“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

Marzipan is always a winner for me. Ruby admits elsewhere in the cookbook that she is guilty of eating marzipan as a snack. I do the same thing. There’s nothing like the solid hit of almond and sugar to keep me going when I’m dragging.

These were delicious and easy. But I do think calling them cupcakes is a bit of a misnomer. To me, cupcakes are a perfect cake at the bottom (which this is) featuring a pillow of icing on the top (which this doesn’t). This is more like a lemon and marzipan muffin. Whenever I gave these to friends after I made them, I would ask, “But don’t you think this needs some icing?” since they’re called cupcakes. But everyone said, no, they were perfect as they were.

I have to agree. If you added icing on top of this, it would be a bit much. Ruby does advise that you can make a lemon drizzle for the top, which I might try next time, as it would make them less like a muffin and more like a cupcake.

I still wouldn’t call them cupcakes, though. I would call them delicious, however.

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

“Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes” from “John Whaite Bakes at Home”

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Maureen: I was excited to make these for you. As an American, I always felt it was my patriotic duty to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for you. Now we have peanut butter and jelly cucpakes! What do you think?

Andrew (14): They’re…. [pause to select adjective] interesting.

Maureen: Good interesting or bad interesting?

Andrew: I’m not sure.

Maureen: I’m surprised you’d say that, since you’re a PB&J veteran and you love them.

Nicholas (10): I think there’s too much peanut butter.

Andrew: I agree. I was trying to nail down what it was that I wasn’t sure about, and that’s it.

Nicholas: There’s too much peanut butter in it, and not enough jelly. They’d be really good if you made the balance equal.

Maureen: Or, alternatively, make the cupcake chocolate rather than peanut butter flavoured, and then put a little chocolate in the middle of the icing, just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Andrew: If you balanced out the peanut butter and jelly, they would be good.

Maureen: How many stars would you give it?

Andrew: 3 stars.

Nicholas: 2.99999 recurring. You can put a line over the last nine, and then people would know it’s recurring.

Maureen: I don’t have that symbol on my keyboard, but thanks for the tip.

The recipe for this can be found by clicking through this sentence, but be sure to replace the Stork called for in the recipe with butter. Everything is better with butter.

“Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes” from “John Whaite Bakes at Home”

“Cookies & Cream Cupcakes” from “The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home”

Pre-baking discussion:

Nicholas (10): These are going to be EPIC.

Maureen: We’ll see about that. I think I might prefer the salted caramel cupcakes, but maybe that’s just me.

NIcholas: I think everyone is going to love these. I’m going to call them my C + C Cupcakes.

Maureen: Catchy name. I have to say that the instructions for these cupcakes are absolute rubbish. They could not be more vague. They say we need double chocolate cookies, like Oreos, but don’t say if they are with or without the cream filling. They also say we could make our double chocolate cookies. As if.

Nicholas: Maybe I should run to Sainsbury’s and buy their big double chocolate chip cookies?

Maureen: Good idea. We can use those for the cookies.

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Post-Baking Discussion:

Maureen: What do you think?

Nicholas: Just as I predicted: EPIC!

Maureen: They’re interesting, I’ll grant you that. You realise, of course, that these are just chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing with cookies stirred into both?

Nicholas: If you want to be technical about it, yes, I know that. But they’re still great.

Maureen: The instructions are still rubbish, but they are good. They’re a little too sweet for me, but that’s me.

Nicholas: I disagree. They’re perfect. Yum.

“Cookies & Cream Cupcakes” from “The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home”

“Salted Caramel Cupcakes” from “The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home”

Do you want to make this? Go on. They are amazing. The recipe can be found on Red Online by clicking through this link.

Maureen: These are outrageously good.

Tim: Agreed.

Maureen: My obsession with all things caramel really started when we went to Normandy for Easter. I loved how there were different pots of caramel nearly everywhere we went. Yum.

Tim: We managed to bring a fair few of those pots back with us.

Maureen: I know. I’m hoarding them because they’re so good. Since I never had made this recipe before, I didn’t want to use one of the special Normandy caramel pots for it, so I used just bog-standard tinned caramel for it instead.

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Tim: It’s not bad caramel, but it’s not as good as the French stuff.

Maureen: Yes, you’re right. But now that I know this recipe works and is good, I’ll use the good French stuff next time.

Tim: You might want to stick with the regular caramel that we can source here, if you’re going to bake it into the cupcakes and save the good stuff when we’re just spreading it on to bread.

Maureen: I have to say this recipe was a bit of a faff, given that you have to make the cupcakes, core the cupcakes, add caramel inside, make the frosting and then apply the frosting. But the results are worth it. These are delicious.

Andrew (13): I like how when you bite into them, you get a mouthful of caramel. It’s like a caramel surprise.

Maureen: Yes, I like that too. This is not your typical cupcake.

“Salted Caramel Cupcakes” from “The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home”

“Red Velvet Cupcakes” from “How Easy Is That?”

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! If you would like to make some for your Valentine, click through this sentence for the recipe, which is a good one.

Nicholas (9): This icing is amazing.

Andrew (13): There’s a good ratio of cupcake to icing on this.

Maureen: That’s important. Too much cake with too little icing and it’s not really sweet enough. Too much icing with too little cake and it’s overly sweet. You have to get it just right.

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Andrew: This one is just right.

Maureen: Are they red enough for you?

Nicholas: No! They’re not at all red. Just as I predicted when we were making them.

Maureen: This is a perennial problem with red velvet cupcakes. Since they’re chocolate cupcakes, you have to add A LOT of red food colouring to get them red. The reddest ones I ever made were from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, but I think I added two full bottles of red food colouring to get the hue.

Tim: They might not be red, but they’re very nice.

Maureen: This was a good recipe for red velvet cupcakes. It was very easy, and the icing was good too. It’s definitely a keeper, even if they aren’t red enough.

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See? Pink here, not at all red or pink once baked. Red is a tricky food colouring though. The secret, if you’re really determined to have a red cupcake, is to use red paste food colouring. Then it would be red enough.

“Red Velvet Cupcakes” from “How Easy Is That?”

“Cookies and Cream Cupcakes” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

This recipe was a special request from Nicholas, to make for his 9th birthday party. I’m sorry to deviate from our usual format. Frankly, though, if I were to record the conversation of Nicholas and his friends at cake time during the party, there would be *a lot* of discussion about films, superheroes, football and other subjects and no discussion of cake. So this is my recap of the recipe.

The boys LOVED it. The adults liked it more than we thought we would, but it still wouldn’t be a firm favourite. They did look pretty, though.

The chocolate cupcake itself was fine. However, the recipe itself was a bit of a faff, involving multiple bowls, the separation of eggs and the beating of egg whites. The chocolate cupcake recipe that I usually do, which doesn’t involve any of those things, is just as good and not nearly as big a hassle.

Also, to file under “forewarned is forearmed” because you’re beating egg whites to add some structure to the cake itself, I did find that they collapsed on themselves once they cooled down a bit. This could have been operator error, and they still tasted fine, but certainly it’s not a good look.

Finally, a word on the icing. This is not a traditional buttercream icing. You are, in fact, making the American delicacy called “Fluff” (it seemed to me), which is ultra sweet, sort of fluffy and also readily available to buy on Ocado. The good news for me is if for some reason I can’t find it, I’ll know how to make it, which is important to anyone who wants to make Whoopie Pies, as it’s used for the filling.

But as a cupcake icing, I have to say I wasn’t convinced. I think a buttercream icing works better for a cupcake. It wasn’t terrible, I just think there’s better options.

So in summary: the sun shone for our party, the boys liked the cupcakes, and a wonderful day was had by all. But I probably won’t be making these again.

“Cookies and Cream Cupcakes” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”