Merry Christmas Eve!
Can you believe it’s already here, because I’m having a tough time wrapping my brain around 2012 coming to an end. You know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun…so I must have been having A LOT of fun this year!
Christmas Eve is the anniversary of my parents’ engagement. My dad proposed at a Mexican restaurant long ago, and as far back as I can remember, they have either gone out for Mexican food or we have made lots of yummy Mexican food at home to share every year. Without fail, everyone is scurrying to finish shopping and wrapping last minute gifts, and then things wind down around midnight when we all gather to hear ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, followed by the Grinch who Stole Christmas – the original, cartoon version of course! I love these little things that are all our own. I can count on so much every year with my family it makes the holidays feel extra special.
Mrs. Kostyra’s Spice Cupcakes (From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)
These spice cupcakes are not traditional for me, nor are they something I had attempted to bake before this first time, but I’m working my way through Martha’s book and these seemed festive enough for this time of year. The original frosting suggested for this recipe is an orange glaze, but I had high hopes for a molasses frosting I had floating around in my head. Seems like everything worked out, and these little guys baked up perfectly sky high due to all the leavening! Try them out.
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
* 4 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
* 4 cups cake flour, sifted (I used regular, all purpose flour)
* 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 tsps ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp ground allspice
* 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp ground mace (I used plain old ground black pepper)
* Pinch of ground cloves
* 18-24 pecan halves, depending on how many cupcakes you end up with, for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease and flour or line a standard muffin tin with cupcake papers.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between additions until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. (Martha’s recipe says to do this 3 times, but I just sifted everything once!) Reduce mixer speed to low and alternate additions of the flour mixture and the milk until batter comes together.
Divide batter evenly amongst cupcake wells, filling 3/4 full, or slightly more. (The recipe states that it makes 24 cupcakes, but I fill my tins pretty full and only got about 18). Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, just until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool about 10 minutes in the pan before removing and allowing to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Molasses Buttercream Frosting
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
* 3 cups powdered sugar
* 1-2 Tbsps molasses
* 1-2 Tbsps milk
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add a cup of powdered sugar and mix until crumbly. Add 1 Tbsp molasses, and mix again until combined. Add in remaining 2 cups powdered sugar. Add in the additional Tbsp molasses to taste, or if you like a lighter flavor, add 1 Tbsp milk instead. Whip until smooth. If too thick, add in the other Tbsp milk. If too thin, add in a bit more powdered sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
I’m always curious as to what everyone else’s Christmas and holiday traditions are…whatever you have planned, I hope you’re surrounded by family & friends, love, lots of smiles, and lots of sweet treats!