These Maple Cupcakes with Strawberry Fluff Frosting are filled with maple pastry cream to taste just like a warm stack of pancakes. Strawberry fluff buttercream frosting finishes off these indulgent cupcakes.
True story; I wanted cupcakes and pancakes for dessert the other night. I had planned to make a cake sweetened and flavored with maple syrup, so I decided to take that plan and turn it into cupcakes. I took all of the ingredients in pancakes and adjusted them slightly to make a cupcake batter. The result was a super-moist and pancake flavored cupcake. That could be because of the stick of melted butter or the combination of baking soda and buttermilk. Whatever the reason, I’m so thankful for baking science to produce such wonderful maple pancake cupcakes!
The Cupcake Filling
Now, you can’t have pancakes with some creamy melted butter on top along with fresh strawberries. So I kicked it up a notch. A thick and creamy maple syrup pastry cream is nestled snuggly inside the middle of the cupcakes. Even though it’s not melted butter, I would argue it may be better. Have no fear though, there is butter in the pastry cream, so I think it checks the box! 🙂
The Cupcake Frosting
Adorning the top is one of the best frostings I think I have ever had. No joke. While I do like buttercream frostings, I wanted a frosting that would be bright and carry the flavor of fresh strawberries. I have discovered freeze-dried fruit as the perfect substitution for fresh fruit. The flavor of the fruit is intensified with the freeze-drying process, and you do not have to worry about the moisture of the fruit altering the texture of the frosting.
To make this frosting even more indulgent, it is a marshmallow cream and buttercream combination. The marshmallow gives it a light and fluffy texture and the buttercream helps to keep the frosting sturdy, along with the classic buttercream flavor.
Making the Cupcakes
What I love about cupcake batters is you can make it in one bowl by mixing all of the liquid ingredients in the measuring cup you use. The recipe instructs to use two separate bowls for wet and dry ingredients, but if you are looking to cut back on the dirty dishes, give it a try!
Timing all of the components does take some pre-planning. If you prefer not to make any of the components ahead of time, below is my recommendation. This way, you can be ready to serve maple pancake cupcakes in about an hour and a half.
- Read the entire recipe and instructions first.
- Make the cupcakes first. This is the fastest component of the recipe when it comes to preparing. This also gives you time to make the pastry cream and frosting while the cupcakes are baking and cooling.
- Make the pastry cream second. Start it while the cupcakes are baking. The pastry cream from start to finish should take about 12-15 minutes; the same time it takes to bake the cupcakes. Then it needs to chill for at least an hour to cool and thicken even more. Enter, time to make the frosting.
- Make the frosting last. It doesn’t need to chill, so by the time the cupcakes and pastry cream are cool, you can start frosting the cupcakes.
If you would like to make some things ahead of time, the pastry cream and frosting last in the fridge up to 5 days. Too long and the pastry cream may start to liquify.
The mini-pancake on top really drives home that you are about to enjoy a cupcake that tastes like an awesome breakfast! My recommendation for the pancake is do not over-complicate it. I used a ready-made pancake mix and you will want to make the smallest serving possible. Unless you want to make extras for the next morning. 🙂 There is no rule on the size and I made mine about 2-inches round.
Now that we’ve covered all of that, I want to tell you what I say in just about every post – have fun with the recipe! Get creative with your frosting and decorations, and prepare to be indulged with yummy breakfast flavors!
Maple Pancake with Strawberry Fluff Frosting
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Maple Pastry Cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees and adjust oven rack to middle position. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the maple syrup, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Add the liquid ingredients and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and gently mix until no dry streaks remain. Using a spoon or a small ice cream scoop (or cookie scoop), evenly distribute the batter to the muffin cups – filling each about 2/3 full.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Maple Pastry Cream
- While the cupcakes are baking, make the pastry cream.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and 3/4 cup of the milk over medium-high heat until the liquid begins to simmer and bubbles around the edges of the pan.
- While the milk is heating, in a medium mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and very slowly stream in about half of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This tempers the eggs and whisking constantly makes sure the eggs do not scramble.
- Pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium-high heat. Cook the pastry cream until it thickens and begins to bubble – about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste and butter and stir until the butter melts.
- Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer set over a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap set directly on top of the pastry cream, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Strawberry Fluff Buttercream
- In a blender or food processor, grind the freeze-dried strawberries with the powdered sugar and pulse until the strawberries turn to powder. This will only take a few seconds. Set aside.
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is smooth – about 3-5 minutes. Slowly add in the strawberry powder and milk, and mix until incorporated and smooth.
- Add in the marshmallow cream and mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined and homogenous – about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the frosting to a small bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Assembling the Cupcakes
- Once the cupcakes and pastry cream are cool, carve out small holes in the center of the cupcake using a paring knife, about 1/2-inch wide and mid-way down.
- Fill a piping bag with the end snipped off, with the pastry cream. Pipe into the cupcake holes.
- Fill another piping bag fitted with a large round tip, with the frosting. Pipe into a circle onto each cupcake. You can also frost the cupcakes using an offset spatula.
- Optional – if you want to add the mini-pancake decoration on the top. Make pancakes using a ready-made mix, according to the box instructions. Making 2-inch round pancakes, and add the pancake on top of the cupcake, then frost.