5 February 2014

"I'm going to pop a corny line... Will you be my Valentine?" - Cherry Popcorn Cupcakes

These cupcakes are as sweet as Valentines Day itself - sickly. They're the sort of cupcakes you avoid giving children at a party, for fear it will progress to afternoon tea for twenty chimpanzees on E. Hmmm I'm not really selling them am I?...

They're are more a cherryade cupcake rather than a true cherry cupcake - not real cherry, but the addictive synthetic flavour of cherry. And I'm definitely floating the idea that they are the long lost cousin of Mr. Sherbet Lemon.

If I haven't persuaded you to give these a shot, then just sit back and look at the pictures... Oh and tut under your breath if you must.

Just a quick note. I used the SodaStream cherry syrup sample, as I bought a sample pack to make lemonade, cola and fizzy orange cupcakes, so actually the £7.99 pack is good money well spent.

Cherry Popcorn Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes or 10 muffins.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees centigrade.

Prepare the popcorn...
1 x 100g sweet microwaveable popcorn packet (results in some leftover cherry popcorn)

Prepare popcorn according to packet instructions. If you are using loose popcorn kernels, then you should be fine with only 50g. One hundred grams will give you plenty with some cherry popcorn left over.

Once the popcorn is popped, tip in to a large bowl, removing the kernels and burnt pieces as far as possible.

For the syrup...
75g caster sugar
75ml water
1 anaemic tbsp of Sodastream cherry syrup or similar product

Bring the caster sugar and water to the boil in a high-sided metal saucepan. The sugar should have completely dissolved before turning the syrup down to a simmer. Heat for a further 8 minutes or so until you see it the syrup thicken. Use a teaspoon to help you test this - in a nutshell you don't want the syrup running straight off the spoon.

Add the cherry syrup, mix and heat for a further 2 minutes. Take the syrup off the heat.

Pour the syrup over the popcorn and mix to combine, trying to get each piece coated with the dusty pink syrup. Leave to cool while you make the cakes.

For the cupcakes...
35g unsalted butter
100g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Mix the above together until well combined and very fine in texture.

110ml milk
1 egg

Measure the milk, add the egg and lightly whisk with a fork to combine. Gradually add to the cake mixture a little at a time.

Add your cherry syrup to the cake batter and mix until smooth. 

Pour the batter in to a jug and divide between your cupcake cases. 

Cover the top of the batter with the cherry popcorn. The batter will bake up and around the popcorn.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minute and then check every 3 minutes. The cakes should spring back when touched lightly and/or a skewer should come out clean. The tops of the cake will be golden.

For the icing...
170g icing sugar
25ml water
1 tbsp of cherry syrup (or the rest of your sample size tube)

Mix all of the above until it forms a smooth icing.

To assemble...

Once your cupcakes have cooled dollop some icing on each one. Do not panic if the icing sits in a little lump on top of your cupcake - I have a solution for that.

Boil the kettle and fill a mug. Get your knife and dip in the hot water before spreading the icing. This stops the icing sticking to the knife and pulling the popcorn out of the cupcake and helps the icing spread. The icing won't completely cover your popcorn, but acts as a kind of glue to smudje (yes I made that word up) more cherry popcorn on top of the cupcake.

This recipe is uses the Hummingbird Bakery's delicious sponge as a base and is based on a combination of the Toffee Popcorn Cupcakes from Home Sweet Home and the soda range of cupcakes from Cake Days (as mentioned above).
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