Valentine Sprinkle Cupcakes

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It’s almost Valentine’s Day! I know there are a lot of differing attitudes surrounding this holiday, but really, I don’t care…I LOVE IT.

While we should share our love on the daily, it’s not a bad idea to spread a little extra love and appreciation on this day, Cupid’s Birthday (probably). Plus, I get to bust out all the pink and red and glitter and SPRINKLES! These mini cupcakes are an unapologetic celebration of all things sweet and saccharine that is Valentine’s Day. So, share a cupcake, give a Valentine, make a date with your love or your very best pals. Basically, just let your favorites know their your fave in the form of butter and sugar and sprinkles.

PS, can we talk about how Funfetti is NOT Rainbow Party Chip? Personally, I prefer the latter but don’t really know what those little rainbow chips are, cause they are definitely not sprinkles. Have you made this distinction? If so, discuss.

Sprinkle Cupcakes

Adapted from this recipe.

Makes about 48 mini cupcakes.

1 stick (4 ounces) softened, unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup milk

5 tablespoons sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 2 mini muffin tins with paper liners.

In the bowl of a mixer (or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter until creamy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until the mixture resembles a crumble topping. Add in the eggs and beat for 2 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Gradually add in the milk and vanilla until just combined. Fold in the sprinkles. Using a small cookie scoop or spoons, fill each mini cupcake cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven, one pan at a time, for about 15 minutes or until the cupcake tops spring back to the touch. Cool on a rack completely before frosting.

Whipped Buttercream

Adapted from this recipe.

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup softened, unsalted butter

sprinkles for decoration

In a saucepan whisk together the sugar and flour, whisk in the milk until smooth, add the salt. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, beat the butter in a mixer (or using a hand mixer and mixing bowl) until creamy. Add the cooled flour mixture and vanilla. Beat until a smooth frosting forms (the mixture may look greasy or curdled at some point, just keep whipping it!). Spread or pipe onto baked and cooled cupcakes and decorate with additional sprinkles.

Mini Hard Cider Cupcakes

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Guys, I’ve been wanting to make these cupcakes for a while now…ever since I sent Sean to the liquor store to buy some hard cider for a braised pork thing I was doing. But, he couldn’t find my favorite (Crispin) cider, so he bought a 6-pack of a different kind and it ended up being spiced…which, of course, wasn’t what I had in mind, but total A for effort!

So, in order to waste-not, I came up with this hard cider cupcake idea and oh, man…it ended up being a happy accident. I was so surprised by how much the hard cider flavor really comes through in these minis and in the frosting. There aren’t any actual apples in this recipe, but the apple flavor from the cider really shines, plus it lends a pleasant booziness.

These cupcakes are made in my favorite way for any cake or cupcake, by beating the butter with the flour mixture…instead of beating the butter and sugar until fluffy and then gently folding in the flour at the end. I love this method because it always produces a cake with a fine, almost dense crumb, but manages to remain light and spongey, yet tender. The thing is, the butter fat coats the flour which kind of waterproofs the gluten, so when you add the liquid the water doesn’t activate the glutens and prevents them from becoming gummy and chewy. BOOM!

So if you have some hard cider waning away in your fridge, looking for some way to be consumed, or even if you’re just a fan of booze-laced treats, these tender little dudes are just the thing.

Mini Hard Cider Cupcakes with Cider Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 48 miniature cupcakes.

Adapted from Take a Megabite

I used Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider in this recipe, since Sean couldn’t find the cider I usually buy…for drinkin’. It turned out to be perfect for these cupcakes. You can use whatever hard cider you want. 

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspooon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup hard apple cider

Preheat your oven to 350˚F and line two mini muffin tins with 48 cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a mixer or using a hand mixer and mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add it to the butter and beat until the mixture is combined and resembles a crumble topping. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping after each, once incorporated continue to beat for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla, followed by the hard cider and beat until just combined. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into each muffin liner, I like to use a mini cookie scoop with a levered handle (also known as a disher). Bake 1 pan at a time in the center of the oven for 14-16 minutes or until the tops are dry and spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a rack while you make the frosting. Repeat with remaining pan.

Cider Cream Cheese Frosting

1, 8 ounce, brick cream cheese, softened

1 lb. (16 ounces) powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons hard cider

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and the hard cider and mix to combine. Pipe or spread onto completely cooled cupcakes.

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

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I’ve had the idea for these donuts rolling around in my brain for days, ya’ll. And I JUST got to making them yesterday and jeeeeez…what took me so long?! These donuts are the baked variety making them a touch less indulgent than their fried brothers, but also a little easier to execute. BONUS. They are soft and spiced and laced with delicious brown butter and the subtle-sweet maltiness of malted milk powder.

I’ve smashed pumpkin with brown butter and malt before (with these amazeballs cookies) and let me tell you, it’s a winning combination. Brown butter goes into the batter AND gets brushed onto theses babies…which makes the perfect glue for a glittering of spiced sugar. And, not to get all braggy on you, but that picture of those butter drenched donuts above makes my heart melt…donut swoon! So, basically, I urge you to make these and honor pumpkin season with donuts. It’s only the logical thing to do.

 

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

Adapted from Take A Megabite

Makes 4-5 dozen minis

These donuts can be baked in a standard size donut pan as well, or even a mini muffin tin. When shopping for the malt powder, I usually find it near the hot cocoa mixes or near the powdered and evaporated milk. I find it easier to brown the butter for the donuts seperately from the butter for the coating. Don’t bother to use a different skillet, just brown the butter for coating in the same skillet while the donuts bake.

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons malted milk powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

For the Spiced Sugar + Brown Butter Coating:

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

Preheat the oven to 325˚F and spray a mini donut pan lightly with cooking spray.

Brown the butter for the donuts in a skillet over medium heat until the butter separates and the solids become a deep, toffee brown and smell nutty and fragrant. Pour the browned butter into a ramekin and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, malt powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Whisk to blend. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the brown butter, fold until just combined. Either spoon or pipe the batter about halfway up the donut pan molds and bake in the center of the oven for 6-7 minutes. Donuts are done when the tops are dry and spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a rack slightly before turning out. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Brown the butter for coating while the donuts bake.

In a wide dish whisk together the sugar and spices for the coating, brush the baked donuts with browned butter and roll in the spiced sugar to coat completely.