Yes, sometimes I use cake mixes. The recipe I use for cakes has you fold an egg white mixture into another mixture, and I find that using that recipe (or style of recipe) for cupcakes unsatisfactory- because they don't bake evenly, because they are smaller. Or maybe I just suck. Anyway, enjoy!
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
1 pkg Betty Crocker Vanilla cake mix
1 stick of butter, at room temp
1 cup water
3 vanilla bean pods
1 TB vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 325. Line 24 standard muffin cups. Cut vanilla bean pods lengthwise and scrape out seeds, reserving half of them for the frosting. Discard pods. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, beat on low for 30 sec and then on medium for 2 minutes. Using a cookie scoop, (2 TB) portion out the batter into the liners using 2 scoops in each one. Bake for 17-21 minutes, or when inserted with a toothpick it comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. Store in the fridge if not eaten right away.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, at room temp
1 TB light corn syrup
1 TB pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
the remaining vanilla beans from the cupcake recipe
Sift (or whisk) the sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on high until light yellow, about 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, drizzle in the corn syrup, vanilla, and the vanilla bean seeds. Reduce the mixer to low and add half of the sugar and mix well. Add the other half and mix well. Using the mixer on low speed, blend in the cream. Return the mixer to high and whip until light and creamy (3 minutes).
Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes with a pastry bag fitted with a big tip (your choice of shape) I like the star one for these guys.