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Maple Cupcakes

I know we’re past Halloween, but I’m not quite ready to dive into Thanksgiving food. Rest assured, I will be soon, but I need just one more minute to savor non-holiday food before we get to the pies and sides and then everything that Christmas requires. All of those things are wonderful, but let’s a moment for Maple Cupcakes first. I promise they deserve a second in the spotlight.

Maple Cupcakes

To me, Maple Cupcakes are the ideal treat to make the first weekend in November. Their hint of spice and natural colors make them seasonally appropriate, but they’re not associated with any holiday tradition I can think of. They’re just delicious—nothing more, nothing less.

Maple Cupcakes

Maple Cupcakes are a take on my reader favorite Maple Layer Cake. Like that dessert, they have maple syrup in a minimum of three elements; four, if you’re feeling kicky. Truly, these are a maple lover’s dream.

(It’s me. Hi. I’m the maple lover. It’s me.)

Maple Cupcakes

The cupcakes themselves are a lightly modified spin on my go-to vanilla recipe. They’re simple to make and the results are spectacular—soft and springy with the tiniest hint of spice to accent the maple. They bake up golden-edged and beautiful, with even surfaces perfect for brushing with more maple syrup and piling high with maple frosting. I like to finish them with coarse sugar, but an extra dab of maple syrup before serving is a nice touch, too.

In short, these are all maple all the time—it’s an approach I can get behind.

Maple Cupcakes
Maple Cupcakes
makes 14-16 cupcakes

Cupcake Batter:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons heavy cream

For Assembly:
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
sparkling or coarse sugar (optional)

Make the cupcake batter. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by maple syrup. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Fill liners 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Beat in maple syrup, followed by heavy cream.

To assemble, use a pastry brush to brush the top of each cooled cupcake with maple syrup. Let soak in for 1-2 minutes, just so there is no syrup standing on the surface of the cupcakes. Spread or pipe maple frosting on cooled cupcakes. Finish with coarse sugar. Add a few drops of maple syrup immediately before serving, if desired.

Leftover cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.