Cupcake Hero Challenge: Maple Walnut Cranberry Cupcakes with Cranberry Sauce and Maple Frosting

When this month’s cupcake hero theme was announced to be cranberry, I was a little worried.

I don’t eat cranberries. Growing up, it was never in the Thanksgiving spread. In fact, until a week ago, I had never even touched the things.

I don’t drink cranberry juice. I had a kidney stone a few years back and had to go on an all-liquid diet for 5 days until it passed. I had to drink a gallon of cranberry juice every day. And, to make things worse, it was the week of Thanksgiving. Since then, I haven’t touched the stuff.

But I wanted to give the little guys a second chance. After all, it’s not their fault that my family never served cranberry sauce or that I got a kidney stone. And they’re really pretty during harvest time…
I started early in the month looking for a cupcake recipe with cranberries in it. Most recipes with cranberries are for muffins or scones; sometimes cookies have dried cranberries… I asked everyone who would listen what flavors go with cranberries – most people suggested orange or white chocolate.

I really wanted to stretch my baking wings and do some experimental baking. I’ve never “invented” a baking recipe, but I do it all the time when I cook. I found the base recipe for my cupcake in Crazy about Cupcakes. I thought that cranberries would go well with a maple-walnut cupcake. Then I thought about the frosting.

I wanted these guys to have a strong cranberry flavor and I was worried the berry would get lost in the cupcake. I thought about adding cranberries to the frosting and then it hit me. I could do a cranberry glaze and a maple syrup cream cheese frosting.

When the cupcakes came out of the oven, they smelled like warm pancakes – yuuuuummmmmmy! I was right about the berry flavor being lost in the cupcake, so now it was all up to the glaze.

The cranberry glaze turned out too sweet and I wanted the cranberry flavor to be more tart/tangy. The cream cheese frosting was also too runny and didn’t want to hold up for piping.

I decided to make a cranberry sauce with no sugar, to keep it tart, and a maple syrup buttercream so it could be piped. This flavor combination of the sweet maple syrup frosting, tangy cranberry sauce and nutty cupcake turned out amazing. After hours in the kitchen and years of avoiding cranberries at all costs, my mouth was excited when I took the first bite.

I sent these guys to work with Hubby and he said they got more compliments than any other baked good he has taken in!! I have to admit, they are quite pretty 🙂

Maple Walnut Cupcakes (from Crazy about Cupcakes ) makes 18 – (with my changes in purple)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour – I use King Arthurs White Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped cranberries

Preheat over to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.

In a large bowl cream together the sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the maple syrup. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until mixture is smooth.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, powder, and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat well. Stir in the walnuts and chopped cranberries.

Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.

Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce (by ME!)
1 bag of cranberries (less 1 cup for the cupcakes)
water

Place remaining cranberries in a saucepan. Add water to cover the berries.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and cover. Allow to simmer while cupcakes bake and cool.

When cranberry sauce is cooled, puree in food processor by using the pulse button.

Maple Syrup Frosting (by ME!)
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2+ Tbsp maple syrup

Cream butter and sugar until blended. Add maple syrup until desired consistency and flavor is reached

To assemble cupcakes:
Allow cupcakes to completely cool. Using a toothpick, poke multiple holes into the cupcake tops.
Spoon some cranberry sauce onto the top of the cupcakes, coming close to the edge. Allow to soak in for 20 minutes.

Mix frosting while cranberry sauce is settling. Using a large tip, pipe frosting on to of sauce, but not covering all of the sauce.

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13 Responses to “Pomegranate Cranberry Quinoa Salad”

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    1
    Smitten Sugar — January 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I just made Quinoa for the first time myself this week. Love the addition of pomegranate. I will have to try it out!

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    2
    Evan Thomas — January 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I love quinoa! Never tried it with these ingredients. Great recipe!

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    3
    Chelsea — January 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I love quinoa, especially in breakfast form! Never had it with pomegranates, yay!

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    4
    The Small Boston Kitchen — January 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Glad you liked! It’s one of my favorites. Also packages up really nicely for a healthy take-to-work lunch!

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    5
    Fun and Fearless in Beantown — January 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I adore quinoa because it is so healthy and so filling!

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    6
    ErinsFoodFiles — January 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Yum yum yum! What a yummy looking quinoa dish! I love quinoa, so if you’re looking to find more quinoa recipes, feel free to browse my blog. 🙂

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    7
    Sarah @ Semi-Sweet — January 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I love the versatility of quinoa – once you start cooking with it, it’s hard to stop . . . we think it makes a great breakfast, too! Warmed with milk, fruit & a little maple syrup or agave? Energy for the day!

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    8
    Nisrine|Dinners and Dreams — January 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I love a good quinoa recipe. This one sounds worth a try.

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    9
    Shannon — January 21, 2011 at 1:47 am

    LOVE quinoa and poms 🙂 this looks like a delicious way to enjoy both ingredients!!

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    10
    Daisy — January 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    don’t worry, I am officially the last one.

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    11
    Megan — January 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I’m glad you tried it! I love quinoa. I think it’s second to Israeli couscous in my book. And pomegranates — love them. This sounds delicious!

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    12
    kitchenmisfit — January 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I am surprised by the chicken stock! It seems like it should be a sweet dish. I love quinoa and my husband does too!

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    13
    Cheryl — January 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I have been reading about quinoa the “superfood” and how good it is for us. I bought some awhile back but hadn’t used it so I decided to try your recipe. OMG! I love it! I didn’t have pomegranate seeds and instead of almonds I used toasted pecans and also added orange zest. I will be using quinoa a lot now. Thanks!

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