Thursday, December 30, 2010

German Spekulatius Cupcakes

All mine! My preciousssssssss

Every year my mom and I treat ourselves to an order of fresh lebkuchen imported from Germany. Pricey? Hell yes. But oh so worth it to hang on to a little of our German heritage and celebrate Christmas in style. I always make sure my selection includes a box of my favorites: Spekulatius, a flat, crisp spiced cookie baked with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and white pepper. The bottom is lined with slivered almonds for a hint of flavor and some added crunch. Not surprisingly, there are popular Dutch and Belgian versions that go by the names Speculaas and Speculoos. You can even get them here in the States, sometimes advertised as windmill cookies due to their design.

A few months back I won a jar of a product new to the US that incorporates all of the delicious elements of my beloved Spekulatius in a spreadable concoction similar to Nutella. It's called Tamarin Speculoos Spread and features a slightly freaky-looking monkey on the jar. No idea what that has to do with the product itself but I'm almost positive that no monkeys were harmed in the making of it. While I'm not sure how popular this will prove to be on our side of the Atlantic I have hope for it since I remember the dark days of my youth when no one had heard of Nutella and it was difficult to find. And now look at how popular it's become. The Tamarin spread is a nice alternative to peanut butter and I'll admit that I've taken to eating it straight from the jar with a spoon. The best way to describe it is as if they took a spiced cookie, mashed it up, and waved a magic wand to turn it into a paste. I suspect one of the Keebler elves defected and is now working at the Tamarin manufacturing plant.

While brainstorming cupcake ideas for my family this Christmas my mind immediately went to Spekulatius and the gears started churning as to how I could turn that into a cupcake. Inspired by this cupcake I decided to come up with my own spice blend to be baked into the cake, fill each cupcake with some of the Tamarin spread, and top the cupcakes with an almond browned butter frosting for a triple dose of Spekulatius flavor.

My only complaint about the recipe I chose from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes is that it only produced nine cupcakes. I have no idea how that happened since other than omitting the raisins and adding in my spice blend I made no other changes to the recipe that promised to yield 12. Next time I'll probably double the recipe to make a proper amount. The cupcakes are delicious and a nice alternative to the cookie even if they don't taste exactly like the original. The spices are there, the filling is surprising and rich, and the hint of almond in the frosting rounds it out nicely. This is probably one I'll incorporate into our holiday traditions from now on.

Spekulatius Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp fancy molasses
1 egg
2 tsp candied orange peel, finely chopped
2/3 cup buttermilk
Tamarin Speculoos Spread for filling

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with 9 paper liners.
2) In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, cardamom, and salt.
3) In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add molasses and egg, beating well. Stir in the orange peel. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until smooth.
4) Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.
5) Once cool, using the cone method fill each cupcake with a small amount of Tamarin spread, approximately one teaspoon per cupcake.

Browned Butter Frosting
Recipe adapted from The Sister's Cafe

1/3 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2+ tablespoons heavy cream

1) Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and watching closely, until butter just starts to turn golden (4 to 6 minutes). Butter will get foamy and bubble and you will see black flecks start to form toward the end. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature (this will take a while).
2) Beat butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until combined. Add almond and gradually add cream until frosting reaches the desired consistency. Pipe generously onto cooled cupcakes.



Mim Smith Faro said...

These look delicious! My son is a nutella freak but I think my hub would be the one to enjoy this spread.

Bree said...

As usual, these look great!

Just saw this & thought of you, I'm sure you could come up with something great!