Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

It seems like there are a few different ways to approach Valentine’s Day. There’s the moodily-lit, glossy magazine ad version of the day, which seems to paint women as these precious little gift-obsessed lunatics, who will throw all of your worldly possessions out of a second-story window if you don’t deliver precisely the correct combination of “De Beers tennis bracelet” and “breakfast in Paris.” There’s the saccharine-sweet Hallmark-endorsed version of the day, which insists that unless you fill a room with Mylar balloons (a gift really only appropriate for hospitalized children), a gilt-framed, faux sepia-toned photograph of yourself, and a giant stuffed polar bear holding a heart which reads “Hugs Fur You.” There’s the hilariously-inept version of Valentine’s Day that I saw several television advertisements for this year, which seems to suggest that a heart-shaped box of grey, chalky Russell Stover chocolate from Rite Aid and a half-grunted “Hey, every day is Valentine’s Day, for us” is a suitable way to mark the occasion.

We’ve always tried not to place too much emphasis on the more superficial aspects of the day, forgoing presents over the years and instead trying to create a memory together. These experiences have varied wildly over the years, usually directly corresponding to our financial solvency at the time. Sometimes celebrating Valentine’s Day has meant weekend trips to New Orleans; other times, local romantic dinners out together, or even dried, glittered macaroni glued to a giant cardboard heart. This year, with a newborn baby in the house, we are celebrating even more simply. We tend to lean more toward the grammar school-style, cut out paper heart-version of Valentine’s Day, and allow ourselves to revel in its hokey sweetness.

These cupcakes are the perfect embodiment of that style. Rather than wringing our hands over an overwrought, Raspberry Chocolate Silk Martini Souffle that falls all over itself trying to be seductive, these cupcakes are simple and sweet. Innocent, even. They’re a handmade Valentine stuffed into a shoebox with your name written on it. They recount a childlike infatuation, in cupcake form. And in our case, they even feature Jillian’s favorite cereal, which she pretends is Kashi GoLean Honey Almond Flax, but is really Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes
Adapted from recipes from Bon Appetit and Your Cup of Cake; Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Buttercream:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 regular package), room temperature
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder (see note)
  • Additional crushed and whole cereal pieces, to garnish

Method:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm milk and butter until butter melts, and set aside.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix eggs, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla extract until thick, about 5 minutes.

Add the flour mixture and stir until blended, then add milk and butter mixture. Stir until combined.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Fill each cupcake liner approximately 3/4 full, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Buttercream:

Crush approximately one cup of cereal using a rolling pin, and sift into a bowl. Repeat as needed, setting aside the bigger bits left in the sifter, until you have 1/3 of a cup of very fine Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder.

Mix cream cheese and butter in standing mixer until very smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder, and mix until incorporated. Taste for sweetness, and add more powdered sugar as needed.

Frost cooled cupcakes, and sprinkle with the larger leftover bits of cereal that you sifted out. Garnish with a whole piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

8 Comments

  1. You had me at Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Gotta think this is a great way to use the “cereal dust” that comes in the bottom of the box.

    But really, this says it all: “This year, with a newborn baby in the house, we are celebrating even more simply. We tend to lean more toward the grammar school-style, cut out paper heart-version of Valentine’s Day, and allow ourselves to revel in its hokey sweetness.”

    How on earth do you two still manage all this cooking with the new baby?

    View Comment
    1. Thanks Adam. Cooking is really the LEAST we can do; we used to try and hit at least two restaurants per week, but this little girl has put a bit of a crimp in our dining out schedule. 🙂

      View Comment
  2. Hey, my favorite cereal is Cinnamon Toast Crunch! I like to pretend it’s bran flakes or something, but I’m being honest here to show some solidarity. I’ve banned them from the house because whenever I buy a box it inevitably ends with me sitting on the kitchen floor, covered in cinnamon sugar, staring guiltily into an empty box while my husband sighs, “Really? Again? Why do you keep buying it?” These cupcakes are over the top awesome – combining two of the most nostalgic and comforting foods into one amazing supercuppy. The only catch is that this recipe doesn’t use the whole box…which means I’ll have to finish the box on my own….

    View Comment
    1. You’d be surprised how close this recipe comes to using the whole box, when you factor in “standing in the kitchen in the middle of the night cramming fistfuls of dry cereal into your mouth.” 🙂

      View Comment
      1. True – and you have to do the “taste test” to make sure the cereal is okay, you know? That there’s nothing wrong with it. It usually takes me a few bowls before I can say with confidence that the cereal is up to par. I don’t know what it is about Cinnamon Toast Crunch – it flips a switch in my brain!

        View Comment
  3. To Jessica, you have me sitting in front of my laptop laughing! I know how you feel – well, maybe not exactly, but VERY well said. I have a perfect image of a cereal-dusted girl in the kitchen floor w/ an empty box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch! Hilarious!

    To Jillian and Malcolm, How do you two look so fit in your picture with these recipies!!??!! HA! This sounds like a PERFECT Saturday project with all of the kids. You guys are amazing! You have a new fan! 🙂

    View Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.