Monday, October 11, 2010

Thankful - cupcake edition

On Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend we got to visit with D.'s side of the family (or most of them!) which was a treat, because we aren't often all together much any more. The weather was beautiful Sunday - a rare Canadian Thanksgiving treat of warm sun and soft breeze. I was asked to bring dessert to the potluck table and wanted to bring something suitably festive. I immediately thought of cupcakes for a couple of reasons.

A few years ago I got this book for my birthday. Cupcakes are a pretty big trend right now, so let me just point out that the publishing imprint of this title is 2006. Cupcake love has existed around our house for many years, likely a consequence of having young children and a mummy who has a thing for serving foods in small, contained, individual portion sizes. You should see my ramekin collection. But that's a story for another day. For Thanksgiving I decided to make Carrot & Cranberry Cupcakes with Cinnamon and Spice Frosting.

Thanksgiving Carrot and Cranberry Cupcakes

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat oil and both sugars until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Fold in carrots, walnuts (if using) and cranberries.

Fill cupcake papers about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Cinnamon and Spice Frosting

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add vanilla and spices and continue beating until frosting is good for spreading.

As yummy as these cupcakes sounded, I knew I also had to bring something chocolaty to the table, since my family thrives on a little bit of chocolate apres dinner. So I whipped up a batch of homemade ONE bite brownies. I started making these two years ago when friends gifted us a great little cookbook called Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal. The only special equipment you need to pull these off is a mini-muffin pan. I have a silicone one by KitchenAid.

One Bite Brownies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp water
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar until well combined. Add egg, egg whites, vanilla and coffee and stir until well blended and smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and stir by hand just until combined. Spoon the batter into mini muffin cups that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until puffed but soft to the touch. Do not over bake! Cool in pan on wire rack.

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