It seems that I write about this nearly every year. The classic Honey Cake for Rosh Hashana don’t get no respect. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of cakes. For my non-Jewish friends, it’s not unlike the Christmas Fruitcake in that you kind of have to have one – it’s traditional – but no one wants to eat it.
Over the years, I have given you my favorite honey cake recipes that actually taste good. They’re moist and fragrant with honey and spices – a treat I always look forward to on our New Year table. Here’s one. Here’s another one. Here’s one made with agave, if those are too sweet for you (*Bonus* – this post also contains my favorite Round Challah recipe!). Here’s one made with pumpkin, for pity’s sake, no sugar, no oil, and sweetened only with honey. You can’t say that I haven’t tried! But I can’t leave it alone. One more attempt to bring the oh-so-delicious-but-much-maligned Honey Cake into the 21st Century: The Cupcake.
I know. I don’t make cupcakes. Or frosting. Okay, exactly once before. That I’ve told you about. But I was inspired, people! I’ve taken one of my favorite recipes and made it a bit lighter in texture and flavor. And I think, a little bit healthier, using coconut oil and almond milk instead of the vegetable oil and coffee that I generally use for the full-sized cakes. Not that I’m abandoning my traditional honey cake, mind you, but I believe that you need to shake things up a bit, every so often. And when is it better to try something new, than a New Year?
Of course, they’re non-dairy – yes, even the frosting! – so they’ll make the perfect finish for your Rosh Hashana dinner, or for the lactose-intolerant. You can make these cupcakes ahead and freeze them in heavy duty zip-top freezer bags, but don’t make the frosting or frost them until the same day as you plan to serve them.
Honey Spice Cupcakes with Honey Meringue Frosting
(Yields about 16 regular-sized cupcakes)
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. table salt (or fine sea salt)
- 2-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
- 3/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup honey (preferably local to you)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup plain almond milk
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place cupcake liners into muffin or cupcake pan(s) and set aside.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and spice) in a medium bowl. Set aside
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), beat the coconut oil on high speed for about one minute. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, and add the sugar, followed by the honey, then the eggs, and finally the almond milk, beating thoroughly after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Turning the mixer to low speed, add the flour mixture a little at a time, until the dry ingredients are completely moistened (or you’re reasonably sure that it’s not going to fly out of the bowl at you). Mix on medium-high, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, for an additional two minutes, or the batter is completely smooth.
Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 with the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are springy to the touch and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the center of one of the “middle” cupcakes, comes out clean and dry.
Cool completely before frosting.
* I used Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice. I don’t usually use commercial pre-mixed spice blends, but in this case it contains exactly what I would put in my honey cake, anyway, and is pretty fresh this time of year. If you don’t have or don’t want to use pumpkin pie spice, substitute: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon + 1 tsp. ground ginger + 1/2 tsp ground cardamom + 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp. ground cloves.
For the Honey Meringue Frosting:
This is going to make about 5 cups of frosting, which will be more than you need.
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- pinch of table salt
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Decor and/or toasted almond slivers or slices for garnish – optional.
Make the Frosting:
Put about 2 inches of water in a medium pot, bring to a simmer.
Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, honey, cream of tartar, and salt, in a medium glass or metal mixing bowl. If possible, use the bowl from your stand mixer (if you have one).
Place the bowl onto the pot of simmering water – don’t allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.
Whisk the egg white mixture briskly over the simmering water, until it becomes hot to the touch.
Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Place the bowl onto the mixer and beat on medium speed for one minute. Turn up the speed to high and beat for an additional 5 minutes, or until very stiff peaks form when you lift out the whisk. Add the almond extract and beat on high for an additional one minute. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use an electric hand mixer.
Scrape the frosting into a piping bag fitted with whatever tip you like. Or, if you’re like me, a gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag. Snip off one of the corners and pipe the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes.
Garnish with candy confetti, toasted slivered or sliced almonds, as you wish.
My husband found these elegant, disposable, bake-safe, dessert wrappers at the Container Store, awhile back, and I couldn’t resist using a few of them here for kind of a classy take on cupcakes. I thought it would be fun to set these special holiday honey cupcakes up in several different sorts of wrappers so you could see how they might go from fun for the kids to elegant for the adults.