Archive | November, 2012

Hard Cider Cupcakes

12 Nov

Like many people, autumn is probably my most favorite time of year. The trees come alive in a blaze of firey colors, the air takes on a little nip that causes us to wrap ourselves up in a favorite old sweater. As the days gradually shorten, we start to prepare our homes for nesting in during the long months of winter.

This is the time of year we trade our zucchini and yellow squash for butternut and pumpkin, blueberries for cranberries, and peaches and plums for pears and apples. It is the time of year we turn from garden fresh salads and smoke-infused grilling to simmering soups and ginger-spiced baking.

Autumn is also the beginning of the season of traditions – family traditions, holiday traditions, this is the time of year we pull out old costumes, the good china, or handed-down family recipes to bring those traditions back to life and keep them alive.

When my daughter, Sydney, was little, one of our favorites fall traditions was to head about 25 miles outside of town to her favorite Linvilla Orchards. This place is a child’s dream with hayrides, a corn maze, face painting, and a menagerie of docile deer and goats and ponies to pet and feed. After a treat of warm apple cider doughnuts or a gooey caramel apple, we’d get down to the very important task of picking out that perfect pumpkin for the Halloween Jack-O-Lantern. But no trip was complete without stopping at the refrigerated case to pick up a gallon of icy cold fresh pressed apple cider.

Over the years, trips to the orchard were replaced by soccer tournaments, part-time jobs, college visits and now a true career. But recently, we were lucky to have a day off together. We did a little mother-daughter shopping, some lunch, and decided to run out to Linvilla to pick up some fresh apples. We looked at the pumpkins and mums, had an apple cider doughnut or two and chose our Winesaps and Cortlands to take with us. But this time, we didn’t pick up any apple cider from the case. Because she’s an adult now, and that means new traditions:

There weren’t a lot of recipes for hard apple cider cupcakes. This one, adapted from Cupcakes for Dinner, looked promising. While everyone loved the Brown Sugar Buttercream frosting, reviews were mixed on the actual cupcakes themselves. Some thought them a little bland, others liked they way they offset the frosting. So give them a try, I’d say there’s a lot of room for adding your own personal touch. I used Crispin’s Hard Apple Cider, but there are manyvarieties to choose from.

Hard Apple Cider Cupcakes
Makes 12 – 16 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups hard apple cider
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes, then add egg and vanilla
Mix in apple cider – mixture will look curdled.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, and create a well in the center.


Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
Fill prepared cupcake tins 3/4 full.
Bake for 16 minutes.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream

1/2 cup butter
1/2 brown sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon hard cider
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk

Cream butter and brown sugar together
Slowly add powdered sugar, cider, vanilla, milk and cinnamon

Frost as desired.

Dark and Stormy Cupcakes

5 Nov

There’s something about extreme weather that makes us almost instinctively nestle into our homes, doing what we can to make them comfortable and comforting for our loved ones. For me, this often involves a flurry of cleaning followed by a marathon of over-cooking – usually some kind of potato based comfort food – followed by lots of baking.

This past storm was no different. And so while I sat on that first dark and stormy night, listening to Sandy’s howling wind and torrential rain against the windows, my thoughts turned to baking-specifically cupcake baking and particularly Dark and Stormy cupcake baking.

My Aunt Anne introduced me to my first Dark and Stormy cocktail during one of our “excellent adventures” to watch our beloved Boston Red Sox. We make these trips, along with my Uncle Hillary and sister Laura, all across North America, once or twice a year to cheer on the Red Sox or the New England Patriots, depending on the season. The only real pre-requisite for these adventures is that there must be an official trip cocktail. And so it was that I had my first Dark and Stormy.

Dark and Stormy’s are not for the faint of heart. The 151 proof Gosling’s Black Seal dark rum, combined with the spicy ginger-beer, makes for an intense cocktail that truly warms the body and soul. The perfect cocktail to take off that wintry chill.

 These Dark and Stormy cupcakes stay true to their namesake cocktail. The gingery dark batter baked with the rum enhanced light batter create a bold, moist, flavorful cupcake, topped with rum-spiked cream cheese frosting. A few extra steps, but definitely worth the effort…. the next time you’re stuck in the house on a dark and stormy night.

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Dark And Stormy Cupcakes
(adapted from cupcakes Take the Cake)

Dark Ginger Cake Batter

1 rounded tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg

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In a large bowl, mix the molasses, sugar and oil. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Microwave the water to just boiling. Stir in the baking soda. Add to wet ingredients. Stir in grated ginger. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add egg and mix until combined. Batter will be thick and bubbly.

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Light Rum Batter

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 whole egg, 1 yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3/8 dark rum
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon rind, and rum, beating well after each. Batter will look slightly curdled. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet, alternating with the whipping cream, starting and finishing with the dry ingredients.

Fill paper lined muffin tins half full of the dark batter. Top each with a large dollop of the light batter.

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Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Rum Syrup

Combine 4 tablespoons of butter, 3/8 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of dark rum in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugar completely dissolves.
Cool for approx. 10 minutes.

Cool cupcakes for approx. 15 minutes. Poke holes in the cupcakes with toothpick, then gently ladle spoonfuls of the syrup over the cupcakes.

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Dark Rum Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
Powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
dark rum

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of dark rum. Continue to add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired consistency. Add dark rum to taste. Sprinkle with minced candied ginger, if desired.

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