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Vanilla extract (Recipe: whole wheat lemon-lime yogurt cupcakes)

Lemon-lime yogurt cupcakes 

Ever since I began writing about food almost twenty years ago, the kitchen and pantry have provided my family members with a reason to bring home great souvenirs (for me!) from their wanderings all around the world.

When my husband Ted travels, whether far away or close to home, he brings cookbooks, food, spoons and occasional yard-sale props for my photography.

When my sister-in-law travels, she brings wooden spoons and kitchen tools for my collection. Sometimes they're not even meant for the kitchen; a recent plier-like wooden contraption turns out to be an antique glove-stretcher, but it works just like an elegant pair of tongs.

When my favorite cousin travels, he brings vanilla extract and vanilla beans, and other goodies for my pantry. This week he's returning from Tahiti, where he was able to view the recent solar eclipse.

Tahiti is a long way to go for an eclipse, but not so far to travel for some of the world's best vanilla. I'm already thinking of delicious ways to use it. Thanks, Cousin M!

What is vanilla extract?
A strong-flavored liquid made by macerating vanilla pods in ethyl alcohol. You can make it at home, or buy my favorite online, or go to Tahiti, Mexico or Madagascar, which produce almost all of the world's vanilla extract.

How/where to store:
In the cupboard, at room temperature, indefinitely.

More facts about vanilla extract, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Vanilla extract (Recipe: ice cream chocolate chip cookies)

Lemon-lime yogurt cupcakes

Whole wheat lemon-lime yogurt cupcakes

Adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours and imafoodblog.com, this version (adapted a bit more) substitutes King Arthur's white whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, and lime for some of the lemon (you can make it all lemon). If you can't find white whole wheat, use all-purpose white flour; don't substitute regular whole wheat. Makes 36 mini cupcakes.


2/3 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
Zest and juice of 1 small lime
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour, or half and half)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp poppy seeds (optional; I omitted them)

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a mini muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with baking spray (I prefer the spray for these tiny cupcakes).

In a large bowl, with a rubber spatula, rub together the sugar and lemon and lime zests until the sugar is moist and you can smell the fruit. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, lime juice, yogurt, eggs, vanilla and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and with a rubber spatula gently and quickly stir to blend. Do not overmix. Stir in the poppy seeds, if you're using them.

Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups.

Bake for 13 minutes or until the tops are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Place the rack with the cupcakes over a plate or platter, or over a sheet of wax paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar with 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Add more lemon juice if needed to get it to a drizzling consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cupcakes.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Sea bass with vanilla cream sauce
Pears poached in vanilla
Apple spice cake
Lemon waffles
Granola cookies

Other recipes that use vanilla extract:
Vanilla ice cream, from David Lebovitz
Vegan vanilla cupcakes with mocha icing, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Vanilla zucchini muffins, from Amanda's Cookin
Whole wheat vanilla pancakes, from Cooking with Amy
Scallop salad with sweet vanilla chili dressing, from Steamy Kitchen

Bite-size whole wheat lemon-lime cupcakes.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Lydia, this is a wonderful posting and recipe. I love your "voice" and reference links. I am SO excited to discover Baldwin Extracts. As a baker I am always on the hunt for quality ingredients and I had never heard of this family. What a find! Thank you so much for sharing!!

Thank you for the shout out :) I am a huge vanilla fan too. These cupcakes look wonderful, I love it when you can see flecks of zest, yum! I made some brown sugar vanilla bean ice cream with my last Madagascar vanilla bean. I only wish I had been lucky enough to travel there to get it! :)

There are so many things to like about this recipes - whole wheat, lemon, lime, yogurt. And let's not forget the vanilla. I love the story of your family and friends' finds that they have brought to you from all over the world.

Lydia, I made vanilla extract using those beautiful vanilla beans you brought me and it is fabulous! I can't go back to the store bought artificial one anymore, never again!

huh! what an interesting post - first of all what a cool life your cousin has and secondly I think I might like to see a picture of those antique glove stretchers! The muffins look delicious and ironically I have all ingredients on hand except the yogurt which I could easily pick up on the way home...hmmm maybe some late night baking while the weather is cooler?

Oh these look good. I just picked up some vanilla while travelling too, so much more glamourous to use it when you know you didn't just pick it up in the local store, thanks for the recipe.

These little cupcakes look yummy! So easy to pop into your mouth too.

Jane, I'm sure you will love Baldwin extracts. I've been using their vanilla for five or six years, and I think it has great flavor.

Amanda, I love seeing the little flecks of lime zest in these cupcakes!

Cookin' Canuck, the moral of the story is to choose your family members well. I'm so lucky that my family loves to travel.

Patricia, I'm so glad you've been enjoying the beans. It was fun to be able to bring them to Brazil for you.

Carol, I'll work those glove stretchers into a photo one of these days!

Tamara, what part of the world were you traveling to?

Kalyn, I can personally attest that these are delicious. But, for quality control purposes, I did have to sample more than one. Many more...

0MG. I'm so making this tonight!

I have been on a muffin kick recently and will definitely try these. Thanks for posting!

My mom was also in Tahiti for the solar eclipse -- and brought me back some vanilla! Lordy, once you've had the Tahitian variety, it's hard to go back to plain ole vanilla. :)

These sound delicious, Lydia, not overly sweet. We have a family connection to vanilla extract too--my sister-in-law makes ours.

Hello Lydia. I was in southern India, just a one off work trip, it was a bit out of the blue but so so glad I took the opportunity, somewhere I had never been before. It was a fantastic experience emotionally and in the foodie sense too. I also picked up some coffee from the mountain regions, I often think of India as a tea producing county but not come across their coffee before, and it ain't half bad. :)

Lezly, I hope you enjoyed them!

Michelle, these are perfect for tea time or after dinner. So tangy from the lemon.

Julia, I love the Tahitian vanilla. Did your mom bring extract or beans? I've had both, but it's the beans I crave most.

Terry, you are a lucky guy. I'd be very happy to have a vanilla extract maker in the family, but I'm pretty lucky to have family members who bring back vanilla for me.

Tamara, I've never heard of Indian coffee, honestly. What a fascinating discovery!

Lydia and Julia: the newest "thing" in Tahitian vanilla is vanilla powder. It is a pure powder made from the scrapings of the vanilla bean pods. It gives you the convenience of extract and the flavor of fresh scraped beans without the work or added alcohol or water. A jar, plus more beans, are on the way!

Yummy! Vanilla powder? Is that quite as good as just scraping the pods yourself, though? Or do you lose a little something something?

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