Monday, May 4, 2015

I Love a Good Fiesta!

For as long as I've been living on this planet, I have spent all but one year living in the south. I've grown up with a fond appreciation and respect for the various cultures that make up the great state of Texas and the, well, state of New Mexico. I have long been in love with Mexico's holiday of Dia de Los Muertos and it's celebration of our passed loved ones, but Cinco de Mayo is another holiday with rich tradition. This day is, in fact, not Mexican Independence Day (that's September 16, FYI), or just another excuse to drink loads of good beer (that's March 17, FYI). It is a day that celebrates an improbable but miraculous victory of the Mexican militia over the French (people used to be scared of them, FYI). We in the south now celebrate this day with food, music, and festivities (the closest anyone came to celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Detroit involved visiting a Taco Bell. Good to be home.). I'm also really in to sombreros, and I believe they should be worn to more than just Cinco de Mayo parties. I will show up to your fiesta, sombrero on head. They're extremely large, intricately detailed, and usually sparkly in places. They pretty much make all those crazy Kentucky Derby hats people wore last weekend seem rather insignificant. But along with the sombreros, I am madly in love with Mexican cuisine- the seasoned meats, topped with tasty cheeses and addictive spicy sauces all wrapped in some form of tortilla that delivers this goodness to my big fat mouth...mmm. But I was looking into desserts (naturally) to make to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and came across a recipe for churro cupcakes. The mere mention of the word churros makes my eyes glaze over and drool start to form, so naturally these were muy, muy bueno.
I'm certainly not the only one drooling right now.

A few months ago, Applebee's revamped their menu and put Churro S'mores on their appetizers:
1. I feel like Applebee's really missed the boat by not calling their appetizers Appletizers.
2. Sadly, I am well acquainted with Applebee's menu because it is one of the only places we can go here to have a beer after 8 p.m.
We've never tried the Churro S'mores, but my husband usually bugs the crap out of me to get them. I'm sorry, but mozarella sticks will always reign supreme as the best bar food to me. So I kinda made these churro cupcakes more for him than anything else, but you better believe I'm eating the hell out of them, too. The recipe itself is quite simple, so let's get down to business!
Two types of flour? Getting a little loco up in here.
This recipe was found and adapted to make one dozen amazing little nuggets of cinnamon-sugar goodness:
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups cake flour (yeah, this is a real thing, I promise.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter at room temp
  • 3/4 heaping cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces of milk (a little over 2/3 of a cup)
Start by preheating your oven to the magical temperature of 350 and lining your tray with cupcake papers. Cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes in your stand mixer until nice and fluffy. While this is taking place, mix together the dry ingredients in another bowl. Once your butter and sugar is mixed, add in one egg at a time and mix well, and then add in the vanilla extract. After this, add in half of the dry mix and blend well. Scrape the bowl and add in half the milk. Repeat this process once more to complete your batter. Eat any as needed because this stuff is like liquid gold on the tongue.
My muffin tin has seen better days.
Bake at 350 for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean from the cupcakes. Let cool in your tin for about 5-10 minutes and then transfer each cupcake to a cooling rack.
Like so. At this point, you've got a solid breakfast muffin on your hands.
You really could get away with just adding the crunchy topping and eat these every morning and be perfectly content, but frosting is really the only reason we eat dessert and you all know it. Let your cupcakes cool completely before moving on to the next step.
If it starts with melted butter, I'm always in.
Melt about 2-3 tablespoons of butter in one bowl and mix together some sugar and a tiny bit of cinnamon in another bowl. One at a time, take each cupcake and brush the top completely with butter and then dip the top of the cupcake into to cinnamon-sugar mix and swirl around to coat completely.
Heaven has a face, alright.
I know, right? Look at how scrumptious these babies are. Feel free to lick as many of them as you want to claim them as your own. What? That's not how your family does things? Then how do you know what's really yours? You may think I'm crazy, but everyone draws the line at other people's saliva. Let's move on from this awkwardness and talk frosting (yes, another lickable thing!).
Sí, there will be MORE cinnamon!
To make the frosting, here's what you need:
  • 4 ounces of room temp cream cheese
  • 1 stick of room temp butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  •  A splash of milk if you like a thinner frosting, but for piping, I used no milk to maintain a thick consistency that would hold shape.
  • Optional: The CUTEST little chili pepper cupcake picks I have ever seen. Ole!
Start by creaming together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy (3 minutes or so). Add in the cinnamon, vanilla, and mix away. Add one cup of sugar at a time, stopping between each to scrape the bowl and maybe eat a little bit along the way. Finish off by adding any milk if you need it.
I don't have tiny hands, this is just a really large Ateco open star tip.
Load up your piping bag with the frosting. I wanted to make sure the gorgeous cinnamon-sugar sprinkles could be seen, so I placed my tip a tiny bit above my cupcake and then piped out frosting (do not move the tip up or down) until it covered the center of the cupcake, finally, pull up and away quickly.
A dollop of deliciousness.
Repeat for all twelve cupcakes. And in another improbable but miraculous moment, there was a little bit of frosting leftover that I may or may not but probably did eat.
Finish off by adding the pepper picks to the center of each cupcake. The mound of frosting will give a little and create a perfect cushion for these toppers.
However you and yours celebrate Cinco de Mayo, these churro cupcakes are a perfect addition to the dessert table (you know, by the sopapillas and tres leches cake because DAMN did Mexico ever get dessert right). They are light, the cinnamon-sugar topping adds a perfect light crunch and sweetness, and the cinnamon cream cheese frosting just (literally and figuratively) tops it all off. We're going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo tomorrow with some Mexican Shepherd's Pie (this is what happens when you marry someone Irish), plenty of churro cupcakes, perhaps even some mariachi music, and maybe an appearance of a sombrero.
There is never a bad moment for these, I swear.
I love a good fiesta. I love cultures that know how to celebrate their history. I love a lot of things, and most of them involve food. Let's be thankful that regardless of where we're all from, things like churro cupcakes exist in this world. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
The three amigos.

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