Autumn Harvest Cupcakes

>> Thursday, September 30, 2010

Favorite from the METHOD archives:

I came across the whole Iron Cupcake phenomenon on Flickr . . . and, I must say, what an awesome group! Using my baking skills to make treats using strange and -- as with last month's choice of basil -- unusual ingredients is not only fun, but also challenging (that's the idea, I suppose).

This month's ingredient is cheese . . . so, I tried inventing a weird, but yummy combination using feta & vanilla, or cheddar (with this chocolate my husband found with hot peppers in it), etc. But when I thought about what I'd most like to eat, and brie came to mind immediately. It may be playing it safe, I'm not entirely sure.

I just like brie. Plain and simple.

Luckily, my mother-in-law was in town visiting this weekend, and she helped create the rest of the recipe. Originally we planned to use zucchini. But the grocery store was out for some odd reason, so yellow squash made a great substitute. Then, we thought pumpkin might be nice (it's autumn, after all) . . . and cider . . . the list grew and grew with all those favorite fall staples.

So here are our Autumn Harvest Cupcakes -- to be eaten with or without the dark chocolate frosting.


What you’ll need . . .

. . . for the cake part:
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/3 cups natural sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded yellow squash
. . . for the cheese part:
  • 2 rounds of brie (16 ounces in all)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (we're talking HEAPING tablespoons, here!)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or however much you’d like to add, depending on your love of chocolate)

Method . . .

. . . for the cake part:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, cider, one teaspoon baking powder, and vanilla extract. Beat well with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Fold the yellow squash into the batter.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners half full – no more, as you’ll need room for the cheese, as well as extra batter to top it with.
  7. Make the cheese mixture (instructions below).
. . . for the cheese part:
  1. Cut off the top (rind) of the cheese rounds and scoop the soft cheese out into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add the honey and mix the two together using a fork (until nice and soft).
  3. Feel free to add more honey (or use less) to taste.
  4. Add the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop a teaspoon-ish amount into each cup. I found that once I was finished, I would have liked more cheese in mine, so you may also do the first 12 with 2 teaspoon-ish amounts of cheese, and the next batch without cheese. It’s up to you!
  6. Top each cup with a bit of the remaining batter – until cup is three-quarters full.
  7. Bake for approximately 23 minutes (or between 20-25). Let cool. And eat plain (my husband and his father preferred them this way) or frost with the following . . .


What you’ll need . . .
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (or butter substitute, whichever you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup Hershey’s “special dark” cocoa (or whatever dark cocoa you like)
  • 1/2 cup milk (or soy milk -- even when I don't bake vegan, I tend to make it as non-dairy, etc., as possible)
Method . . .
  1. Cream the butter and vanilla together with an electric mixer on low to medium speed.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture until fully integrated. Slowly add the milk to the frosting until you have reached your desired consistency. (You may very well not use all the milk.)

Wow. That post is ancient! (My photography since then has improved quite a bit, too!)

I made these cupcakes (and, by the way, the recipe makes 24 of 'em) two years ago. Yes, they are rather involved. Yes, they're worth every minute. I mean, what's better than spending an entire Sunday afternoon baking? I plan to make these treats again sometime soon.

Do you experiment with "weird" ingredients in your baking? Ever put cheese in cupcakes? Chocolate in pizza sauce? Or -- here's another question -- is this recipe just way too involved for you to want to try it? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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