Happy first day of Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends and readers! In honor of the holiday, I made Hanukkah cupcakes. Granted, these aren’t kosher, and I couldn’t figure out a good Hanukkah food tradition that I could transform into a cupcake (although I’m sure someone, somewhere, has made a latke cupcake). So I picked flavors that appear in Jewish baking, apples and honey, and used those as the basis for the cupcakes. If anyone has any better ideas for a Hanukkah cupcake that they’d like me to try, please let me know – we still have seven days left! I’m certainly not an expert on Jewish baking and would love suggestions.
The cake is an apple-cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart. Oddly enough, I had a hard time finding recipes for apple cupcakes, mostly because I think that people associate apples with muffins more than cupcakes (there are a billion recipes for applesauce muffins out there, let me tell you). But I was very happy with this recipe; the flavor of the apples really came through and the spices were well-balanced. I recommend grating the apples with a regular box grater, which is fast and efficient.
The frosting is honey cream-cheese, which I adapted from this Epicurious recipe. I’ve become such a fan of cream-cheese frostings lately; they marry well with a variety of cakes, and I love how the tangy flavor of the cream cheese compliments the sweetness of the sugar. If anything, I wish that I had been able to taste the honey a bit more in the frosting, but it’s difficult to incorporate honey into a frosting without it becoming too runny. I think my perfect honey frosting is still a work in progress.
Happy holidays everyone!
By Martha Stewart
Makes 2 Dozen
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely shredded apples, such as Macintosh (about 1 3/4 pounds)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; mix in apples. Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.
Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tins; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
Honey Cream-Cheese Frosting
Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup honey
Beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add honey and beat until smooth. If frosting is very soft, chill until firm enough to spread.