By Laura Drucker
Somewhere, in the vast array of space between chocolate and vanilla, lies a nearly limitless assortment of cupcake flavors that never seem to really get their due. Sure, red velvet makes frequent appearances on bakery shelves, and I’ve never had trouble fulfilling a last minute craving for coconut cream, but then there are those flavors that feel like they should be mainstays, but for whatever reason have not quite made the cut.
Brown sugar is one of those flavors.
I’ve always been more prone to brown sugar than white. My chocolate chip cookies have a higher ratio of brown to white, my brown sugar banana muffins throw down on their white sugar counterparts. It’s the undervalued step-kid in our collective appreciation for sugary goodness, and it’s truly a travesty.
Brown sugar is white sugar mixed with molasses. The darker the brown, the more molasses added. What molasses brings to the table is richness and complexity. It’s what gives stouts and porters their depth of flavor, and makes dark rum as delicious in a mai tai as it is sipped over ice. It’s also what makes these cupcakes my new favorite (sorry coconut cream, it’s been nice).
What else makes these cupcakes worthy of favoritism? The frosting. Oh my goodness, the frosting. The brown sugar cupcake base can really be paired with anything, but if you want to know what heaven tastes like, top it with peanut butter brown sugar frosting. You can thank me later.
Recipe courtesy of How Sweet Eats
Brown Sugar Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. Let cool completely.
*I browned my butter instead of simply melting it, because these cupcakes just yelled out for the rich, nutty depth of brown butter. Click here for a quick step-by-step guide to browning butter. (I promise, it’s not as difficult as it sounds.)
Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting
6 ounces cold cream cheese
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Add cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth, then add peanut butter and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add in brown and powdered sugars gradually, with the mixture on low speed. Once everything has been added, turn to medium-high speed and mix for 4-5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides. If you’d like the frosting a bit sturdier, add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing like before. Frost cupcakes!
And the final step, not mentioned here: Eat in three bites or less. Because you simply won’t be able to stop yourself.