Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pseudo Churro Cupcakes

I've been feeling uninspired when it comes to baking now that I and my waistline are trying to recover from the holidays. But with a book club meeting last Monday I knew I had to come up with something. The book we were discussing, The Night Circus, is full of beautiful, evocative language describing the magical circus that mysteriously appears and only opens its doors at dusk, bringing with it exotic sights, sounds, and smells that waft through the night air. One of the treats they serve is described as layers of pastry with cinnamon and sugar (described much better than I just did, of course), which got me thinking that I should try to whip up something with those flavors. But between coping with a puppy in the house and the sugar detox I'm currently going through I couldn't convince myself to go all out with these cupcakes. I considered adding a filling, dulce de leche, perhaps, or cinnamon strudel, but instead opted to keep it simple. I settled on cinnamon maple cake studded with some of King Arthur Flour's tiny cinnamon chips, cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and a little surprise on top in the form of fried tortilla strips sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Churros came up almost right away when I was searching for cinnamon sugar dessert ideas and one quick Google search later I found I wasn't the first person to want to incorporate that idea into a cupcake. Not so sure I accomplished that as, other than having the same flavors, these don't really qualify as churro-like. I toyed with the idea of actually making mini churros as toppers but wrote it off as too time consuming. Why did no one tell me a puppy would take up so much of my time and energy?! I kid, I kid. Instead I took the idea for something in the same vein but much easier from The Curvy Carrot. It still involved frying, which is something I hate to do, but I wanted to try something to step it up. In fact, this brings the total number of times I have fried food at home to three. Yes, I am revoking my Southerner membership card as we speak.

While these cupcakes didn't knock anyone's socks off, especially those accustomed to my usual over-the-top fare, everyone went home happy. I may have previously set the bar too high for myself. Still, this is a nice, simple fallback for those times when you're feeling too lazy to tackle a fancy cupcake recipe. You really can't screw anything up with this recipe and the toppers made for a fun, crunchy treat.

Pseudo Churro Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup King Arthur Flour cinnamon chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
2) In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs until smooth. Whisk in maple extract. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour and two of milk, beating just until combined. Fold in cinnamon chips.
4) Scoop batter into prepared pan. Baked 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a bowl using an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat together cream cheese, butter, and salt until creamy. With mixer on low speed, beat in confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix until combined, then increase speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Fried Tortilla Topping
Recipe from The Curvy Carrot

One 8-inch flour tortilla, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips about 2"-3" long
Oil, for frying (I used canola)
Mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar, mixed to your liking of desired sweetness

1) In a deep frying pan, heat the oil (about 3/4-inch in depth) on medium heat until very hot.***I tested this by putting in a small piece of tortilla to make sure it would fry.
2) Fry only a few of the tortilla strips at a time, turning them with tongs until lightly browned on both sides (about 5-10 seconds on each side).
3) Place the strips on paper towel, and, while they are still warm, sprinkle both sides generously with the cinnamon-sugar combination.
4) Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.


qwadro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mim Smith Faro said...

OMG! These look divine. I have never fried anything in my life, but I just might have to try this. These cupcakes sound totally delicious to me and my 11yo son just walked by and said, "yum... those look good."

Maybe he and I will have to make a baking date to make these. Thanks for your continued sharing of delicious treats.

PS- how did I miss that you now have a puppy!? Good luck with training :)

Baye said...

This is keeping it simple? My book club gets store-bought cookies still in the box. I've been telling them about your blog since I steal so many book ideas from you. Now I'm NOT telling them how to get here.

Good thing you are not close by. They'd all be leaving me to join your group!

C&C Cakery said...

I really like your idea of topping it with a fried tortilla rather than a whole churro. I tried to make churros, and they're seriously more trouble than they're worth. Plus, if they sit for long, they turn into a cold, greasy, soft and chewy mess. I'm sure those little tortilla strips keep their crunch for a lot longer! Thanks for sharing :)