Last Friday was Val's birthday, and I wanted to make her some cupcakes to celebrate. Last year, I made her lemon daisy cakes, so I wanted some fresh flavour inspiration this year.
Recently, I added Peggy Porschen's Cupcakes to my burgeoning cookbook library, and flicked through that hoping to land on the perfect cupcakes for Val. My efforts were rewarded when I landed on Peggy's Cosmo Cupcakes recipe, inspired by the Cosmopolitan cocktail. You can also find the recipe online here (I made a half recipe to get 12 cupcakes). The Cosmopolitan always reminds me of Sex and the City, so I figured the Cosmo Cupcakes were spot on for Val.
Like the cocktail, Peggy's Cosmo Cupcakes are a cranberry and orange flavour combination, with the cranberry coming from dried cranberries and the orange coming from Cointreau and orange zest:
Peggy wanted you to soak the cranberries in Cointreau overnight, but I didn't have that time, so I put the cranberries and Cointreau in a small saucepan and simmered the mixture until the cranberries had soaked up the Cointreau.
Instead of just adding the orange zest to the batter and mixing, I rubbed the orange zest into the sugar before mixing to maximise the orange flavour.
Also, I mixed my cranberries through the batter instead of just sprinkling them on top of the cupcakes, to ensure that the cranberries were distributed throughout the cakes instead of just resting on top.
Peggy tells you to make orange and Cointreau syrup to bump up the flavour by brushing the syrup on the hot cakes before frosting. I skipped this step - it was not necessary, in my view.
Note that a half recipe barely made 12 cupcakes, so don't be over-generous when scooping out the batter otherwise you will fall short.
To decorate the cupcakes, I eschewed Peggy's cream cheese frosting and instead opted for my favourite Primrose Bakery buttercream, flavoured with orange juice instead of vanilla and tinted a peachy shade of orange with one drop of red and two drops of yellow liquid food colouring. I piped the frosting on to the cupcakes in a rose pattern because I hate too much icing (which is what the "Mr Whippy" piping effect gives).
In keeping with the cranberries and orange theme, I made pink fondant flowers to decorate the tops of the cakes using this mould, and secured a single white sugar pearl in the centre of each flower using a little water brushed onto the fondant.
Once the cupcakes were all done, I boxed them up in my last cupcake box and gave them to Val for her birthday.
I can't vouch for the flavour of these as I didn't taste them, but I received emails from people in Val's team at work and a Facebook message from Val that they were (and I quote), "YUM!" I'll take that as a win.
Aren't cupcakes pretty? I don't care what they say about the demise of the cupcake - I'll take one of these little beauties over a galumphing great cronut any day.