November 26, 2012

Maple Cornmeal Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting

Sorry for the radio silence these past two weeks. I had some personal stuff going on, and then my computer died, and then my old computer that I kept just for such an eventuality died, and then there was family stuff and hurricane stuff and nor'easter stuff, and the internets just kind of got pushed to the backburner. If it makes you feel any better, I'm also calling this year's NaNoWriMo a fail. I only got about 10k in before all the drama happened. So that got shoved to the backburner as well, and you know how much I love NaNo. It's not that I don't enjoy writing by hand, but I've had problems with my wrist since I was a kid, and I strain it enough typing 1667 words a day. Writing out 40k words would not have been fun.

November in general has just been a month of fail. I'm resigned to that fact. So no more dwelling. December is almost here, and I spent small business Saturday in one of my most favoritest places in the entire universe: Candyland Crafts. What is Candyland you ask? It's a candy making and cake decorating specialty store. They have a room full of nothing but chocolate molds. The mold room. It's awesome. And they have tons of specialty sprinkles and royal icing decorations that they make themselves and candy melts in every color of the rainbow that taste better and melt smoother than the Wilton ones. I'm convinced Candyland is magic. I bought some really cute stuff to make Christmas presents with, so yay for Candyland!
These cupcakes were for Thanksgiving, not Christmas, though. And were a lot better than I had thought they would be. I found a recipe for maple cornmeal cupcakes in the Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes, and tweaked it a bit to suit my needs (no maple syrup but 2 teaspoons maple flavoring? Homie don't play that) (I'm sorry. I will never say that again.) (Maybe). My family yells at me when I do that. "You should follow the recipe at least once. It could be really good the way it is," my mother told me.

"Uh-huh," I said. "Try one."

"Oh my god," she said, mouth full. "These are really good."

"Now what was that you were saying about following the recipe?"

"Forget everything I said."

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Or cupcakes, as it were. Because these suckers were really, really good. The texture of the cornmeal was a little odd to taste in a cupcake, but the flavor more than made up for it. The cornmeal gave it a sort of earthy butteriness (is that a thing? it is now) which paired really well with the maple flavor. It's kind of like breakfast. Only not. Because it's a cupcake.
To be fancy, I topped them off with a whipped maple browned butter frosting. It was a bit sweeter than I usually like my frostings (and I put too much on the cupcakes, heh), but the smoky, nutty flavor of the browned butter went really well with the earthier flavors of the cornmeal and maple. And I think it was the first time my cousins had had browned butter anything, so I looked like a total gourmet. Let's face it: browned butter tastes fancy. And smells magnificent. Any perfume makers out there, you need to make a maple and browned butter perfume. Candle makers, you have the same task. I will buy in bulk if you can manage it.
While you're on that, can anybody recommend a good laptop? Asking for a friend....

Maple Cornmeal Cupcakes {Printable Version}
Yield: 12 cupcakes

1½ cups flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. maple flavoring extract
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. maple syrup
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon (if using), and salt. Set aside. In a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed, gradually add in the sugar, and
continue to beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs, oil, and extracts one at a time, beating well
after each addition.

In a liquid measuring cup, or a small bowl, mix together the milk and maple syrup. On low speed, add
the flour mixture to the butter, alternating with the milk mixture. Continue to beat until well combined,
scraping down the sides as necessary. Be careful not to overmix.

Line a standard muffin tin with 12 liners, and fill about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake 20-25
minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes

Maple Browned Butter Frosting {Printable Version}

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
¾ tsp. maple flavoring

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Continue to heat, whisking constantly, until the
butter turns a light, golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Add the sugar and maple flavoring to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix together on the lowest speed.
Slowly stream in the browned butter and continue to mix until the mixture looks like small peas. Add in
the whipping cream, gradually increase the mixer speed to high, and whip until fluffy.

Recipe by Kim