Cupcakes, Dessert, Recipes

Maple Cranberry Cupcakes

Fall is here with a vengeance and I love it! Especially after our trip to Vermont the other weekend, I feel like everything I make or want to make evokes the flavor of Fall. Rich soups and stews, maple, cranberries, pumpkin, squash, apples. I just can’t get enough.

I had some cranberries from last year (or maybe the year before–they last forever!) in the freezer and was craving cupcakes. First I felt a little bad about using them. I feel it isn’t usually until November that we really get to indulge in cranberries, so here I would be giving myself a taste, then have to restrain myself for another month or so. But low and behold, cranberries are ripe for the picking in New Jersey! I haven’t seen them in the stores lately, but they were available at our Bay Ridge Food Co-op shop day on Wednesday. Bagged by the pound,  there were about 6 bags left when I arrived for my shift, and they remained there the whole two hours. Amazing! I was tempted to buy them all, but knew with my schedule this week I might only be able to put up two pounds of boozy cranberries (my FAVORITE thing to can, recipe coming soon).

But I digress, it’s cupcakes we’re talking about today. Cranberry cupcakes with maple frosting. Fall in a cupcake! I’ll share the recipe, but know that this is more of a draft recipe. In the past I’ve made chocolate cupcakes filled with boozy cranberries. A semi win. This was my second attempt at cranberry cupcakes. It felt extra sinful because it was more like a (sweetened) cranberry muffin with icing. I might have them for breakfast a few mornings. I would say they were about an 8 out of 10 on my tasty cupcake scale, but I know I can do better. Much, much better.

How can you turn an 8 into a 10, you wonder? Well first, the cupcakes included walnuts, making them feel extra muffiny. I would nix those, but I’ll leave it optional in the recipe for those of you who like to feel you’re getting some healthy protein with your dessert. Secondly, my love for cranberries sprouts from their sour tart flavor (have you ever actually tried real cranberry juice??). I love sour, beer especially. My husband keeps explaining that it’s not a real beer “style” (he likes to explain A LOT of things) yet you start to find sour ales featured more and more, like at last year’s Extreme Beer Fest, whether it’s an “official” style or not. So the sour tart flavor of cranberries, I just wasn’t getting it.

I opted for an easy cupcake this time, no filling, but I think that’s exactly what could bump this cupcake up a notch. Beantown Baker made a yummy looking cranberry walnut cupcake with a layer of cranberry glaze. I like the glaze idea, but I’m also more of an element of surprise person. So I think next time I’ll fill the cupcakes with a unsweetened cranberry compote. But until then, the original recipe to play with.

Cranberry Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing (Makes about 20 cupcakes)

  • 3 c sifted flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 2 c fresh cranberries (or frozen, defrosted)
  • 1/2 c walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer, fitted with flat paddle cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each. Add vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture, alternating with milk (starting and finishing with flour mixture) and beat well after each addition.

In the meantime pulse cranberries (and walnuts if using) in food processor until coursely chopped. Stir cranberries into batter. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake 20-24 minutes, until until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Cook completely before icing.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 3-4 c powdered sugar, sifted

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add maple syrup and continue mixing for 2 minutes. Slowly add confectioners sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time until icing thickens and reaches desired consistency. If icing is still to soft, chill in refrigerator for an hour or so.

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