Cupcakes with a Secret Ingredient — Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract

Good things come to those who wait, and sometimes to those who procrastinate. I finally got around to ordering some McCormick Vanilla Butter & Nut Extract and wish I’d done it sooner.


It definitely lived up to my expectations, which had been set pretty high thanks to glowing reviews from people who said it was the key ingredient in their family’s favorite pound cake or that they’d used it as a substitute for vanilla in chocolate chip cookies. So far, I’ve used it in both pound cake and chocolate chip cookies, but my favorite use for it was in yellow cupcakes. The vanilla, butter & nut extract added an interesting  and rather bold blend of butter, vanilla and nuts. An unexpected benefit was that this extract is deep yellow, so it added a nice yellow hue to an otherwise sour cream colored cupcake. UPDATE:  Judy mentioned she liked the star on top of the cupcake.  If you want to know which tip, it’s the closed star tip from the Ateco #786 Large Tube Set, 12 pcs..

Vanilla Cupcake

These cupcakes got rave reviews from all tasters and I can’t wait to make them for a bake sale! The recipe below makes 12.  I try to keep vanilla cupcake batch sizes small because I usually accompany them with a batch of good chocolate cupcakes.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Cupcakes with a Secret Ingredient -- Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cupcakes made with McCormick Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • 2 large eggs
  • 114 grams cake flour (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 114 grams ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, cool room temperature (Land o' Lakes
  • 196 grams (1 cup) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 230 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, I used Land o'Lakes
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or as needed (I used Sonoma Syrup Vanilla Bean Crush)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners.
  2. Separate the eggs. Put the whites in a mixing bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. Bring them to room temperature. You may want to do this ahead of time.
  3. Sift the cake flour and then stir in the baking powder and salt and set aside.
  4. With a clean mixer, whip the egg whites to soft peaks and set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, using the same mixer you used to beat the whites, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat for until fluffy and light, scraping sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, using lowest speed of mixer. Beat in the extract.
  6. With a big mixing spoon or heavy duty scraper, add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, stirring until mixed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat with the electric mixer for about 1 minute or until smooth. With the spoon or scraper, fold the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cakes appear set. These cakes do not brown very much – just a tiny bit around the rim. The tops also look pretty wet even when the cupcakes are done, so bake just until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Let the cakes cool completely. While warm, they may seem a little flimsy, but they will firm up a bit as they cool.
  9. To make the frosting, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Add the cream and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

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  1. Stacye Smith says

    Can you get this flavoring in the store or do you have to special order it?
    They look really good!!

  2. says

    Stacye, I special ordered it from Amazon.

    Cheryl, yes. I’m actually testing it out in a different chocolate chip recipe today just to see if I like it better in thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies or thicker, chewier cookies.

  3. C L says

    Thank you for posting this! It sounds like it would be a delicious upgrade for my Cold Oven Pound Cake. Would it be OK to use in a 5 Flavor pound cake too, I wonder? 🙂 Looking forward to your post about your cookie testing. 🙂

  4. says

    I’m sure it would be great in a five flavor pound cake! However, I’d go for one of the older Butternut Pound Cake recipes on the web. There are quite a few variations. I made the one on McCormick’s website last night, but thought it was too sweet.

  5. says

    Judy, it’s the closed star tip #847 from Ateco. I bought it as part of a set, so I went ahead and added a link to the set (it’s right above the second picture) for anyone interested. The tips in that set are jumbo size, so they’re perfect for topping cupcakes. The set is very reasonably priced, so I recommend you just buy the whole set rather than the one tip.

  6. says

    I use the butter and nut flavoring all the time in my pound cake, but have never thought to put it in my yellow cake. I will try these! 🙂

  7. Karen says

    Is it an oops in the recipe, Anna? You have the flour and the eggs listed 2 separate times.
    These cupcakes look so very nice and moist. Yummy.

  8. says

    Karen, I’m having the weirdest problem with my recipe formatting software and am in the process of fixing that.

    Update: Fixed!

  9. shirley says

    Shopping at Wegmans this morning I took a minute to look at seasonings, extracts etc… and YES they have it so I bought a bottle. Hope to try something soon; thanks for posting re it. Granted I had to look at ALL the new seasonings and came home with a couple of others. Savory ones. I also noticed that many of the ground spices/herbs are now ‘roasted’ or ‘toasted’- cumin and about 5 or 6 others. Didn’t buy … will have to check my stash to see what is old and can be discarded.

  10. says

    Shirley, that’s good news! Maybe it really is more of an East Coast thing. I recommend using it in yellow cake or cupcakes. It’s good in chocolate chip cookies, too. It’s also REALLY good in sugar cookies.

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