Mini cupcakes. With birch syrup and brown butter in the batter and buttercream. 30 mini cupcakes, to be exact. For my birthday. Which is today! Let’s just say I’m leaving the mid-forties range in six months. I don’t quite believe it yet.
The primary reason I made these is that whenever I’ve made more traditional birthday cakes for myself in the past, I’ve always made stupid mistakes that ruined the cakes, such as not adding the sugar, or beating the flour too much, or taking it out of the oven too soon. This has happened about 3 or 4 times that I didn’t want to risk it this year. So if this didn’t turn out, I could just…pretend it never happened? Ha!
The other reason why I wanted to make just a small sample size of mini cupcakes is that I wasn’t sure how it would taste, or if I would even like it. But in the end, I think it works well. The brown butter complements the syrup, but if you don’t do the brown butter part, I’m sure it would be good, too.
Birch syrup is not found anywhere in regular retail stores in the Seattle area, but I’m in love with it. The taste and the smell of it! I don’t have a strong sense of smell, but certain unique scents trigger distinct memories, even when they aren’t from my past. For birch syrup, obviously this was not something I’ve had while growing up in Guam, but the smell reminds me of the movie theaters I used to go to as a kid, which smelled very strongly of candy and popcorn scents in the theaters. It has a very sweet, syrupy and slightly burnt smell, reminiscent of those places.
You can substitute maple syrup if you can’t get birch, but if you do that, don’t skip the brown butter part.
I feel like birch syrup should be something available in Seattle, since we are the Pacific Northwest, but I guess it’s more of a northern and Canadian thing, and it tends to be a very spendy item. Plus it’s not as sweet as maple syrup, and requires 100 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon, whereas maple only requires 40 gallons. I bought two 8 ounce bottles at about 20 dollars each. I’m crazy, right?
Since I made these cookies, I decided that I wanted to experiment more with it. Plus March and April are the prime times to buy it because that’s the time of year when places harvest and make birch syrup.
Anyways, it went smoothly, and I was able to follow the recipe without making any errors. Yaya! Hope you enjoy! Happy Birthday to me! ;P
Brown Butter Birch Syrup Cupcakes with Birch Buttercream (based on this recipe from Tom Douglas)
8 ounces unsalted butter, made into brown butter and cooled until solidified, divided for the batter and buttercream
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons birch syrup
1/4 cup milk
birch buttercream (recipe below)
After making the brown butter, place in the refrigerator until soliified, which can take several hours. If you can’t wait that long, make an ice bath by using two glass bowls with ice water in the bigger bowl, and placing the brown butter liquid and stir with a spatula until it solidifies. This takes about 10-15 minutes. Keep stirring.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. (350 degrees for stanard cupcake size or 9 -inch round cake pan). Line mini cupcake pan. About 30 minicupcakes, or alternatively, one 9-inch round cake pan. Or 12 standard cupcake pan. Set aside.
Whisk together into a bowl the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Cream 4 ounces of the solidified brown butter with the sugar. Reserve the other 4 ounces for the buttercream (recipe below)
Add the egg and blend. Add the vanilla and birch syrup.
With the flour and the milk, alternate adding between the two. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Using a 1 tablespoon ice-cream scoop, place one tablespoon of the batter into each of the molds. You should have about 30 mini cupcakes.
Place in center rack of oven and watch carefully. You don’t want to open the oven in the first 10 minutes, but you don’t want to burn them, and ovens vary, so…
I took mine out at 19 minutes! But ovens vary, so anywhere from 12-20 minutes, I estimate.
Cool and frost with the buttercream.
For birch buttercream:
1/2 cup (4 ounces) of brown butter, solidified
1 cup powdered or confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons birch syrup
method: Blend all in a bowl with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth and place in a piping bag, if desired, for ease, but you can frost however way you’d like.