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)

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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16 Responses to “Coconut Layer Cake Filled with Lemon Curd”

  1. #
    Erica @ Inandaroundtown — April 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    WOW – I would like to have a piece of that cake as soon as possible! looks beautiful and delicious!

  2. #
    FunandFearlessinBeantown — April 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This cake looks beautiful and I love the addition of toasted coconut!

  3. #
    Christina — April 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I love love cakes with coconut. So delicious.

  4. #
    Maria — April 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Beautiful cake!

  5. #
    DeliciousDish — April 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Totally agree – the more layers the better! The cake looks stunning!

  6. #
    Paula Kelly-Bourque — April 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Had I been at your dinner party you wouldn’t have had to cook anything. I would have just completely indulged in this gorgeous cake!

  7. #
    Evan — April 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    This cake looks incredible! coconut and lemon are two of my favorite flavors; I’m glad you don’t have to choose one or the other with this recipe.

  8. #
    Bianca Garcia — April 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    This sounds wonderful. Coconut with lemon curd, yummmm!

  9. #
    Taryn — April 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    This looks fantastic – so springy and beautiful, and absolutely delish 🙂

  10. #
    ammy 92 — April 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    what a wonderful cake!

  11. #
    ErinsFoodFiles — April 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Beautiful cake! I’ve been craving a coconut cake, but I know too many people who don’t like coconut cake that if I made it I wouldn’t have anyone to share. Boo.

  12. #
    Shannon — April 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    ooh, fabulous. love the lemon curd-coconut combo, and in a layer cake, fun!!

  13. #
    A Boston Food Diary — April 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    OF COURSE 4 is better than 2!!! This looks amazing….I love the idea of lemon and coconut together-and it’s gorgeous!

  14. #
    Aimee — April 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Love lemon curd, love coconut, especially love a cake that lets me “frost” the sides with ease. This looks so yummy!!

  15. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — April 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Such a delicious cake! I honestly didn’t know a 6 inch was half of a 9 inch….thank you 🙂

  16. #
    Kelly Jaremco — April 29, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I told my girlfriend I would bake her a cake for her birthday this Sunday !!! I got lemon curd and coconut stuck in my brain, so I started googling… which led me to your page !!! This recipie looks almost perfect !!

    Couple questions…

    Do you think the coconut extract was too strong for the cake, because you also have the browned coconut pcs too? I was considering vanilla bean cake, lemon curd and toasted coconut on the outside… but perhaps that wouldn’t be enough coconut flavour…. your thoughts?

    Lastly… what did you use as the frosting to keep the toasted coconut on? It looks like whipping cream…. ?!?!?

    Thanks !!!

    This is the first cake I’ve ever baked !!! lol

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