Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Maple Brown Butter Cupcakes

Maple Brown Butter Cupcakes

My family is long-rooted in the South, but both of my parents (and I) went to college in the Northeast. When we were kids, we made many summer vacation treks to my parents old stomping grounds with trips to New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. It was a chance for us to experience a different part of the country, and the different food specialties my parents remembered. This was in the days before the click of a mouse brought anything you wanted right to your door. I will never forget the trip to Maine on which my father ate so much rich lobster he eventually made himself sick. My mom is a big fan of those maple sugar candies molded into leaves and Santa Claus shapes that were only really available in New England at the time. Maple syrup to me was largely maple flavored pancake syrup, because the real stuff was hard to come by, except what came back from those trips. I know find them at my local store and always pick some up for my mom.

These cupcakes remind me of those maple candies. Rich and sweet and maple-y. The cupcakes themselves are not overwhelmingly sweet, that comes from the decadent frosting. But they both have a healthy dose of real syrup so you get that full-on maple flavor. Brown butter adds a lovely depth that highlights the glorious flavor of maple. This recipe makes enough for deep pillowy clouds of frosting. You can half the recipe if you like a more subtly topped cupcake. And as you can see, I like to top these with a little maple sugar candy. 

Maple Brown Butter Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup amber maple syrup

1 cup heavy cream

2 large eggs

For the Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, (1 for browning, one softened)

3 cups confectioners sugar

6- 7 Tablespoons cream

3 Tablespoons amber maple syrup

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 18 holes of cupcake tins with paper liners. 

Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a large saucepan (light colored or stainless is best so you can see the butter as it browns). Heat over medium high heat, watching constantly, until the butter is melted. It will start to spit and hiss, then you will see brown speckles appear. Stir the butter to distribute the browned bits, and as soon as the butter has an even brown color and a nice nutty smell, pour it into a small glass measuring jug and leave to cool.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Beat in the maple syrup and cream on medium speed until completely combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the cooled brown butter.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting: 

Brown the butter as above, pouring into a shallow bowl. Place the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes. 

When the brown butter has solidified, beat it and the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the maple syrup, then the cream a Tablespoon at a time to reach a spreadable consistency. Spread or pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes. 

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