I looked up several different techniques but ultimately went with a simple and incredibly easy one of my own.
Bake Temp: 350
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 16-18 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk
Perfect Buttercream Frosting
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup room temp butter
2 tbls vanilla
In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. To get the seeds out, slice through one layer of the bean lengthwise. Using the flat side of a knife, scrap the inside of the bean. The blackish goop is the seeds all joined together.
Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour*, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs (please use room temperature eggs! You can warm them up by putting the eggs in a bowl with warm, but not hot, water for about 5 minutes or until the shell is warm to the touch), sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
Bake for 16 minutes and then test to see if they are done. To test for doneness, gently tap the center of each cupcake with you finger. If it is slightly mushy, or if pieces stick to your finger, then it is not done. If you take it out too soon, the centers will collapse. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rac.
*Because these are such nice cupcakes, I highly recommend going the distance and getting cake flour, as well as making sure you have room-temp supplies.
For the Frosting - I recommend you make this as they bake.
Mix butter and sugar until well combined. There's nothing wrong with mixing this for an extended period of time. Add in vanilla and dye. If too thick, add one teaspoon of milk at a time, if too thin, add more sugar.
For this texture, the method is very simple. Using a simple star tip and starting at the middle of the cupcake, squeeze heavily initially, then release, while pushing down slightly and pull up. Work out in a spiral formation.