There’s something about the smell of pastries baking in the morning that brings back some serious childhood memories, especially in the winter. Walking downstairs, the smell of fresh-out-of-the-oven muffins always seduced me into taking those last steps over the frigid wood floor. They were steaming, scrumptiously sweet bites of heaven, not to mention their partner in crime: a mug of hot chocolate with a marshmallow crown. And it was for breakfast. Whoa. Adults always seemed to find reasons to break the “no sweets for breakfast” rule.
Now as an “adult”, I find that my craving for sweets has turned down a few notches. If I started my day with that much sugar, I would be a wreak, not to mention my taste buds would be totally out of commission. When you taste wine as often as we do, you realize your days of skittles and fruit roll ups are essentially over. But this doesn’t mean we have forgone the world of dessert, no sir. When we find something that has “sinful” written in the margins, that’s the end of it, there’s no stopping us. While our kid-selves might have craved any old sweet, our slightly more mature selves crave something covertly sinful.
Back to muffins. Again, these are tasty morsels that have earned their stolid position in the breakfast realm, and they can certainly be a real crowd (or me) pleaser. But honestly, they are essentially naked cupcakes. They are just so honest and innocent, there’s not an ounce of taboo left inside their tender crumbs. But throw a silky, decadent layer of icing on that cute little puff, maybe some booze, and hallelujah. My kind of crazy.
These cupcakes are a perfect example of a little naughty thrown in a batch of nice. They take a lighter spin on a classic carrot cake, losing the gritty nuts and letting the sweet raisins strut their stuff. The texture is light and fluffy, so much so you might even convince yourself to have two! The plain looking white frosting on the top is not so plain after all: it’s a luscious combination of sweetened mascarpone cheese hit with a healthy kick of our signature Maple Wine. This is my inner child craving sugar, but sneaking it into a more lux package. And guess what guys, these babies have fruit and vegetables in them, so go ahead and have these cupcakes for breakfast. Or shall we say ‘well dressed’ muffins? Whichever makes you feel better about the situation, I guess!
P.S. Don’t forget that left over Maple Wine to sip alongside these treats. The wine and cupcakes were made for each other, so don’t let them be lonely!
This recipe was adapted from a carrot cake recipe in The American Craft Beer Cookbook by John Holl
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground allspice (we hand ground allspice berries for this!)
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots
¾ cup raisins, rough chopped
2 Tbsp Maple Wine
12 oz mascarpone cheese, locally sourced if available
1 lb confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp Maple Wine
½ tsp vanilla extract
Maple sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 12 count cupcake pans, or line them with cupcake liners.
Beat the sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs together at medium speed until they are light in color, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices, being careful not to over mix. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and Maple Wine with a spoon until just combined.
Scoop batter into the greased/lined cups so they are 2/3 full. You may not fill all the cups; remove the liners of the unused cups. Bake for 20-30 minutes (this will depend on the efficiency of your oven, so keep an eye on it) or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, Maple Wine, vanilla, and ¾ of the confectioners sugar together at medium speed until smooth and silky. Taste the icing; if it is too thin or not sweet enough, add the rest of the sugar. Fill a ziplock bag with half the icing, and cut of the very tip off one of the corners. Frost the cupcakes by gently squeezing the icing through the tip of the bag. Sprinkle the frosted cupcakes with a little maple sugar.
Serve any time of day, preferably with our Maple Wine, which you have conveniently left over from this recipe 🙂