Cheering for the Underdog

Cupcakes have fallen from grace this past year, going from star of the show to loathsome backup singer. It’s an unfair change in the program, and although they may have been overplayed a bit, cupcakes still deserve a spot on the dessert hierarchy. Maybe not at the top, or near the top, but they should make a good showing somewhere. For now, at least, I’m happy to place them squarely in my mouth.

Quick and easy to make, cute as a button, and only a small caloric investment in comparison to a full slice of cake, their winning features strike me as an ideal reason to keep the cupcake craze going strong, especially for Thanksgiving. Pie is of course traditional and required as well, but consider keeping an arsenal of bite-sized mini cupcakes on the side. Perfect to cap off a belly-busting meal with just a little morsel of sweetness, or tide over ravenous guests when the full feast is taking longer to cook than expected, these tiny desserts make up for their diminutive size in versatility. Almost any flavor can be paired with the epic Thanksgiving dinner, from the classic chocolate or vanilla to more experimental combinations, but it seems a shame to ignore all of the seasonal produce that his event is meant to celebrate.

Pomegranate and cranberry share some of the same tart, astringent qualities, which makes them a match made in the oven if you ask me. Neither of these ingredients tend to get fair play in my family’s menu, so I felt it necessary to give them a fair shake at Thanksgiving greatness this year. Plus, small batch means a minimal investment in both time and money, two elements typically stretched to their limits around this time. With just a pinch more patience, you could effortlessly convert the recipe into full sized cupcakes too- Simply double the recipe, and divide the batter between 12 – 14 standard muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake for closer to 16 – 22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The cupcake certainly doesn’t need to be the star of Thanksgiving, but I think it should still be invited to the party!

Pom-Berry Mini Cupcakes

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
Pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Dried Pomegranate Arils
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cranberry Juice, or 100% Pomegranate Cranberry Juice
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Batch Fluffy Vegan Vanilla Buttercream
Fresh Cranberries and Mint Leaves for Garnish (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line about 12 mini cupcake tins with paper liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt until well distributed. Add in the dried pomegranate arils, and toss to coat with the dry goods, to prevent them from sinking to the bottoms of the cupcakes.

Separately, combine the juice, oil, vinegar, and vanilla before pouring the wet mixture into the dry. Stir just until the batter comes together and is mostly smooth; A few lumps are just fine.

Scoop about 2 – 3 teaspoons of batter into each mini cupcake paper, or enough to fill them up about 2/3 of the way to the top of the liner. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Allow the baked cupcakes to rest in the pans for at least 5 – 10 more minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting and decorating as desired.

Makes About 12 Mini Cupcakes

Printable Recipe

19 thoughts on “Cheering for the Underdog

  1. How cute! And certainly a nice change from the usual thanksgiving fare. They haven’t waned in popularity one bit here. Not yet anyway.

  2. Cranberries are great in baking! I love that they don’t make for super sweet treats and also that they are a little drier so they don’t make baked goods overly moist like blueberries or something might. These are mighty cute and I just bought my first pomegranate today! Maybe the trend will continue…

  3. I’m a cupcake fan, through and through. These look wonderful and I would be happy to have them on my dessert table at Thanksgiving!

  4. I absolutely refuse to believe that cupcakes are anything but marvelous! They are my favorite baked good to make and eat. Cranberries and pomegranates are my two favorite fall fruits and I know they must be heavenly together in these cupcakes!

  5. The only cupcakes I’ve ever truly liked were my late grandma’s “little cakes”, which were a simple vanilla cake topped with either a thin white, pink, or chocolate icing – the kind made with icing sugar mixed with a little water. The American-style kind with the towers of frosting never did it for me. That said, when you talk of tart flavours, mini sizes, and a modest flourish or frosting…. I think I’m in :)

  6. I love cupcakes…it is easy to control what you eat, I mean the amount that you eat :-)
    Like the idea of pomegranate and cranberries, like the tartness of it…your cupcakes are so cute nicely decorated.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week Hannah :-)

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