I bake a lot. In the last month, I’ve made one chocolate cake with salted buttercream frosting, one chocolate cake with vanilla-peanut butter frosting, one Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake (similar to what I made here), one batch of chocolate mini bundt cakes, and a batch of mint chip cookies—all for various special occasions. And later this week, I’ll be making cupcakes for my friend’s bridal shower. I love trying new recipes, but there’s one that I keep coming back to more than any other (and it’s the one I’ll be making this weekend): Martha Stewart’s brown-sugar pound cupcakes. But instead of topping them with the brown-butter glaze the recipe calls for, I always go with Martha’s honey-cinnamon frosting. Without fail, the cupcakes gets tons of compliments. Here’s a batch I made for a friend’s going away party:
And then another time I baked up the same batter into a layer cake for a friend’s birthday and topped the whole thing off with marzipan cats:
These are great, reliable recipes—but if you want to know a secret, that’s only part of the reason why these treats have consistently gotten rave reviews. Part of what makes them so memorable is that the flavor profile is a little out-of-the-ordinary. See, everyone has experienced a truly delicious chocolate cake or yellow cake. It’s hard to really blow someone away with one of those classics. But most people haven’t tasted anything like these cupcakes before—so they’re that much more impressive.
Go ahead, give them a try. (One tip if you’re new to baking: Follow the recipes exactly and level off the measuring cups as you’re preparing all of the ingredients—baking is an exercise in precision!) I can all but guarantee you’ll be impressed with the results.
Brown-Sugar Pound Cupcakes
makes 29 standard-size cupcakes
via Martha Stewart
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
Honey-Cinnamon Frosting (see below)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
2. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each full.
3. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks about an hour.
4. Frost cupcakes.
via Martha Stewart
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners’ sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.