Recipe courtesy of The Bear Cupboard ( 

Source:   Southern Living, March 2009 
Bear Rating: 10 out of 10

2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla + 1 tsp. vanilla powder (or 2 tsps. vanilla)

1/4 tsp. almond extract  
3 cups cake flour (I used White Lily all-purpose.)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp.  salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)

Heat oven to 350F.  Place baking cups in 24 muffin tin wells; spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
In medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer using medium speed, until creamy and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time,  and beat till yellow disappears.  Beat in flavoring. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; add to wet mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter into cups, filling ¾ full.

 Bake 18-22 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour). Spread with desired frosting. Yield: 24 cupcakes 

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting 
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen 
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 
3 cups confectioner’s sugar 
1 (8-oz.) pkg. Neufchatel cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened 
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1-1/2 tsp. good-quality vanilla extract)
Big pinch salt 
1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream, sour cream or milk, if needed 

Beat butter and sugar on high speed of electric mixer, in medium-large bowl, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, beating on medium speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds each addition.  Beat in the scraped vanilla bean seeds and salt.  Add only enough liquid to bring the frosting to spreadable consistency.  Refrigerate till ready to use.  

Will frost 2 dozen cupcakes or one double-layer cake.  Freeze any leftover frosting for another use, or refrigerate up to one week.