These gems are the first cupcakes that I ever made a) in my life and b) when we were all settled down in London after the big move. I baked for quite a bit before moving to London, but having a kitchen of my own and a competent oven made me want to try out all sorts of recipes. My baking frenzy started after making these cupcakes because they look cute, taste yummy and are great ways to entertain when we host dinner parties. I also have a willing and self-sacrificial husband who is always happy to lend his tastebuds to all my (edible and inedible) creations. Bless him.
I took the recipe off a website that I can’t quite remember now, and tweaked it to make it work in my kitchen. If you love cheesecakes, these are a great way to have portions of it with mmmmmm…frosting! I don’t like my frosting to be too sweet, so the consistency is more spreadable than stiff. If you want to make the cupcakes look a little more well-decorated, you can add more icing sugar to whip the frosting into a stiffer texture, or add strawberries on top if you don’t like your frosting to be too sweet. Tint your frosting with colour of your choice, I chose yellow because I think it appears more edible than garish green or toxic blue!
You will need:
A. For the bottom/cake portion of the cupcake
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup white caster sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I actually used vanilla bean paste which is thicker in consistency and stuffed full of vanilla seeds)
1/2 cup double cream
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Sift flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
3. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl at high speed for 3-4 minutes till mixture doubles in volume and looks pale. Reduce the speed on the mixer and add in vanilla extract and butter.
4. Fold in dry ingredients (sifted in step 1) to egg mixture, followed by double cream till mixture is smooth.
5. Divide batter into 12 equal portions in a cupcake tin lined with baking cases (1 heaped tablespoon per case).
B. For the middle/cheesecake portion of the cupcake
400g Philadelphia full-fat soft cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 cup white caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Beat ingredients together till smooth and thick. Spoon 1 tablespoon onto top of each baking cases (which are now already filled with A).
C. For the top/digestive-crust portion of the cupcake
1. Lightly crush 10 pieces of digestive biscuits. Personally, I fill a ziploc bag up with the biscuits, seal it up and bash my day’s frustrations away with a roller pin. Do it until they resemble finely chopped nuts. Top each cupcake with crushed biscuits.
2. After assembling the 3 layers (A, B, C) of the cupcakes, bake them in the preheated oven for 40 minutes (original recipe says 22-25 minutes but mine turned out to be very undercooked, so test the baking time with your own oven) or until corners are golden and centers are done (insert skewer into the middle of a cupcake, skewer should come out clean). Remove cupcakes from cupcake tin and cool on wire rack completely before frosting.
D. Now the fun part – Frosting!
200g Philadelphia full-fat soft cheese, cold, not softened like in B
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
2 or 2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted twice (I used 2 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Yellow food colouring (colour is up to you)
Small strawberries (optional)
1. Beat cheese and vanilla together until blended.
2. Add 1/3 cup of sugar at a time and beat the mixture until smooth. Add lemon juice and zest and beat mixture until smooth and stiff (stiffness will depend on amount of sugar you add, like I said, I don’t like mine too sweet but compromising on sweetness will change the consistency of the frosting, so play around with yours). Do not overbeat as frosting will become too runny.
3. Add 1 drop of colouring at a time to the frosting and mix well. Continue adding the colouring until you’re happy with the colour but not so much that the frosting tastes bitter!
5. Top each cupcake off with a small strawberry (you can clean them by using a wet tissue to gently wipe them, if you wash them under running water, the wet strawberries will stain the frosting).
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. Spread the love!