sweet corn cupcakes with browned butter frosting

August 15, 2010 at 9:54 pm 3 comments

Corn Cupcakes 3

My brother and I have our birthdays within a week of each other. This year, for possibly the first time in 23 years, my mom decided that we weren’t both getting our own separate birthday cakes. Whether this brilliant notion hit her for the first time this year, or perhaps this was the first year my brother and I were simultaneously mature enough to not make a fuss about it (obviously this is the right answer, but I’d rather blame it on mom’s sudden stroke of genius if I can get away with it), she did it by scrapping tradition (chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake, in my case – I’ll share that with you eventually) and going with something completely new and a little bit…well…weird. At least until I tasted them. My mom is an amazing cook.

Corn cupcakes. Go with me. These are light and summery, thanks in part to the corn, and in part to the hint of lemon in the frosting. The frosting is mostly butter, so that should defeat the lightness, but I promise you that you’re going to want to smear this stuff on everything. I would love to try it on gingerbread, and I expect that, come winter, I will. Brace yourselves.

Corn Cupcakes 2

After consuming my fair share of these in April, I knew I was going to have to make them myself once corn season rolled around. I had ridiculously bad luck buying corn at the farmer’s market. Bad luck as in every ear was quickly being converted into sand by tiny black insects. Yuck. Oddly enough, I had better luck at the grocery store, and the cupcakes were quickly made. And quickly devoured.

My favorite moment in sharing these was when a colleague stopped in my office doorway and asked me what kind of cupcakes they were. When I told her they were fresh corn cupcakes, she said, “I knew it! Very sneaky…” So go ahead, sneak some corn into your kids.

Sweet corn cupcakes

Adapted from Amanda Gold of the San Francisco Chronicle.

For those of you new to browning butter, it’s easy. You just heat the butter in a saucepan over low to medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the milk solids separate out and turn a golden brown. It will smell nutty. One stick of butter yields about 3 ounces of browned butter, which is what the recipe calls for.

  • 1  1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • browned butter frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Brown the butter for the frosting (see below) in a saucepan and move it to the fridge to chill.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set it aside. In a blender, puree the sour cream and fresh corn until reasonably smooth. With an electric mixer (if using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and the sour cream and corn mixture. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, scraping down the sides between each batch. Mix only until incorporated (don’t over-mix).

Pour the batter into the cupcake tin until each is about 3/4 full. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, until the tops spring back when pressed and a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Browned butter frosting

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 ounces browned butter (see headnote), cooled and softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt (coarsely ground sea salt is especially good in this)
  • 1  1/2 cups powdered sugar

Using a mixer (if a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment), cream the two butters and the honey until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt, mixing until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar in small batches, scraping down the sides occasionally, until just incorporated. Turn up the mixer to high speed and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.


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zucchini pie summer squash and corn chowder

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. annette  |  August 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    these happened because you were having your birthday dinner together.. and 3 people and 2 cakes was ridiculous!

    I’ve rethunk (rethinked? rethought! ) the gingerbread thing and and am leaning more towards something dark and spicey and raisiny.. sorta like a hermit cookie in moist tender cupcake form, for going underneath this amazing frosting.

  • 2. MentalPatient  |  August 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    This reminded me, I’ll send you a recipe for carrot cake sometime. It’s an excellent recipe my sister found. Mmmmm.

    • 3. erin  |  September 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

      I’m a major fan of carrot cake, so please do 🙂


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