Pillbox

Spread some holiday and cupcake cheer

Before I bake for my friends and family, I spend at least two days stressing about what I want to make — especially around holidays. It has to be something everyone will like, something I will like, and something that will be fun and seasonal.

Since this is The Tartan’s last issue for the semester, I want to leave you with a holiday flavor. I was considering gingerbread, cranberry, and peppermint when I remembered what I made for my family last Christmas — nutmeg cupcakes with eggnog frosting. They were so perfectly seasonal and delicious that I knew this was the recipe to share with you.

Holiday flavors have such a unique, nostalgic ability to capture our hearts. With just one sip of eggnog, a whole flood of Christmases past come back. When I ate this cupcake again this week, I was transported back to my Grandma’s house for our Christmas party last year, where I sat around the dining room table with my aunts and uncles and cousins, full of that good ol’ holiday cheer. I hope to put a little of that spirit in your hearts with these cupcakes!

For the cake, I used a spice cake recipe, which typically includes cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. I altered the recipe by removing the other spices and increasing the quantity of nutmeg. Don’t be afraid to pump up the volume on the nutmeg; even though it can be a pretty overwhelming flavor in some contexts, it can get buried under the cake and frosting if there isn’t enough, and we don’t want that.

For the frosting, I use my standard buttercream recipe, (which couldn’t be easier) but replace some of the milk with eggnog. If I replaced all of the milk with eggnog, the
frosting would be too thick and sticky, so the milk is important for thinning it out.

The following recipe makes 24 standard-sized cupcakes.

Nutmeg Cupcake

2 1/2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 tablespoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 stick of butter, softened
1 1/4 cups of packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups of milk

Eggnog Frosting

2 sticks of butter, softened
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons of milk
1/4 cup of eggnog

Instructions

If you’re the type of person who likes to do things in advance, (not me) then I recommend preheating the oven to 350 degrees and putting cupcake liners in two trays for a total of 24. Then combine all of the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Put them in a bowl and give them a whisk.

Next, cream the butter and brown sugar together, which is infinitely easier with an electric mixer (all hail KitchenAid). Creaming means that they aren’t just combined, but they start to break down and get really fluffy and amazing. Then add the eggs in one at a time, followed by the vanilla. The final step is to add one-third of the dry mix, then half of the milk, and alternate those steps until everything is added. Once you have a delicious, aromatic batter, divide it evenly among the liners. (Pro-tip: If you use a standard-sized ice cream scooper, this will go so much faster!) Bake them for 18 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you tap the tops and the cake springs back with no dent left behind.

While those cool, you can start on the frosting. Cream the butter like earlier until it’s smooth and shiny. Then start adding the powdered sugar about a cup at a time. When it gets crumbly, add some liquid to thin it out. Keep repeating this until all your ingredients have been added. If it doesn’t taste eggnog-y enough, add more. But counter that addition with more powdered sugar so you maintain good consistency. Also, for those of you 21+ really looking to get in the holiday spirit, try using some spiked eggnog.

If you feel comfortable with a piping bag, I think these look so perfect with a star tip. It’s so Christmas-y! If not, spreading the frosting on with a knife or spatula is still wonderful. After all, it’ll taste the same either way! You can also top it with a little bit more nutmeg for some extra color and flavor. And at long last, you have beautiful, scrumptious cupcakes that Santa himself would die for.

To see just how obsessed I am with seasonal treats and for more cupcake recipes, visit Gutie’s Goodies at www.gutiesgoodies.blogspot.com.