Exploring California Part 7: Mount Diablo + Rosemary Cupcakes with Honey-Brown Butter Frosting

We’ve been doing local hikes in the South and North Bay recently, but for our anniversary hike, Tyler and I decide to venture to the other side, the East Bay, and head toward Mount Diablo. It sits tall at 3,849ft above the ground in Mount Diablo State Park. We hiked to the North Peak via the Summit Trail, which is slightly shorter than the tallest peak but still a pretty tough hike given that there isn’t much shade and it’s a lot of up and down with a final…very steep up to the top.

So the hike — basic details:

Length: 4ish miles
Time: Depends on how fast you hike, we did 3.5-4 hours but we stopped for lunch up at the top for a bit and stopped to take a lot of pictures.
Pets: Nope
Trail Running: Lots of trail runners
What I recommend bringing: Snack/lunch, 3L of water per person, I finished mine, but then again I’m drinking water for two. Broad-rimmed hat, and sun glasses. It can get waaaarm.

You start by going entering the park and going up a pretty twisty road to devil’s elbow trailhead. The website says that the gates open at around 8AM, which is a little bizarre considering how hot it gets and ideally you’d start your hike wicked early and end around 10 AM. Anyways, we got their at 8:01 and the gates were open…so I suspect they open earlier, but be warned, it says 8AM. The road up is quite beautiful, I recommend stopping a long the way to take some pictures if you can. Remember that you’ll be sharing the road with a lot of mountain bikers.

The trail head is the North Peak trail, there’s parking on the side of the road (there’s a pull out). Getting there was pretty, a lot of little ups and downs, which will seem like nothing when you get to the end of the trail when you have to go up to the peak. What I think is the steepest climb (or one of the steepest at least) climbs I’ve ever done, you hit a relatively short, but very steep climb up to the summit (500ft in a short distance). But the views, the views areworth it. You can see all across the east bay and it’s unbelievable.

Oh! You can also camp there which would make hiking earlier in the morning easier. Anyways, a very worthwhile hike.

When you come back, you can enjoy these lovely cupcakes as a calorie booster! Recently Tyler told me he didn’t looooove my all in one cupcake mix which is super easy but doesn’t have the “light and fluffy cake texture” to quote my husband.

I was indignant but I have to begrudgingly admit that he’s right. The all in one method tastes good but he’s right, they’re quick and easy and are all about the fillings and frosting and look…and can be a little grainy. So I set out to make very light, very fluffy cupcakes, and I’m happy to say it worked. I was inspired by being outside and all the trees I saw on our hike, so I went for Rosemary-Yogurt Cupcakes with a Honey-Brown Butter Frosting. The frosting…not too sweet, which I love. You’re hit immediately that brown butter flavor and the honey comes in after. The cake was so light and fluffy, and with a subtle earthy-rosemary flavor running throughout. Very happy with how these turned out!


Rosemary Cupcakes 200g cake flour 0.75 tsp baking powder 0.25 tsp baking soda 0.5 tsp salt 115 g butter (salted or unsalted, I use salted generally), room temp 200g plain white sugar 3 egg whites 200g whole milk yogurt 3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped


Preheat your oven to 335F, line a cupcake tin with liners or spray them well.

Mix together the rosemary, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Then using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the butter for about 1 minute on high speed until it’s a little paler in color, and fluffier. Then add in the sugar, and beat for about 2 minutes until butter and sugar are light and fluffy. Add in the egg white, and beat for 2 minutes. Here you’ll get a white, slightly fluffier mixture that has grown in volume. Add in the yogurt and mix together. Then using a spatula, mix in your dry ingredient, being sure not to over-mix (you want to keep some of the volume and air in mixture). Scoop your mixture evenly into 12 cupcake liners. Bake for around 17-20 minutes. Check with a tooth pick that your cupcakes are done in the middle. Pull them out and let them cool on a wire rack.

Brown-Butter Honey Frosting
180g butter, browned, cooled in the fridge until solid but soft
125 powdered sugar, sifted
0.25 cups honey
Pinch of salt
[/recipe ingredients]


Make the brown butter ahead of time (I made it first actually) so it has time to cool. In a stand mixer, put in all the softened brown butter, and add in half the powdered sugar. Start slow, then add in the rest of it. Then turn the mixer on high, add in the salt, and honey. Here’s where the art of baking, basically if you want the frosting stiffer, add more powdered sugar. If you want more of honey flavor, add more honey. Mine was medium-stiff, and I can pipe it.

Then top as you see fit!

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