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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

With the holidays right around the corner, this is a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  Recently, I went to a little get-together and needed a quick and easy holiday treat.  I had a box of Whole Wheat Gingerbread mix from Hodgson Mill sitting in the pantry.  I'm generally kind of wary about any sort of baking mix, due to the chemicals and other weird things in the ingredients list.  Much to my surprise, when I looked at the ingredients list on the box of this Gingerbread mix, I saw only ingredients that I could easily pronounce… Whole grain whole wheat flour, molasses, brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and cloves.  Knowing everything in this mix was a normal baking ingredient I typically stock in my own pantry, I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cupcakes on Hodgson Mill's website and set to work with no hesitation.   These have a wonderful texture, not something you'd expect from a whole wheat recipe.  And the little bit of cocoa added to the batter, along with the cinnamon brown sugar buttercream really make these something special. 

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
For the cupcakes (makes 15 cupcakes)
1 15oz box Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Gingerbread Mix
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup water, room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the gingerbread mix, baking powder, cocoa powder and brown sugar, and set aside.  
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and eggs.  
Using a large spoon, stir  the dry ingredients into the wet in three additions alternating with the water, beginning and ending with the dry mixture and stirring until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth.  
Fill a paper lined muffin tin ½ to 2/3 full with batter.  
Bake cupcakes in a 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Immediately remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  

For the frosting
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks) 
1/3 cup light brown sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 - 1/4 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add brown sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon beating until well incorporated.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time beating well after each addition.  One tablespoon at a time, add the milk and beat on high speed.  Add milk until the desired consistency is reached.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hodgson Mill GIVEAWAY!

Those Whole Wheat Pumpkin Crumb muffins with from my last post were the perfect fall or winter breakfast (or snack… at any time of the day).  That was one of those recipes when I was really sad when they were gone.  I think I'll be making them again soon.  I have so many other plans for the Hodgson Mill flours sitting in my pantry, too!

Want to try baking with Hodgson Mill's flours for yourself?  The nice people are Hodgson Mill are nice enough to offer a Prize-Pack giveaway for one lucky Ice Cream Before Dinner reader!  One lucky winner will receive a $25 value of assorted Hodgson Mill products, your choice of choice of gluten free or whole wheat products.

Also, don't forget!  Hodgson Will is also doing a  “25 Days of GRAIN Holiday” Sweepstakes - One winner will be selected to win every day for 25 days – winner's choice of $25 worth of gluten free products or an assortment of whole wheat baking mixes and flours!  Plus, they're offering a $1 off coupon, good for any 5LB bag flour or cornmeal (

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Have a GRAIN Holiday: Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling and Salted Caramel Sauce

How many times have your grand baking plans ended in disaster?  For me, it has been quite a few.  This Thanksgiving was no exception, except thankfully this time I was able to turn it around into a total baking win - and I found a new favorite muffin recipe in the process. 

I had very high hopes for Thanksgiving dessert.  I was going to make crepes for the first time.  We prepared all of the fixings (the filling, the sauce) ahead of time besides the crepe batter - we left that to the last minute so that the crepes would be fresh when it was time to eat… It turns out crepes are not as easy to make as all those Parisian crepe makers make it look.  After many attempts, we finally got some that weren't so bad-looking, but they were hardly the perfect looking pastry I had envisioned.  While it tasted pretty good, it just didn't live up to my expectations.  I think I'll leave the crepe making up to the experts.

The morning after, I found myself awake early... with a muffin craving... and lots of extra ingredients left over from the failed crepe making experiment.  Armed with a variety of premium flours from Hodgson Mill, I set to work.    The end result was an absolutely perfect Morning-After-a-Holiday muffin (or any other day muffin, for that matter).  These moist, Whole wheat Pumpkin Muffins have a brown sugar crumb on top, and a Cinnamon Cream Cheese filling.  The Salted Caramel drizzle is an absolute MUST and takes these muffins to the next level of awesome.  I enjoyed these so much, I think I'll be making them on the day after Christmas, too.  You would never guess there are whole wheat!  I really think the high quality flour used made a big difference here.  The awesome people of Hodgson Mill are giving out $1 off coupons good on any 5 lb bag of Hodgson Mill flour or cornmeal, click here.  Plus, they are doing a 25 Days of GRAIN holiday sweepstakes.  One winner will be selected to win every day for 25 days – winner's choice of $25 worth of gluten free products or an assortment of whole wheat baking mixes and flours.

Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling and Salted Caramel Sauce,
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients for the muffin: 
1 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Hodgson Mill flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
14 oz pure pumpkin (aka pureed pumpkin, canned pumpkin)
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Crumb topping: 
1/2 cup White Whole Wheat Hodgson Mill flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Ingredients for the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line a muffin tin with 12 liners and set aside.

Prepare the filling: Using a hand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and the cinnamon and sugar.  When they are fully incorporated, add in the vanilla.  Mix to combine.  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and refrigerate.

Prepare the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter with a fork or whisk.  It should form small crumbs.  

Prepare the muffin batter: In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Fold in the wet ingredients until combined.

Fill the wells of the cupcake tin with the batter, about 2/3 full.  Pipe a dollop of cinnamon cream cheese filling onto the top of the batter.  Then, sprinkle each muffin with crumb topping.

Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter (not the cream cheese) does out clean with only small crumbs.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt + additional for topping

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter together with the heavy cream.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  

Spread sugar into a thin, even layer at the bottom of a large pot.  Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the sugar heat up for 8 minutes, no stirring.  Let the sugar continue to heat up for the next 8 minutes.  Towards the end of this time, it should begin to liquify.  

When it begins to appear light brown and clear in spots, begin to fold the melted sugar on top of the unmelted sugar with a spatula.  Continue to fold until the entire thing has melted and it turns golden brown - This happens very quickly, so keep a close eye on it.  

When it turns golden brown, remove it from the heat and quickly stir in half of the cream-butter mixture - Stirring continuously the entire time.  Be careful to avoid bubbles and splashes from burning you.  Don't be scared if it begins to harden and clump.  If this happens, return the pot to medium-low heat and stir constantly until it has all melted.  Be patient!  If you want a thicker caramel, keep on the heat, stirring constantly for another 10 minutes.  Keep in mind, it will thicken as it cools.  As the last step, add in the sea salt and stir to incorporate.

Drizzle on top of the pumpkin muffins immediately before serving.  The caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, and heated in the microwave prior to drizzling.  Serving suggestion: Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt on top of caramel drizzle before serving.


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