The southern litmus test: If you’re drooling right now, you must have spent some time in your life below the Mason-Dixon line.
Chicken and waffles (yes, served together) is a southern tradition. And let me tell you, if you want to get your hands on some of the world’s best chicken and waffles, here in Atlanta is the place.
I wanted to pay an homage to this salty-meets-sweet southern dish the best way I know how—with cupcakes.
So here you have it. A waffle-inspired yellow buttermilk cupcake topped with maple syrup buttercream frosting and a mini helping of chicken and waffles.
And just in case that whole deal doesn’t sound amazing enough, let me tell you what else is special about these guys: Each cupcake is infused with a shot of straight-up maple syrup right in the center.
Why? Because I’m just like Buddy the Elf. I try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
I completed my cupcakes with a little help from another Atlanta institution, Chick-fil-A. If you want to fry up your own bite-size bits of chicken for these ‘cakes, more power to you. But I know that I could never top Chick-fil-A’s nuggets. Plus they’re literally the perfect size.
And if you’re wondering how you eat these, I’ll let you in on a little lesser-known culinary secret: Just bite down. Make sure you wrap your teeth around each layer from top to bottom and take a huge bite of everything at once. It’s not called chicken then waffles, it’s chicken and waffles.
Want to get started on your own chicken and waffles cupcakes? Check out the recipe right here:
Chicken & Waffles Cupcakes
(Cake adapted from Martha Stewart, with an original frosting recipe, makes 24 cupcakes)
For the buttermilk cakes:
3 cups cake flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup maple syrup
For the maple syrup frosting & topping:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup maple syrup
6 cups powdered sugar
24 waffle pieces
24 chicken nuggets
maple syrup to drizzle
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners.
Sift or whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking power and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium and add the whole eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the egg yolks and beat until thoroughly combined.
Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with two additions of buttermilk. Be sure to mix well after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla extract last.
Pour the batter into liners, filling each cup about three-quarters of the way up. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. Lift them out onto wire racks to cool.
With a food injector, inject roughly one teaspoon of maple syrup into the center of each cooled cupcake.
Make the frosting:
In a small bowl, beat together the butter and syrup until blended. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add just enough maple syrup or milk to thin out the consistency.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes by piping a ring of frosting onto each. With a toothpick or wooden pick, skewer a chicken nugget and waffle piece together, then slide the pick into the top of the cupcake. Drizzle the top with a bit of maple syrup.