I’ve been been making wonderful cider cupcakes from Coconut & Lime for a couple of falls now. They’re pretty easy and wonderful and a reasonable substitution for cider donuts, which I really oughtn’t buy every time I leave the house. Probably.
I’ve adapted the recipe to make it a bit heartier and healthier, adding in (you guessed it) butternut squash, reducing the sugar and butter, and switching whole wheat pastry flour for white. I don’t do this for every dessert I make, but I did for this because I doubled the recipe and baked the rest as mini-muffins to have around for snacks. Plus I don’t think that cupcakes with sweet frostings need to be terribly sweet themselves.
As for the question of what is in fact on top of these, I’ve had the problem of not liking the idea of C&L’s icing. For me, cupcakes are supposed to be fluffy and frosted and not things with delicate, subtle little dabs of things. On the other hand, I’m not going to use shortening in homemade frosting, and I’m not likely to buy pre-made Toxic Sweet Stuff of Death to feed to my family. I’ve experimented with cream cheese, white chocolate ganache, and with white chocolate-cream cheese. All good, but nothing’s been just right.
Then this fall, to the rescue came Eating Well magazine with its featured apple recipes, and this lovely idea for a caramel marshmallow frosting. Perfect – fluffy and sweet and light enough to be a nice balance for the butter-y cake beneath. We’re bringing these to a potluck tonight, which is an awesome opportunity to act like a generous martyr as I let everyone else eat the cupcakes, never admitting that I’ve eaten a flock of semi-burnt mini muffins and the bowl of leftover frosting. Yup.
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 3/4 stick (6 T.) butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. pumpkin or butternut squash puree
- 1 c. apple cider (Pasteurized? Unpasteurized? Here’s a take on the issue.)
- 1 2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. salt
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease cupcake pan or line with parchment liners and set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then squash, then cider.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Mix dry ingredients into wet, stirring just until well blended and only small lumps remain.
- Fill cupcake wells 2/3 full and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until firm and an inserted toothpick emerges clean. Let cool on a rack while you make the frosting.
- 1 c. light brown sugar (I used fair trade raw sugar)
- 1/4 c. water
- 4 teaspoons dried egg whites (equivalent to 2 egg whites), reconstituted by stirring powder into directed amount of water until most lumps are gone
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
- Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler (I put one saucepan on top of another since I don’t have a double boiler).
- Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick and stands in peaks, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool.
- Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine.
- Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. I used a tablespoon to place and swirl a large dollop and am pretty happy with those results. Garnish with sprinkle of cinnamon if you like. (And I imagine you could avoid having those kind of big blobs I got of it if you shook a bit out into a small bowl and rubbed it between your fingers to apply. But who cares, right? Homemade cinnamon-marshmallow frosting, for goodness sake. What do they want from me? Jeez.)