In Good Taste: Maple Cupcakes

In 2005, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito opened a bakery on Brooklyn’s Red Hook waterfront with the proclamation: “This little storefront is our ode to the perfect bakery and we call it, simply, Baked.” Since then, they’ve opened a second Baked location in Charleston, South Carolina, and have released two cookbooks. Their latest, Baked Explorations, pays tribute to classic American desserts, but gives each a distinctly modern flourish.

Baked Explorations would make a perfect holiday gift for your favorite baker, but because the directions are so straightforward, anyone learning to bake would appreciate it, too. For a taste of Baked Explorations, here’s the recipe for Maple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Bon appetit!

1. Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito; founders of Baked | 2. Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, $16.47 | 3. Maple Cupcakes from Baked Explorations |

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Maple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 24 cupcakes


For the Maple Cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature

2 cups pure maple syrup (I use grade B to bake with but any grade will suffice)

3 egg yolks

1 large egg

1 ¼ cups whole milk

1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

For the Cream Cheese Maple Frosting:

¾ cup (1. sticks) unsalted butter, softened

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons maple syrup


Whole toasted walnuts (optional)


Make the Maple Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until ribbonlike. Turn the mixer to low and stream in the maple syrup. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is nearly uniform in color, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg yolks and egg, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stream in the milk. Stop the mixer, add the rest of the flour, then turn the mixer on until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the walnuts.

Fill the prepared cupcake pan about three-quarters full. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Note: These cupcakes take longer to bake than traditional cupcakes due to the maple syrup.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for 15 minutes in the cupcake pan, then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.


Make the Cream Cheese Maple Frosting

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add the sugar and the maple syrup and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the frosting or it will lose structure. (At this point, if you want to, you can tightly cover the frosting and refrigerate it for a day. Let it soften at room temperature before using.)


Assemble the Cupcakes

There are many ways to frost a cupcake. If you have a pastry bag, simply fit with the largest tip, fill the bag with frosting, and pipe enough to cover the cupcake in a big mound. If you do not have a pastry bag, use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop the frosting and dispense it onto the top of the cupcake. You can also use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes. Top with whole toasted walnuts.

Refrigerate any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring cupcakes to room temperature before serving.

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