So, I'm not a cupcake person.
It's not for not trying - I've had some famous cupcakes, even. Just not my thing. So when the brainstorm hit - cheese, butter, pasta, and Tabasco, all wrapped up in a neat little party-worthy package, I was stoked, to say the least. Had I finally come up with a cupcake for all those vanilla-haters out there?
I did some recipe hunting, to no avail - aside from a corn muffin topped with cheddar frosting, and some lazy make-some-mac-n-cheese-n-pour-it-in-a-muffin-tin ideas, I didn't see what I was looking for: a cupcake-textured pastry full of cheese and pasta, topped by hot sauce. As a nod to those that prefer a sweeter 'cake (these were for a party, after all), I topped some with apple butter. Almost as good, but I couldn't deny the deliciousness of hot sauce and mac 'n cheese.
Mac 'n Cheese Cupcakes
makes 15-18 cupcakes
1 pound sharp, orange Cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 box Kraft Classic Mac 'n Cheese
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup mustard, whole grain
Paper cupcake liners
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Do not add or prepare sauce.
Preheat the oven to 350f. Line your tins with paper liners. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour it into a bowl to cool. Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl, including the dry cheese mix from the Kraft box. Mix the eggs, milk, mustard, and mayo into the melted butter, whisking till smooth. While stirring, mix your dry ingredients into your butter mixture until well incorporated. Fold in pasta and shredded cheese.
Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling them almost to the top (these will puff quite a bit during baking, but will deflate as they cool). Bake for 20 minutes, remove from trays to cool.
Tabasco Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup Tabasco hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
In a stand mixer or bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add half the Tabasco and salt, then sour cream, and taste. If it's not hot enough, add the remaining hot sauce. Continue stirring until everything is incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.
If your cupcakes are cool, get out your icing gear (or be like me, fill a ziplock, and cut a tiny piece off one corner). Pipe a small amount of icing onto each 'cake, as the frosting is pretty saucy.
Apple Butter - this was tasty and sweet all by itself, made for nice contrast - we didn't try both at once.
Minced Jalapeno - I used homemade pickled jalapenos, and it was delicious, albeit SPICY
Cheddar popcorn seasoning - ya, I admit, I had some around.
La Yucateco hot sauce, green and red - this stuff is chock-full of all kinds of food coloring, so it's the perfect savory, spicy icing.