Horchata Cupcakes

The Friday before Cinco de Mayo this year, I stopped by a local cupcake shop to pick up a few cupcakes for dessert that evening. They did not have any of our regular favorites, but they did have a new flavor to celebrate Cinco de Mayo — Horchata cupcakes. After eating some crispy black bean tacos, we each broke into our cupcakes. Although the flavor of the cupcakes was enjoyable, we agreed that they were too sweet. Inspired by these cupcakes, I decided to venture out and make my own, less sweet version of horchata cupcakes.

I wavered between making horchata, a rice and milk based beverage flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, so I could use actual horchata in the cupcakes, or focusing on the key flavors of horchata and weaving those flavors into different elements on the cupcakes. I finally settled on the latter. I opted to use rice milk in the cupcake recipe instead of soaking rice in water with cinnamon overnight and adding milk and vanilla, as is traditionally done when making horchata. I incorporated the vanilla and cinnamon into both the cake and the frosting.

Ingredients to capture the flavors of horchata
Basic Horchata Flavors

To make the cake portion of my horchata cupcakes, you need the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used double-strength)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper baking cups. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt) together in a mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the room temperature butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla extract. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, slowly mix in the rice milk. Pour the cupcake batter into the baking cups, filling them about 3/4 full, and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until they are a golden color and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cupcake. This recipe makes 12 regular-sized cupcakes, but there is usually enough batter left to make a few mini-cupcakes as well (bake the mini-cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes).

Mixing rice milk into the cupcake batter
Using rice milk captures the flavor of horchata without having to soak rice in water overnight

For the horchata frosting, you need:

  • 1 pound confectioners sugar (1 box)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting the cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 block), softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used double strength)

Sift the confectioners sugar and the cinnamon together into a mixing bowl. Blend in the room temperature butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and mix until the frosting is smooth.

Cinnamon and vanilla frosting for the horchata cupcakes
Cinnamon and vanilla frosting for the horchata cupcakes

Top the cupcakes with the frosting and give the cupcakes a light dusting of ground cinnamon. Serve and enjoy. Buen provecho!

Horchata Cupcakes
Horchata Cupcakes