Baked Explorations: Maple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake army

Holy smokes these are good. And I’m not just saying that as someone who is powerless in the face of maple syrup. They are objectively, insanely, ridiculously good. How do I know? I taste-tested them on a focus group. Ok, so it was people at work who are so nice that they’ll say flattering things and devour just about any free food left out on flat surfaces. But I think they were sincere in their praise.

At first I wasn’t sure that the maple flavor was strong enough but I think that was because as I was making them the syrup kept ”accidently” falling out of the bottle onto my finger and my taste buds had become temporarily immune to the flavor. But when I had my second one, after dinner, the maple was all there and then some.

And let me just tell you that the toasted, chopped walnuts that go into the batter are nothing less than genius.

I know that half of America started Weight Watchers today but when the people you know and love are ready for dessert again, put this at the top of the list.

Maple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
From Baked Explorations
Makes 24 cupcakes
Printable version

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
2 cups pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B but Grade A is fine)
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

For the frosting:
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until ribbonlike. Turn the mixer to low and stream in the maple syrup. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is nearly uniform in color, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg yolks and egg, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stream in the milk. Stop the mixer, add the rest of the flour, then turn the mixer on until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the walnuts.

Fill the prepared cupcake pan about 3/4 full. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Note: these cupcakes take longer to bake than traditional cupcakes due to the maple syrup.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for 15 minutes in the cupcake pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add the sugar and the maple syrup and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the frosting or it will lose structure. (At this point you can tightly cover the frosting and refrigerate for a day. Let it soften at room temperature before using.)

You can frost with a pastry bag or your preferred method. Refrigerate any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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