mixture to the now-empty mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment.  With the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds.  Stop the mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl.  Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10-15 seconds.  Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten and then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain.  Fill the cupcake molds 3/4 full and bake until just firm, about 8-12 minutes (mine took 11 minutes).  Let cool and frost with creamy chocolate frosting.  

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 c. powdered sugar

3/4 c. cocoa powder

pinch of salt

3/4 c. light corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. semisweet choc., melted & cooled slightly (I used milk)

1 tsp. espresso powder (I didn't add)

In a food processor, process the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5-10 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the melted chocolate and espresso and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10-15 seconds.