Sweet Honey Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Caramelized Figs

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It's been a while. Again. I've been sick for what seems like a month. And just when I start feeling better it seems like I've got something else. Then there's the work thing... and the holidays. Yep, I'm pretty much maxed out. I wish there were more hours in the day, that I could sleep a little more and that I didn't have so much to do. We're in Florida now visiting Stephen's family, and that has seemed to help ease the stress of things, but somehow I just haven't managed to find time to blog (until now). And you know what? I'm ok with that. When I first started taking blogging seriously I was set on a 3 post week. I was really good at sticking to that. Now, well, you can tell that I've been slacking off. Not really, because like you, I do have a life. There are more important things than blogging for me to do during the day. The events of last Friday have really put that in perspective for me. I want to spend the little time I do have with my family and enjoy Christmas. There are so many wonderful things to do and see- I'd much rather be out there than on here. Do you know what I mean? With that said, I'm sharing this cupcake recipe with you today. It's one that I made back in October for a contest and people really seemed to love it- I hope you will too! The mild flavors of the cake and the frosting are really appealing to me. The natural sweetness of the honey paired with the mascarpone cheese is absolutely divine! Since figs are usually easy to find during fall and winter, I thought they'd be perfect to caramelize and place on top of these cupcakes. If you're not a fan of figs, try pear slices or even apples, I think they'd be just as tasty! I hope you don't mind that I'm "double-dipping," but this was a quick and easy recipe for me to share with you all- enjoy!

Honey Cupcakes
Ingredients
1 ¼ c. cake flour
½ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. honey
½ c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3  c. sour cream
2/3 c. whole milk
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the mascarpone frosting:
1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone cheese
½ c. heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the caramelized figs:
¼ c. granulated sugar
8 ripe and sweet figs (mission or turkey), cut in half 

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with 16 liners, set aside.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add honey, butter, sour cream, vanilla extract and vanilla bean. Mix for 1 minute.
4. Add one egg at a time, mixing after each addition. With mixing speed on low, alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the milk. Beat until just combined.
5. Divide batter and fill cupcake liners ⅔ of the way full.
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (note: they will not turn golden brown, so do not over bake).
7. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool in tins for 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.
9. With mixing speed on low, begin to beat the mixture. Gradually turn the speed up until it reaches a medium-high speed. Beat mixture for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks begin to form (keep an eye on it while it is beating, you do not want the mixture to curdle). Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
10. To prepare figs, dip the cut side of each fig into the granulated sugar. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize each fig (this will take approximately 1 minute). Place a cut fig on the top of each cupcake.
Stephen + Natalie | Makes 16 standard size cupcakes


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