When life gives you rain, make cupcakes. Well, maybe the saying doesn’t go quite like that, but it is exactly what’s happening today. So put on warm pajamas and a comfy robe, turn on your favorite tunes, and start a hot pot of coffee, because you have earned this. It’s been four weeks since you committed to those New Year’s resolutions, and it’s time to take a well-deserved break from that Whole-Paleo-Whatever diet you’ve been trying and reward yourself with some delicious cake. This isn’t just any ordinary dessert: this cake is here to make all your sweet dreams come true. So turn off the tv, put down your phone, and start preheating your oven—these horchata cupcakes are here to ease your mind, soothe your soul, and satisfy your mouth.
Horchata is a refreshing Mexican beverage made with rice milk, cinnamon and vanilla. It goes perfectly with tacos and burritos, and eases the heat from salsas and spicy peppers. We imagine these cupcakes have similar healing properties as horchata since they are made with essentially the same ingredients, and we didn’t leave our kitchen until they tasted exactly like the real thing. And our persistence paid off. The silky buttercream frosting is blended with vanilla, lots of cinnamon, and a few drops of almond extract for an authentic finishing touch. Resting on the softest vanilla cupcake, and using a real vanilla bean and extract for deep vanilla flavor, these cupcakes are so light, you’ll have to eat them before they fly away.
You will be pleased to know how easy it is to make these festive treats. You mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another, combine the two, then bake in the oven. The frosting is simple too, as everything is quickly blended together in one bowl. Call your friends, because in less than an hour this is one fiesta they will not want to miss.
makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 2/3 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup (177ml) water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 of a vanilla bean
For the frosting:
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups (454g) powdered sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus a few pinches for sprinkling at the end
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cupcake cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and melted butter, stirring to combine. Add the egg whites, water, and vanilla extract. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Whisk until evenly blended, then add the flour mixture, stirring until combined and the batter is smooth. Divide the batter among the 12 paper cups, filling each one about 3/4 full. One way to make this process easier is to first pour the batter into a large measuring cup with a spout, giving you more control. Once the pan is filled, bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Pour the powdered sugar into the bowl through a sifter or fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Begin blending with the mixer, slowly at first so the sugar does not go flying everywhere. Once it is beginning to combine, add the water, vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt, and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Once the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them generously with the horchata frosting, using a piping bag if desired, dividing the frosting evenly between the 12 cupcakes. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of cinnamon, then serve and enjoy!
— These cupcakes will stay fresh at room temperature or in the fridge for several days. If refrigerating, allow to come to room temperature before serving to improve the flavor.
— For the piping, we used a Wilton 1M open star tip, but feel free to decorate how you like. You can also scoop frosting into a zip-top bag, seal up the top, snip off one corner, and use that as makeshift piping bag if needed.