Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Visit From Montana : Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes

Nearly 12 years ago, a long time (think high school) friend of my mothers gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Montana, named after a state that holds a special place in her mothers heart. That baby was a little gift that nobody saw coming. You see, none of my mothers old high school pals, at least none that I had grown up knowing, had chosen to have children. Many of these friends were her closest, so, as an only child myself I spent most of my time either around adults, or in my own world of make believe. I was in my teens when Montana was born, so while she wasn't the promise of a playmate I would've likely wished for a few years prior, she was the most exciting addition to the group to come along for as long as I can remember.  

Tana is likely the most down to earth, calm, sweetest 11 (almost 12) year old you'll ever meet. She's polite, well spoken, considerate, and always has something interesting to say. She also adores being in the kitchen, my kind of girl. With this in mind, I invited her up for a girls sleepover. I imagined 11 year old me, and how cool I would feel if a 25 year old I looked up to invited me over to their house for a sleepover. 11 year old me would've thought that was pretty awesome. . . 

So, when I called her mother to finalize plans, you can't imagine my excitement when the first thing I hear from Montana's lips is 'we have to make cupcakes'. 25 year old me was thrilled. I knew our evening together would be full of sugar and flour, whisking and mixing. An afternoon, for me, could not be spent in a better way.

*montana's photograph*

Upon her arrival I pulled out my arsenal of cupcake recipes, cookbooks and cards and urged that she find the cupcake she most wanted to make. Narrowing it down to, oh, about 15 at first, then slowly chipping away at the pile of recipes until we landed on this, absolutely amazing, cupcake recipe. Moist vanilla cake topped with vanilla bean, lemon kissed cheesecake batter, and (yes, and) brown sugar crumbles. As if that wasn't over the top enough, each one is finished with a pile of fresh berries and a dusting of powdered sugar. A cupcake recipe could not be more perfect. And, little did I know it, not until we sat down, peeled back the waxy rapper and began devouring our hard work, that these were the quintessential end of summer cupcake as well. Light, spongy, cheesy, crunchy, and bright. A perfect crown on a pretty perfect summer, and an amazing evening. 

Not only did Montana helm the baking of these gems, but she excitedly shot the picture above. I wonder, do we have a budding baker, photographer, dare I say food blogger on our hands?

Vanilla Cheesecake Cupcakes 
from Cupcakes by Elinor Klivans


1 1/4 cups unbleached ap flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1/2 canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream


1 8 ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice from one small lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 cup ap flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 325 F.

1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl, set aside. 
2. Using an electric mixer w/a paddle attachment, on medium speed beat the egg, yolk, and sugar until thick and light, appx 2 minutes.
3. Scrape bowl as needed (and now), on low speed add the oil and vanilla. Mix well to combine. Add sour cream and mix well, yet again.
4. Finally, mix in the flour mixture on low speed, mixing until just combined. 


1. Rinse out your electric mixer, no need to an intense clean. In an electric mixer w/the paddle attachment, on low speed, mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth. 
2. Add egg, lemon zest, and juice, mix well. 
3. Set mixture aside.


1. In a small/medium sized bowl mix flour, brown sugar, salt and melted butter until crumbly.


1. Line a 12 count muffin tin with liners. Your oven will have been preheated to 325 F.  
2. Fill each liner about 1/2 way with cupcake batter.
3. Top each cake with a large spoonful of cheesecake batter. 
4. Now top each with a tablespoon of brown sugar crumble. 
5. Place the whole shabang in the oven for 25-30 minutes. 
6. Remove from the oven when cupcakes are cooked through and allow to cool in pan an additional 25 minutes.
7. Remove cakes from pan, place on wire rack, cool completely. 
8. Garnish with fresh berries and dusting of powdered sugar. 
9. Try to resist eating them all! 

Thank you for a wonderful day lovely girl. Your overnight visit was a sheer delight.


RachelleLouise said...

What a sweet and gorgeous post! Loved the story, the photos, the recipe! What a special time the two of you had! I'm glad you're 25 year old self had such a ball! xx