One of the smartest decisions I made at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival was to ask the Mission Minis cupcake staff if they would care to share a recipe with me and my readers. I was expecting the answer to be no. Given how delicious their cupakes were I figured that perhaps they were made from some top secret, closely guarded recipes. I imagined a kitchen in which each baker prepares only part of recipe so that no one knows the entire process. Far fetched, of course, but the cupcakes were really that good. I’m also a pretty picky cupcake eater so this is saying a lot. Often when I eat a cupcake from a cupcake bakery I find that the frosting is silky and rich but the cupcake itself is dry and underwhelming. I can understand why that might happen because my guess is that most cupcake eaters love the frosting more than the cake. I always see them at parties; the ones who before chosing a slice of cake investigate which has the most frosting, often in the form of those frosting rosettes. They’re the ones who, when they order dessert at places like Kickass Cupcakes, get at least one frosting shot on the side. Being the oddball that I am, I am the exact opposite. For as long as I remember I’ve eaten the cake and left the frosting. The frosting was always too rich or too sweet or so sugar-laden it felt gritty on my tongue. Because of this you can understand why I would be disapointed by dry cupcakes.
Thankfully, this recipe for Horchata Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting will appeal to both frosting and cake lovers. The cake is supple and nicely spiced while the frosting is creamy and sweet without being cloyingly so. I also love that using Horchata gives these a unique and grown up flavor. For those unfamiliar, Horchata is a a Mexican beverage. In the United States the most common variety is a rice-based drink, but I have also read of varations that use ground squash seeds or chufa nuts. This recipe calls for 1 cup of fresh horchata. I used my Extra Rich Vegan Horchata, which combines rice, almond, and a cinnamon stick that have been soaked overnight in hot water with vanillay soy milk and sugar, but there are also a multitude of other recipes available on the internet. Baking Bites has a recipe that sounds very easy, although it still requires resting overnight like mine. To save time, you could buy Horchata rather than making it from scratch. It’s pretty widely available in my area at taquerias and Mexican restaurants. Some markets and grocery stores also carry it bottled or canned, although I have not tried store-bought Horchata so I cannot really speak to the quality. I find Horchata to be subtly nuanced in flavor so my personal recommendationwould be to use the best Horchata you can find, whether that means making it at home or buying it at a restaurant. Whether you are a newbie to Horchata or long time Horchata lover these cupcakes are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The rice, cinnamon and almonds really come through in the cake and are well matched with the creamy, tangy frosting. These are great any time of year, but would be especially fitting for a Mexican-inspired meal. Just beware that they are addictive – my boyfriend and I each polished off about 5 each.
Yields 48 mini cupcakes
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 level tablespoons cinnamon
-1 1/3 cups Safflower oil
-1 cup Fresh Horchata
-2 large eggs, room temperature
-1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cake:
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, horchata, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric
mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake at 325 degrees F in oven for 16 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for
doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
Mission Minis Cream Cheese Frosting:
-2 sticks butter, room temperature
-16 ounces cream cheese, room temp
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-3 cups powdered sugar
Cream the butter and cream cheese on med speed using an electric mixer. Add vanilla extract, mix in thoroughly.
Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar into butter, cream cheese, vanilla mixture gradually on low-med speed. Once all powdered sugar is mixed in put mixer on med-high speed and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy.