Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting: Tortuously good

I can hardly look at them. Each one is worse than the next – as though I’m receiving increasingly stronger currents of electric shock as I view each subsequent image.

I know I need to finish editing the pictures, but it’s killing me – numbing my mind and body with a craving so vicious, I’m tempted to go into the kitchen and upend an entire back of C&H sugar into my mouth.

“Why, why, why did I not take a peach cupcake back with me?” I think, the wrath of regret upon me.

I’d made the cupcakes in question for my mother’s birthday the previous day with no intention of liking them. Even though the grammatically incorrect e-mail handle I use for my blog is “ieatcupcakes,” a hold-over from my Hollywood industry days when I really did eat a lot of cupcakes, since that time I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the overtly sweet treat.

It either moves me to desperation, or completely disinterests me.

As such, I’ve only eaten one chocolate soufflé cupcake and part of one red velvet cupcake during the entire course of 2010. Not exactly the cupcake-chomping madness one would expect from a girl who answers to e-mails sent to “ieatcupcakes” rather than “idonteatcupcakes,” or the less succinct, “DianaTakesaBiteofsomethingthatisntacupcake.”

When I set out to make my mom’s birthday dessert on Saturday using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for peach cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting, I never imagined that it would be the causation for my current tortured state. While Deb’s recipes never disappoint, I wasn’t confident that I could administer the same results. I’d never made cupcakes before – even the from-the-box variety – and was fearful of it being too dry, too dense, too sweet, too bland. People have wars on the Food Network over the humble baked good! It couldn’t be a “piece of cake” to make.

But the recipe didn’t fail me. And, most importantly, I didn’t fail it. The cupcakes were perfect – light and delicately peachy with a tender crumb that didn’t leave a sand-like trail on my plate. The sweet peaks of brown sugar cream cheese frosting were the perfect accompaniment to the fruit-filled cake underneath. I didn’t hesitate to scrape the leftovers from the bowl for a post-cupcake frosting shot, and even contemplated going back for a second cupcake.

But I’d ignored the cupcakes.

And continued to ignore them even though I’d woken up that morning with the strong urge to have one for breakfast instead of my Greek yogurt with fruit.

“I don’t eat cupcakes for breakfast.” I’d thought smugly. “I eat yogurt. And oatmeal. And sensible things that do my body good.”

I ignorantly feigned disinterest, unaware of the torture I would experience later in the day.

“How could I be so stupid?” I think now as I scroll through yet another picture – this time an overhead shot of the frosted beauties.

“Everyone should eat these cupcakes for breakfast.” I decide.

And everyone should boldly announce as much in their overly verbose e-mail handles.

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk
1 1/2 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped smallish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the buttermilk. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens back up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop on cooled cupcakes.


Anna A. said...

Damn, I want one, two... Hey, maybe if you put yogurt in these, they would be perfect for breakfast.
Intrigued by the brown sugar frosting.

ChocoMeat said...

Diana, you and Anna are going to cause me to bake cupcakes all weekend. UGH! These look amazing.

Esi said...

Cupckaes are perfectly acceptable for breakfast and I think the cream cheese counts toward breakfast consumption...right?

bagnatic said...

not a bad poison to pick. they look scrumptious.

Ashley said...

I just got my appetite back. And my appetite is for these cupcakes.

Jenn said...

I think I'd be trying to fight the urge myself. Though, I have been craving cupcakes lately. It's a sign I tell ya!!!!

The Duo Dishes said...

Well now. These look like just the thing to give you a proper sugar rush and fuel the afternoon. No wonder you were craving them.

Diana said...

Anna - The recipe actually says you can substitute yogurt for buttermilk, but I'm a sucker for any baked good with buttermilk. I've actually been thinking about making peach buttermilk muffins using my standard oatmeal recipe. Will let you know if I do!

Nathan - I highly recommend you make this recipe if you decide to have a cupcake baking weekend. I actually had to go back to OC on Monday night and happily gobbled up the last cupcake. It was still just as good -- if not better -- than the fresh one I had on Saturday.

Esi - Cream cheese is totally an acceptable breakfast item! Incidentally, I bet one of these cupcakes has fewer calories than a big bagel with cream cheese. I might just have to make this cupcake breakfast of champions happen.

Amy - I'd say it's the perfect poison to pick. :)

Ashley - I will remember this on your birthday. Though I might need to substitute a different kind of fruit to be seasonal.

Jenn - It's definitely a sign. Go eat one now!

Chrystal & Amir - The best part about these cakes is they actually don't give you that sugar rush after! They are sweet, but not in the way that makes you feel crazy after.

Jenny said...

Omg, these look Amazeballs! Brown sugar creamcheese icing!? Get out! I need one now!
-Dessert Darilng

Kung Food Panda said...

Usually I'm not keen on frosting, but brown sugar ones sounds great!