As a proud Ottawa native, I grew up with two beloved winter traditions: skating on the Rideau Canal and indulging in warm, delicious beavertails. There’s something truly special about gliding along the frozen waterway and then warming up with a piping hot, fried, sugar-coated pastry. When I moved to Kitchener I realized that this was a truly Ottawa experience… while you can totally get Beavertails nation-wide, they are not nearly as popular outside of the capital. That’s why I decided to combine two of my favourite things by creating beavertail-inspired cupcakes. With a cinnamon sugar cake base, a tangy lemon cream cheese frosting, and crispy cinnamon sugar topping, these cupcakes are a tribute to my childhood memories and a delicious way to bring a taste of Ottawa to any dessert table.
For those who may not be familiar, Beavertails are a type of fried pastry, named for their distinctive shape resembling a beaver’s tail. Originating from Killaloe, Ontario, Beavertails have gained widespread popularity as a beloved Canadian treat. The dough is stretched out and fried to perfection so that it’s crispy on the outside, but inside it’s all fluffy and soft. To top it off, they’re generously sprinkled with the classic combination of cinnamon and sugar. They now offer a range of flavours and toppings, catering to various preferences. They range from fairly tame options like Nutella and maple syrup to some more unique variations like garlic butter and cheese.
I am a purist, and my heart belongs to the classic Killaloe Sunrise flavour. It’s a simple yet perfect combination of cinnamon sugar, enhanced by a fresh squeeze of lemon. This delightful twist adds a tangy zest that elevates the sweetness to a whole new level. I think I’ve only ever tried one other flavour one time, and then I immediately went back to my roots. To capture its essence in cupcake form, I chose a moist and fluffy cinnamon sugar cupcake base, paired with a lemon cream cheese frosting inspired by the lemon slice traditionally served with the Killaloe. The combination of warm cinnamon and sweet sugar, paired with the refreshing lemon, creates a delightful and balanced flavour experience that pays true homage to the iconic Killaloe sunrise.
One of the things that makes Beavertails so special to me is the delightful mix of textures they offer. The contrast between the fluffy and pillowy pastry and the crisp and crunchy exterior creates a truly satisfying experience. When translating this into cupcake form, I wanted to capture that same textural interplay. The cupcakes themselves boast a tender and moist crumb, reminiscent of the soft and fluffy parts of a beavertail. But, I also really wanted to recreate that beloved crispness that comes from the beavertail’s outer layer. That’s why I decided to introduce a crispy cinnamon topping. Sprinkling it generously over the creamy frosting adds a delightful crunch with each bite, giving the cupcakes that coveted mix of textures that I just absolutely adore.
Quick tip: it’s best to add the crispy cinnamon topping to the cupcakes just before serving to maintain its crunchiness. Adding it too far in advance can result in the topping becoming soggy when in contact with the cream cheese frosting. So, for that perfect crunch, sprinkle the topping right before digging in!
Here’s a short video showing how I decorated these lil guys:
Killaloe Sunrise Beavertail Cupcakes
Cinnamon Sugar Cupcakes:
- 150 grams flour approx 1 ¼ cups
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 100 grams white sugar approx ½ cup
- 55 grams brown sugar approx ¼ cup
- 85 grams butter softened
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk or ¼ cup Greek yogurt + ½ cup oat milk
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup butter softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 whole lemon
Crispy Cinnamon Topping:
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined after each addition.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about two-thirds full.
- Mix the 2 teaspoons of white sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the cupcake batter.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool in the muffin tin for a few minutes. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the crispy cinnamon topping. In a small bowl, combine the white sugar and ground cinnamon. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until it resembles wet sand. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Once cooled, break the topping into small crumbles.
- In the meantime, prepare the lemon cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Beat until well combined and creamy.
- Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost them with the lemon cream cheese frosting.
- Just before serving, top the cupcakes with some fresh lemon zest and a sprinkle of the prepared crispy cinnamon topping.
- Enjoy your delicious Killaloe Sunrise-inspired cupcakes with their fluffy texture, zesty lemon cream cheese frosting, and crunchy cinnamon topping.
- Storage: Store the frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Best served at room temperature: While the cupcakes can be stored in the refrigerator, they are best enjoyed when brought to room temperature before serving. Allowing the cupcakes to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to 1 hour will bring out their flavors and ensure a softer texture.
- Make-ahead tip: If you need to prepare the cupcakes in advance, you can bake the cupcakes and store them unfrosted in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Frost the cupcakes and add the crispy cinnamon topping just before serving for optimal freshness.