Hi Helen. I'm a bit like you - always after that 'extra special' vanilla cupcake.Have tried dozens but always come back to the old favourite basic one, which is to weigh eggs in shells [either three or four, depending on how many you want to do] and then use the same weight in soft butter, caster sugar, s.r. flour, teaspoon of baking powder, teaspoon vanilla essence [or beans scraped from a vanilla pod], and a splash of milk.
Beat butter until soft, then add caster sugar and mix all together for at least 7 minutes [in stand mixer] or until pale and fluffy with hand mixer, add vanilla, then eggs one at a time along with teaspoon of flour with each egg to prevent curdling. Fold in rest of flour and stir in milk until you're happy with consistency.
Spoon [or use ice cream scoop] into prepared muffin tins [I usually get about 18-20 from a 4-egg mixture] and bake for about 15-20 minutes in pre-heated oven [180c].
There are loads more recipes out there, but I always come back to this variation as it's simpler, and I never have any complaints. xx