Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brown Sugar Pound Cupcakes with Brown-Butter Icing

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Chapter 2: Dipped and Glazed
Brown Sugar Pound Cakes, page 60
Brown-Butter Icing, page 314

One of the great Christmas gifts I received was Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, from my dear mother.

The same mother who taught me a fond and genuine appreciation of cooking. She was always patient, supportive and humble in teaching me to cook. If it weren't for her, I would have never acquired the foundation of knowing how to cook. From the simple to complex, she taught me.

I read Cupcakes cover to cover over the course of a few hours on Christmas morning. One particular cupcake immediately jumped off the pages into my brain - Brown Sugar Pound Cakes with Brown-Butter Icing.

Made exclusively with brown sugar and buttermilk (a triumph when it comes to cupcakes), these are slightly dense, like a pound cake. And although Martha's recipe indicated a yield of 28 cupcakes, I came out with 24. (It's possible I filled the cupcake liners with a scant more than the 3/4 full called for in the recipe.)

And while the cupcakes were baking, I learned another valuable life lesson. The kind of life lesson you learn the first time your heart is broken; you never forget. I have 2 cupcake / muffin pans - one non-stick; one not non-stick. This creates uneven cooking temperatures and cooking times. So, I'll need to remedy this before the next batch. But they turned out beautifully (unless you look hard and see what was the bubbled up goo of a few cupcakes in the not non-stick pan).

And then there was the icing, which is what, to me, cupcakes are all about. Well, sort of. It begins with butter, which instantly means it's going to be fabulous. You can never go wrong with butter. Butter makes everything better. Butter is the life blood of cooking and the life blood of my soul. I love butter. And did you know, I really - I mean, REALLY - love butter. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me to rub it on my thighs and they'll magically shrink into supermodel size. Yes, I'm still waiting.

The Brown-Butter icing is heavenly and just enough to elevate the sweetness without making the cupcake too sweet. The cupcake itself has a caramel essence brought by the brown sugar and is slightly heavy like a pound cake should be. And the nuttiness of the Brown-Butter icing is yet another element of flavor. Delicious!

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