A Thanksgiving Cupcake

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By Stefani Pollack

Everyone expects to see cranberry sauce and turkey at the Thanksgiving meal, but won’t they be surprised to find it back on the table for dessert?  Before you balk at the idea of turkey in a dessert, consider other savory and sweet combinations that work: honey-glazed ham, duck with cherry sauce, and bacon with just about anything. 

These cupcakes are baked directly in slices of turkey – no cupcake liners are needed!  When baked, the turkey slices get hard and chewy and become a perfect shell for the small cakes.  The cupcakes themselves are loaded with cranberries and they are topped with a decadent maple buttercream frosting.  For extra maple flavor and an elegant look, the cupcakes may be dusted with maple sugar. 

Turkey Cranberry Cupcakes
Makes about 18 cupcakes

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cranberry sauce
1 cup dried cranberries
18 thinly sliced pieces of turkey

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.
3. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
4. Beat eggs, yogurt, and vanilla into the butter/sugar mixture until blended.
5. Mix in cranberry sauce.
6. Fold in flour mixture until just combined.
7. Fold in dried cranberries
8. Place one slice of turkey in each well of the cupcake tin. Often, turkey slices will have small holes in them; make sure that any holes in the slices are not at the bottom or sides of the cupcake tin.
9. Spoon batter into the turkey, as shown in the photo.
10. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you put this recipe into a normal cupcake liner sans turkey, it will bake in about 30 minutes.

Maple Buttercream Frosting
Note: Depending on how fat a swirl you want on your cupcakes, you may need to double this recipe.

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup maple syrup


1. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Mix in maple syrup

Read More From Bake Sale.

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

I agree with Jean of California; I had a similar idea, although not with the wonton or eggroll wrapper.  I just sprayed my muffin tins w/cooking spray, chopped up the turkey and mixed it into the stuffing along with dried cranberries (I like their concentrated flavor better than using cranberry sauce or conserve) and made muffins that way.  To the stuffing-turkey-cranberry mixture, I also included french-cut green beans and diced mushrooms (to get in the green bean casserole.)  As my binder, I used a can of cream of chicken soup, although turkey gravy would work really well too.  The stuffing muffins are delicious as is, but for presentation purposes, a piping of mashed potatoes looks great, especially if you use your kitchen torch to brown the tops & bring out the ridged pattern on the piping.  When making the mashed potato “frosting”, I would add some turkey stock in addition to (or instead of) milk or cream, to give it more of a turkey flavor.  Plus, you can thin your “frosting” by mixing it with a little turkey gravy.

By Karen on October 30, 2010

When I first looked at this, I thought the top was piped mashed potatoes! So I had an idea….
For a woman’s luncheon, why not kick this up a notch!! 
Make the filling a cranberry/cornbread stuffing mixture, Use an egg roll or won ton wrapper for the cupcake liner then put your turkey meat on that,
still keeps the shell on the lighter side but firmer to hold together! You can always make that piped mashed potatoes with sour cream and chives too! You can use the orange flavored cranberries that are available at holiday time at Trader Joe’s in our area. You can even make this in mini
cupcake pans for appetizers.. What do you think???
Omitting the maple buttercream frosting of course!

By Jean on October 19, 2010

The turkey gets tough and chewy.  Doesn’t look very pretty either. 

Paul Deen what were you thinking on this one!

By Apple Princess on September 26, 2010

Hmm…I was hoping these were going to be a dinner cupcake…kind of like Shepherd’s Pie.  I would try with stuffing, cranberry sauce and top it off with sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes.  I like the concept though.  smile

By Julie H on December 03, 2009

This look interesting. At first I think the turkey would make them disgusting but you never know.  Sometimes the craziest combos work well and they look like they would taste good.

By Alicia on November 21, 2009

These are So Very Impressive!

By Ivy on November 16, 2009

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm