If you follow me on Twitter, you may have recently noticed the cupcake jokes flowing between myself and Ben of You fed a baby chili? He has lukewarm feelings towards cupcakes, and my contention is that they're overrated. I will never pay four dollars for a normal-sized cupcake no matter how many positive Yelp reviews the bakery gets. A normal-sized slice of cake? Maybe. Which brings me to my other point: just give me a damn slice of cake already. Anyway, I was running around Twitter, dissing Ben's love of SPAM, when I fatefully mentioned SPAM cupcakes. He issued a challenge. If I created SPAM cupcakes and managed to land them on Foodbuzz's Top 9, he would toss up a pro-cupcake post on his blog. I don't back down from a challenge.
Let me first start by saying that I had never touched, smelled or tasted SPAM prior to yesterday evening. My first impression was that it smelled like canned tuna. And then Megan started eating chunks of it off the block. Gross. I knew I needed to slice the stuff up so I could candy it on the stove, but I was still pretty afraid of touching it. I'm a very tactile person, okay? Fork in hand, I stabbed the SPAM and began slicing it like a turkey as Megan continued to pop stolen pieces in her mouth. I am also going to admit that I also used the fork to throw slices in the frying pan, and refused to actually touch the SPAM until it was candied and crispy. And I only did it then because I had to dice it up into SPAM-o Bits. Look how pretty it turned out.
I have affectionately named these beauties Pumpkin Spice SPAM-fetti Doughnut Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. The pumpkin spice doughnut cake base is adapted from the doughnut muffin recipe found in The Jimtown Store Cookbook. I, however, take issue with the name of these "muffins"--they're based on cake doughnuts, not muffin doughnuts. Thus, I have rectified the misnomer and have renamed them cupcakes. The cupcakes are slightly denser than the norm, and littered in Funfetti fashion with pieces of candied SPAM. They are then topped with frosting, a dusting of cinnamon sugar, and finally sprinkled with a little more SPAM. One person said they taste like Fall, while another said they taste like breakfast--pumpkin pancakes, with whipped cream and maple syrup and a side of breakfast meat. I'm inclined to say that I made breakfast-in-a-bite cupcakes, 'cause that's just cooler.
By the way, I have to admit that the SPAM, once candied, was not particularly offensive. Megan said it kind of tasted like teriyaki beef jerky, while I think it just kind of tasted like candied ham. Ben claims it's #thenewbacon. I'm not yet sold on that idea, so I wrapped my cupcakes in skull and crossbones wrappers to denote that people should use caution when consuming.
You should proceed with caution as well.
Pumpkin Spice SPAM-fetti Doughnut Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
4 dozen mini cupcakes / 2 dozen regular cupcakes
6 cups all-purpose flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups + 2 Tbsp. whole milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
|Candied SPAM |
1 large can o' SPAM
1/3 cup brown sugar
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. maple extract (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F.
1. Slice entirety of SPAM thinly. Heat frying pan to medium. In batches, place SPAM in pan and sprinkle with some of the brown sugar, taking care to drop sugar on each slice. When brown, flip and push around in the grease/sugar droppings. When crispy and brown on both sides, move to a plate. Be careful not to burn the SPAM.
2. When SPAM slices are cooled, chop into fine pieces. If SPAM needs to be crispier, return to frying pan and finish off. Set aside 1/3 cup of SPAM-o Bits for topping at the end.
3. For the cupcakes, in the bowl of a mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add one egg at a time, mixing only as necessary. Add pumpkin puree in same manner, trying not to over-beat.
4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix buttermilk and milk together. Via hand with a wooden spoon, starting with flour mixture, mix in 1/4 flour and then 1/3 milk. Repeat three more times, ending with flour. Mix in the rest of the SPAM, which should amount to approximately a cup.
5. Grease or line a muffin tin, filling cups about half way up. For mini cupcakes, bake for 10 minutes until a tester comes out clean. For regular cupcakes, bake for 20-25 minutes. The tops of the cupcakes will look moist and dimpled and perhaps undone--as long as the tester comes out clean they are done. Do not overcook. Set on a rack to cool.
6. For frosting, whip together cream cheese and butter. Slowly add sugar, whipping on high. Add maple syrup near the end, beating until fluffy. If the maple flavor isn't enough for you, try the extract.
7. Frost your cupcakes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and add a few chopped bits of candied SPAM.