I first created this recipe almost a year ago when I had some leftover frosting I wanted to use up on something before it went to waste. It was right around the holidays and ALL I WANTED WAS CINNAMON. I mean I couldn’t stop thinking about it and wanting it and smelling it. You know what I’m talking about, right? It was the time of year when the only candles you buy are ones with apples and pumpkins and cinnamon sticks on the front and you burn them All. Day. Long. I live for that time of the year.
So naturally when I began mixing something together, I dumped a whole tablespoon of cinnamon into the batter before I stopped to think twice about it. After I did that my first thought was “oh no, they’re going to turn out so bitter and they’ll be horrible and terrible and I can’t believe I did this, I’m so stupid, what was I thinking?!” and so on and so forth. I was so surprised at how perfectly sweet and tender they turned out. DO NOT be afraid to use this much cinnamon. It’s wonderful for your health, by the way.
We celebrated a birthday at work recently for a co-worker of mine and I happen to know she is nuts about cinnamon. One of my favorite things to do when I bake in copious amounts is to bring it in to work – in this way I prevent consuming it all for myself. Most days. She didn’t say a word about it but I know she wanted me to make something for her. I knew I would make something to bring to work in celebration of her birthday.
This recipe was the first thing that came to mind. My original recipe included buttermilk, which lended itself immaculately to the perfect crumb of the cupcake. In this specific instance, I found myself devoid of any types of dairy milk – all I was left with was almond milk. I decided to substitute the buttermilk for a mixture of almond milk and vegetable oil. I’ve heard that if you add lemon juice to milk and let it sit for a few minutes, it will basically turn into buttermilk. However, I just assumed this would not happen with almond milk. Is this true? Please let me know if you have tried this with almond milk and come out with something similar to buttermilk – I would be very interested to know.
The final product this time still came out surprisingly beautiful, even though I found myself dying to have the texture of the buttermilk cake. I decided to add a vanilla pastry crème to the middle of this cupcake to help out the overall texture/taste and it was absolutely delicious!! It was so rich and creamy and went perfectly with the cinnamon flavor. The cream cheese icing piped in a beautiful rosette on top added the perfect touch for her birthday.
The pictures you see here are the version with the almond milk/vegetable oil recipe. In my recipe instructions I will include the ingredient measurements for both the buttermilk as well as the option you see pictured here, just in case you end up in the same situation with no buttermilk and a killer craving for cinnamon cupcakes.
These are perfect to add to your menu of weekend guilty pleasures, next work potluck, birthday celebrations, youth activities, or whatever else you may find yourself needing excellent treats to accompany. Please let me know if you tried this recipe and how they turned out!
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Cupcakes:
- 2 sticks of softened butter
- 1/2 cup white sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup almond milk + 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1 cup buttermilk, if you have it)
- 2 eggs
For the Vanilla Crème filling:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half and seeds removed
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp butter
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
- 2 sticks of softened butter
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 lbs + 2 cups Powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tsp salt
How to put it all together:
- Begin by heating your oven to 350° F and lining two cupcake pans with liners.
- Place the softened butter and the sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream them on medium speed until the ingredients are nicely incorporated together and the mixture gets slightly paler in color – about 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, soft the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a separate bowl and set aside.
- Add your almond milk, oil, and vanilla extract to a pitcher and set aside.
- Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add your eggs one at a time and allow to mix.
- Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and then add half the flour mixture to the stand mixer. Allow to incorporate just barely and then add the milk mixture. Once homogeneous, add the remaining flour and mix until only just combined – do not overmix!
- Use the spatula again to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to ensure all the flour is mixed in. Use a large ice cream scoop to drop the batter into the prepared liners.
- Bake for approximately 16 minutes and then remove to cool while making the vanilla crème.
- To make the crème, add the first three ingredients to a small sauce pan and stir on low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is steaming. Remove the vanilla bean.
- Whisk your egg yolks in a small bowl and then temper them by slowly drizzling the hot milk mixture into the bowl and whisking briskly. Then add the yolks to the sauce pan with the remaining milk mixture and stir constantly on low heat for about 6-8 minutes until it thickens considerably. Add the extract.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve and then stir in the pat of butter for a glossy finish.
- Allow to cool by covering with plastic wrap in the fridge.
- To make the icing, mix the butter and cream cheese on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until well incorporated. Be sure to not overmix the cream cheese as it tends to become more loose the longer it’s worked.
- Add half of the sifted powdered sugar as well as the extract and mix, pulsing, until all the sugar is mixed in. Stop here to scrape down the bowl, including the bottom. Add the cream and the remaining sugar, mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy – about 4 minutes.
Here’s how to assemble everything:
- Use a corer to remove the center of the cupcakes.
- Spoon in the crème using a small spoon, until it almost reached the top.
- Place the icing in a piping bag fit with a 2D Wilton tip and then pipe a rosette on the top by starting in the middle, pressing in to the cupcake gently to create a small mound and then rotating the tip in a circular motion around the outside of the mound until you reach the outside of the cupcake. Be sure to ‘flick’ the tip gently at the end of the rosette to prevent the icing from holding on to the tip.