Kid-friendly Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

Recipe: Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Yulia Davidovich/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
20 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

You might be wondering what Cupcakes have to do with Outer Space, our theme for this recipe. Well, we’ve never really explored Space in Sticky Fingers before, and, as we found out, once you start finding ways to connect cooking skills and recipe names with Space terminology, it’s really hard to stop! We had a blast naming this recipe.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • swirl :

    to create a swirl design by lightly stirring a food with a toothpick, or other cooking or eating utensil, in a circular or other pattern.

  • toast :

    to brown and crisp food in a heated skillet or oven, or in a toaster.

  • wet vs dry :

    to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them: dry ingredients are flours, leavening agents, salt, and spices; wet ingredients are those that dissolve or can be dissolved (sugar, eggs, butter, oils, honey, vanilla, milk, and juices).

  • whip :

    to beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and produce volume.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Muffin pan
  • Paper cupcake liners (optional)
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Toothpicks or fork for swirling


Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free flour + increase milk and sugar—more info below)**
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub oil + increase baking powder—more info below)**
  • 1/2 C whole milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C + 2 to 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

Food Allergen Substitutions

Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

  • Gluten/Wheat: For 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour, substitute 1 1/4 C gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour + increase milk to 1 C + increase sugar to 3/4 C. Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1/4 C oil + increase baking powder to 1 T.
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk for whole milk.


Cosmic Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

preheat + measure + mix + whisk

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Into a large mixing bowl, measure and add 1 1/4 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix together! In a separate mixing bowl, crack 1 egg and whisk it. Then add 1/2 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup oil to the beaten egg, and whisk!

combine + stir + grease + scoop + swirl

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently stir to combine, careful not to overmix. Grease a muffin pan (or line with paper cupcake liners) and scoop batter into the wells (fill them about halfway). Make the Cinnamon Swirl (next step) and add a teaspoon of the mixture to the middle of each unbaked cupcake, then use a toothpick or tines of a fork to swirl it into the batter.

cinnamon swirl + bake

In a small mixing bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 2 to 3 tablespoons oil. Add a teaspoon of this mixture to the top of each cupcake before baking, then swirl with a toothpick or tines of a fork to create a “galaxy” design. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Drizzle with Dreamy Glaze and Asteroid Cinnamon Crunch (see recipes)! They're out of this world!

Surprise Ingredient: Cinnamon!

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Photo by Geshas/

Hi!  I’m Cinnamon!

"Did you know that I'm a spice that comes from the inner bark of certain trees?! You can add me to both sweet and savory foods. Recipes generally call for ground cinnamon, but you can also use cinnamon sticks, dried strips of my bark that curl into a tube shape, to flavor apple cider, stews, curries, and more. Just don't forget to remove the stick before serving! And, what's more, I can make your kitchen and home smell wonderful!"


  • Some people say the best kind of cinnamon, referred to as the "true cinnamon" and called Ceylon, is native to an island southeast of India called Sri Lanka. It has a more subtle flavor than other types. The most common cinnamon in use today, though, is derived from Cassia, which originated in China.   
  • Cinnamon is an ancient spice. It was imported to Egypt in about 2000 BCE. The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon together with myrrh to embalm the dead. They considered cinnamon to be more valuable than gold!  

Anatomy & Etymology 

  • Cinnamon is the inner bark of some tree species of the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon trees can grow about 60 feet tall.
  • Cinnamon farmers begin to harvest cinnamon when the tree reaches two years old. They cut the tree back so that shoots form from the stump. After one more year, the farmers strip the outer bark from the shoots and set the peels out to dry in the sun.
  • When the bark dries, it curls into "quills," which are the sticks that are cut and sold as cinnamon sticks. They can also be ground into powdered cinnamon, which is how much of the cinnamon we see is sold in stores. So, what do a porcupine and a cinnamon tree have in common? They both grow quills!
  • The word "cinnamon" comes from late Middle English derived from the Old French form, "cinnamome," from the Greek "kinnamon." The Greek was borrowed from a Phoenician word, which was similar to the related Hebrew word "qinnāmōn."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Cinnamon is harvested twice a year, immediately after the rainy season. The humidity in the air makes the bark peel more easily.
  • The bark is typically peeled by hand by skilled peelers.
  • The quality of cinnamon is judged by the thickness of the bark, the appearance of the quills (broken or whole), the aroma, and the flavor. 
  • Cinnamon is a spice used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. For example, it may be added to desserts, chocolate, toast (in cinnamon sugar), fruit (especially apples), roasted veggies, soups, tea, and hot cocoa. It's also good in savory dishes like Bavarian pot roast, Moroccan chicken, and Indian curry. 


  • It is best to eat cinnamon in small doses in its ground form, sprinkling it on top of food or adding a small teaspoon to food. Eating too much cinnamon could cause adverse health effects.
  • Cinnamon has one of the most recognizable scents. Its pungent, spicy smell is due to the chemical called "cinnamaldehyde." This chemical is considered an antioxidant that has some anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • Cinnamon is believed to regulate the sugar in our blood and possibly lower cholesterol; however, study findings aren't clear.
  • Cinnamon oil can keep mosquitoes away! It kills mosquito larvae and probably repels adult mosquitoes, too. 


History of Cinnamon Rolls!

Photo by Nina Lishchuk/
  • A cinnamon roll (also called a bun or swirl) is a pastry usually made from a yeasted, proofed (risen) dough rolled out into a rectangular shape, spread with butter, and then sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Other ingredients, like raisins, can also be added. The dough is rolled into a log, cut into slices, risen again, and baked in the oven. 
  • There seems to be an agreement on where cinnamon rolls originated, in Sweden, where they're called, "kanelbulle," but no consensus on when they were first created. The rolls in one Swedish district are 12 inches or more in diameter, for one person! 
  • The cinnamon roll even has its own day: October 4!
  • The cinnamon bun is a Swedish invention that became popular in the United States in the 1950s. That’s why they're sold in large quantities at IKEA, the Swedish megastore. 
  • In North America, cream cheese icing is a popular topping, but Swedes top their rolls with pearl sugar (pieces of compressed sugar crystals that won't dissolve into the baked good).

Let's Learn About Outer Space!

Photo by Rido/
  • The Solar System is more than just planets and moons. There is one sun, eight planets, several mini planets, 166 moons (that we know of), and hundreds to thousands of asteroids, comets, dust, and gas!  
  • A galaxy is a collection of solar systems, including planets, moons, asteroids, and comets that circle a star. Our spiral-shaped galaxy is called the Milky Way. How many stars do you think are a part of the Milky Way? About 100 billion!
  • Light takes 100,000 years to cross from one side of the Milky Way to the other. So some of the stars you can see now might not even exist anymore. Their light just took so long to get to us that we are actually looking into the past!  
  • We can't see the center of the Milky Way because clouds of gas and dust block it. We call this center a Black Hole. When stars run out of energy, black holes form. 
  • A star becomes a supernova when it becomes extremely bright before imploding, its center collapsing under its own weight. It loses small parts of itself in the explosion, from which new stars form. This is a way for stars to recycle themselves.
  • Stars are made of gas and dust. They come in many different colors, but we can't see these colors from Earth. This is because starlight takes from a hundred to a million years to reach Earth.
  • The sun is the closest star to Earth, and our sun is considered an average-sized star. So, guess how many Earths could fit inside the sun? One million!
  • The Andromeda Galaxy is the next closest galaxy to the Milky Way, and it is about two million light-years away! 
  • Our solar system contains eight planets. How many can you name? They are (in order from their distance from the sun): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Pluto used to be considered one of our solar system's planets but was assigned the status of "dwarf planet" in 2006 because it doesn't fly inside its own orbit. Instead, it shares its orbit with several other flying objects, and it also passes inside Neptune's orbit.
  • How old do you think the solar system is? It's 4.6 billion years old! 
  • For years, we believed that Earth was the only planet with running water. But recently, we've discovered that Mars also contains water!
  • Any guess as to which planet is the hottest? Since Venus is the closest to the sun, it is the hottest planet in the solar system at 842 degrees F! 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Outer Space?

  • We haven't met any kids from outer space yet, but when we do, we'll definitely let you know!

That's Berry Funny

What kind of music do planets sing? 


That's Berry Funny

I named my dog Cinnamon!

He's a lot of bark!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the sun go to school? 

To get brighter!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do planets like to read? 

Comet books!

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