Skip to main content



Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: With 50 Decidedly Grown-Up Recipes

Cinnamon Bun

What’s more comforting on a cold, rainy day than a warm, gooey cinnamon bun? Maybe curling up in a soft robe with a nice hot cup of tea, watching bad movies on Lifetime starring Valerie Bertinelli as some sort of woman “scorned.” Or lying on the couch while an entire litter of kittens sleeps peacefully on your chest. Or sitting in front of a fireplace doing crossword puzzles while listening to Sade’s smooth-as-satin voice.

Okay, maybe there are a lot of things more comforting than cinnamon buns, but you know what? You can’t eat kittens or Sade, so there.

The key part to any worthwhile cinnamon bun, in our opinion, is the sticky “goo” that oozes out. So rather than make just a simple cinnamon cake, we dot ours with a cinnamon sugar mixture that sinks to the bottom during baking and oozes out when you unwrap it. There’s no shame in using a knife and fork to eat this one.


Cinnamon Goo

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/ 3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Vanilla Cake

4 large eggs

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1¾ cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

Cinnamon goo (from above)


Cinnamon Streusel

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt


Cinnamon Butterscotch

½ recipe butterscotch

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Cream Cheese Buttercream

One recipe French Buttercream (or American Frosting)

One 8-ounce package cream cheese

¼ teaspoon guar gum (optional)


Cinnamon Goo

Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl until the mixture looks like wet sand. Note that this mixture will not come together all the way—that’s totally normal. Don’t beat yourself up thinking you’re doing something wrong. Set aside.


Vanilla Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 baking cups.

Melt the butter in a microwave at 60% power for 1½ to 2 minutes. Keep the butter warm—do not allow it to sit and cool off.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-low speed for 2 minutes until light yellow and lightly foamy.

Increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Pour the warm butter into the eggs slowly, so that the mixture tempers and the eggs do not scramble. Once the butter is added, reduce the speed to medium-low.

With the mixer running, add the milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix for 1 minute until well combined.

Sift together the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder and add to the batter. Mix on medium until just combined, 10 to 20 seconds. Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer and use the paddle to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, ensuring that everything is well mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared baking cups, filling them two thirds of the way.

Using a teaspoon, mix the cinnamon goo once again to reincorporate the butter and sugar. Place random small dollops of the goo over each unbaked cupcake.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on to bake the streusel.


Cinnamon Streusel

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a clean bowl of the mixer on medium speed until the mixture looks like small pebbles. If the mixture is still too smooth, add more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

Sprinkle the streusel over the baking sheet, making sure there are no large clumps.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan once, until golden brown.


Cinnamon Butterscotch


12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter

1¼ cups brown sugar (we use light, but dark is fine too)

1 teaspoon corn syrup

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)


Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, over low to medium heat.

When the butter is melted, immediately dump in all the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt and increase the heat to medium-high. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture near constantly, making sure you get into those corners so there’s nothing hiding, just waiting to burn and ruin all your hard work.

We’re going to keep cooking and stirring this for about 5 minutes, and we’re going to be judging our next move based on sight. Initially, the sugar mixture will look like wet sand.  In a few moments, it’s going to start looking like molten lava, bubbling up and spitting at you. This is good! Just don’t forget to keep stirring! Shortly, it’s going to stop looking like lava and stop feeling heavy like wet sand. This means the sugar is melting and we’re ready to add the cream.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and, standing back a bit so you don’t burn your face off, slowly pour in all the cream. Slowly stir with your wooden spoon (corners! Don’t forget!), making sure all the sugar mix gets incorporated with the cream.

Turn the heat to low and return your pan to the stove. Replace your trusty wooden spoon with a sturdy wire whisk (well done, spoon). Simmer the butterscotch for 8 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl, and stir continuously for 1 minute off the heat. Add the vanilla and bourbon, if using, and continue to stir until well combined. When it is cool enough to the touch, taste the butterscotch for seasoning and add more salt, vanilla, or bourbon to taste

You’ll need only half of it for this recipe, but feel free to make a full recipe and store the other half in your refrigerator for another use.

Once the butterscotch is cooked, stir in the cinnamon. Set aside to cool.


Cream Cheese Buttercream

For French buttercream:

This is it—the star of the show, the main event, the most important part of our cupcakes—buttercream! (celebrating mime)

As this is French buttercream, this is tres, tres serious. You will pay attention, follow along, and execute these directions! C’est Sérieux!


You need:

5 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 cups guar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons corn syrup

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 ½ lb cold butter—preferably European


Now let’s do this! Oeil du tigre, bítchés!

In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, add water, then add sugar, corn syrup, & cream of tartar. The last 2 help keep the sugar from crystallizing. (Candy thermometer. Non-negotiable!)

Put the pot on high heat. It’s going to be there for a while. Be patient and keep your eye on it. Don’t go walking away & watching TV or something.

Put yolks & eggs in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment & turn to high. (WEEE!!!) Just let it go! Eggs will triple in volume & go to “ribbons stage.” You can’t overwhip!

Wait on the sugar—looking for 235 degrees, aka “soft ball.” When it happens, be ready to move quickly. Turn off the mixer & add xanthan gum, turn to medium. Remove the thermometer from hot sugar. Lift with two hands.

Rest the lip of the saucepan on the edge of the mixer bowl. Slowly tilt & pour sugar in a sloooow steady stream down the side of the bowl. Don’t go too fast! If you do there will be chunks of scrambled eggs in your buttercream.

Once sugar is all in, turn the mixer to high. (WEEE!!! [AGAIN!]) Beat til cool. Gauge this by putting the inside of your wrist to the outside of the bowl. It’s more accurate than your hands.

Switch out the whisk for the paddle. Next we’re adding the butter. It’s too heavy for the whisk and you’ll end up breaking your stand mixer if you stay with the whisk.

Start cutting the butter into thin pieces—you could shave it with a cheese slicer if you’d like. Add butter piece by piece—pain in the derriere, yes, but we’re making an emulsion.

See, if you dump all the butter in at once, the butter & eggs will never combine properly, & you’ll have a “broken” buttercream. You’ll be able to identify this easily—it’ll be a chunky, watery, hot mess.

If your buttercream does break, you can fix it! Turn to medium-high, then add a little more butter, piece by piece, til fixed. Or try adding a little guar gum! This is very strong, so add a pinch & beat for a minute, then check.

Once your butter is added, turn the mixer to med/high to add some air—ten, twenty seconds at most. Quelle Magnifique! It should be fluffy & make you want to eat it with your fingers.

Once you have your base, there’s so many ways to flavor it! Coffee powder! Vanilla beans! Dutch cocoa! Peanut butter! Caramel! Ham! *Ok, maybe not ham. Party pooper.

Congratulations! You did it! You made French buttercream! You are a god amongst men!

Once completed, add the cream cheese and beat on high until well incorporated. If the cream cheese is particularly liquidy, it could cause the buttercream to “break.” If that happens, add the guar gum and continue beating on high for 2 minutes until the mixture comes back together.



Fill a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip with the cream cheese buttercream and pipe onto each vanilla cupcake.

Sprinkle the streusel crumbs over each cupcake.

Using a teaspoon, drizzle the cinnamon butterscotch over each cupcake.

Half-Assed Corner

Skip the cinnamon streusel and used crushed cinnamon-flavored cereal instead.

Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: With 50 Decidedly Grown-Up Recipes
by by Allison and Matt Robicelli

  • Genres: Cookbooks, Food, Nonfiction
  • hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books Studio
  • ISBN-10: 0670785873
  • ISBN-13: 9780670785872