Andrew was working all weekend, so I knew I needed to think of some way to keep myself busy other than cleaning my apartment for the third time this week. I decided to put a cupcake “contest” out on Facebook and Twitter. I asked for people to respond to me with their most creative cupcake ideas. If I chose theirs, I would make the cupcakes for them this weekend and post about them. I got some great responses; from Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with cinnamon/sugar cream cheese frosting to white cakes with an almond paste cream center and honey buttercream. But the winning suggestion came from Tara at Cast Iron Media (@castironmedia): Brown sugar espresso cakes with vanilla malt frosting.
I chose this because I have never made a brown sugar cake, nor had I worked with malted milk powder and that posed a challenge for me. I dropped off the finished product to Tara today – I hope she liked them! (I had a few of my best taste testers from the Farmhouse Tap & Grill give me some feedback; I heard no complaints!) In my opinion they taste a little like French toast – nothin’ wrong with that! Here is the recipe I came up with:
Brown Sugar Espresso Cupcakes
yields 24 cakes
2 Sticks unsalted butter at room temp
2 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp instant espresso powder
¼ cup boiling water
¾ cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing until incorporated. Scraping down sides as needed.
3. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl Dissolve espresso powder in water and mix with buttermilk.
4. Add flour mixture to butter sugar mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk /coffee mixture. Stir until incorporated.
5. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester is inserted and comes out clean. Allow to cool.
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup malted milk powder
½ cup whole milk
2 tsp. Vanilla
¼ tsp salt
Heath Bar candy for garnish
1. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
2. Add malted milk powder, vanilla and salt; beat until fluffy. (I will say that frosting is always “a-little-o-this a-little-o-that” for me. If the frosting is too buttery add more powdered sugar, too pasty add more milk)
3. Fill a plastic piping bag with frosting and pipe on to cupcakes in a circular motion. In a food processor, pulse heath candy into crumbs and sprinkle on top of frosting.
* Malted milk powder is a little hard to find. I got Carnation brand malt powder at Shaw’s in the baking isle. It was not by the coffee/teas.