Sunday, March 25, 2012

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

The idea for these cupcakes arose from the fact that my husband wanted to make homemade cinnamon extract and I wanted to find an excuse to try it out. I thought about a cupcake flavour where I would want just a hint of cinnamon - French toast cupcakes! French toast is my favourite brunch food. If I make it at home, I usually add vanilla extract, and a little ground cinnamon to the egg mixture. I typically use a non-stick pan but I still coat the pan with a little butter for flavour.

For these cupcakes, I used my favourite vanilla cake recipe but I reduced the vanilla extract and added butter flavouring. For the cinnamon flavour, I used 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon extract (for a batch of 12 cupcakes). After tasting the batter, I found that it wasn't quite enough cinnamon. Aesthetics-wise, I think that I also like the speckled nature of ground cinnamon in a batter, therefore I also added about 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

For the frosting, I made a basic confectioner's sugar-based frosting with vanilla extract and added maple syrup and maple extract to taste. I have found in the past that I don't quite like the flavour of maple extract in icing versus using real maple syrup, however this has been for maple swiss meringue buttercream. With a sugary frosting, it is so sweet that you can get a stronger maple flavour without adding even more sweetness by using an extract. The syrup almost gets lost in all of the confectioner's sugar. For swiss meringue buttercream, I would go all maple syrup.

The cupcakes are garnished with a toast-shaped cookie crouton made from sugar cookies coated in a melted butter, sugar and cinnamon mixture. I used a basic sugar cookie recipe from Martha Stewart. The dough was quite easy to work with. I used half of the dough and placed the other half in the freezer for later use. I cut out little toast shapes from the dough and baked them as directed. I ended up with quite a lot of little 'toasts' which ended up being very good because I couldn't stop snacking on them! It got even worse once I 'croutonized' them. To make them into little french toast cookie croutons, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter of low heat, added 2 heaping teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. I whisked this mixture over low heat until it was well combined and poured it into a small glass bowl. I threw in the cooled toast-shaped sugar cookies (what was left of them) and tossed them until well coated. I spread these on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and put them in the oven (300°F) for 15 minutes until crisp.

My overall review of this French toast cupcake experiment is that I would pair the cupcake with a maple swiss meringue buttercream instead of frosting. I feel that the maple gets lost in the sugary nature of frosting. I love the cookie croutons. Those are definitely a keeper. I've posted the recipes below for your own French toast experimentation.

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

Yield: 12 standard cupcakes

French Toast Cupcakes (adapted from Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Cupcakes):
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavouring
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon extract (or increase the ground cinnamon above to 1/4 teaspoon)

Maple Frosting (adapted from Wilton's Vanilla Frosting):
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or increase maple extract to taste)
1 tablespoon water (can add more depending on desired consistency)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line one 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine flours and cinnamon and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. 
  4. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk, vanilla, butter flavouring and cinnamon extract (if using) beginning and ending with flour until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean. 
  1. In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening together until fluffy. 
  2. Add vanilla and maple extracts and mix until combined.
  3. Add the icing sugar gradually and mix on low speed until smooth.
  4. Add maple syrup (if using) and mix on low until combined.
  5. Add water to thin to desired consistency.
  6. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes or spread onto cupcakes with a small offset spatula.


  1. Okay, I would have cheated and used the "french toast crunch" cereal to decorate the cupcakes... it sounds much less dangerous!