Cinnamon is one of the most frequently used spices in my kitchen, but it isn’t often the star of a dessert. Cinnamon is frequently used to accent other flavors, drawing attention to the floral sweetness of vanilla, highlighting the nuttiness of oatmeal or blending with nutmeg and other warm spices. But cinnamon can certainly stand on its own and it does so very well in these Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting.
The cupcakes remind me a little bit of coffee cake, but only because a classic coffee cake is the one other baked good that is usually laden with as much cinnamon as these are. The cupcakes are warm and spicy, with a little bit of the heat from all that cinnamon. The cupcakes, frankly, could be eaten on their own and pair well with almost any kind of frosting you might be able to think of. I paired these with a chocolate frosting – and a very rich one at that – both to create a contrast with the spicy cupcakes and to add a decadence that cements these as a dessert treat, not a brunch one.
For the frosting, I used a Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting recipe that I love, but I added cinnamon to it. To give it a Mexican Chocolate flavor, you could add a pinch of cayenne along with the cinnamon, but I wanted to keep things simple here. If you have cinnamon extract, you can omit the cinnamon and mix in 1/4 teaspoon of that along with the vanilla extract. Since I dusted the tops of the cupcakes with a bit of cinnamon (for presentation) before serving, I didn’t go too heavy on the cinnamon in the frosting. Taste as you go and see what works for you. The frosting is fairly soft and I like to swirl it on with a spoon. For piping, you might want to add in additional confectioners’ sugar to thicken it up.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk (pref. whole milk)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until well-combined. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining half of the flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
Take the cupcakes out of the pan and place them on a wire rack. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting with Cinnamon
10-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon or 1/4 tsp cinnamon extract
2 – 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Melt together chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, or until close to room temperature, then stir in the sour cream, salt and vanilla extract. When smooth, blend in (with an electric mixer) about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Gradually add in remaining confectioners’ sugar until a smooth, spreadable consistency is reached.
Frosting will be glossy when it is first made, but will gradually set to a matte finish.