Cupcakes and cocktails go hand in hand, and the cosmopolitan lends itself perfectly as inspiration for this recipe...
Ingredients: (makes 24)
125g dried cranberries
3 tbsp Cointreau liqueur
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed oranges
4 medium eggs
225g self-raising flour
60ml orange and Cointreau syrup
Soak the cranberries in the Cointreau liqueur, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to infuse overnight.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/Gas mark 4 and line two 12-hole muffin trays with cases.
Place the butter, sugar, salt and zest in a bowl and cream until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly in a jug and slowly add to the butter mixture while beating quickly. If the mixture starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2-3 tablespoons of flour to rebind it. Once all the egg has been added, sift in the flour and fold until just combined. Using a piping bag or tablespoon, fill the cases until two-thirds full. Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid (use this to make the syrup). Divide the cranberries evenly and drop into the cupcakes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. They are cooked when the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife into each sponge; it should come out clean. Leave to rest for a few minutes outside of the oven and brush the tops with syrup. Remove them from the trays and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
To decorate: Use the orange and Cointreau cream cheese frosting on page 60 and top with colourful sugar sprinkles.
Orange & Cointreau syrup
60ml orange juice
60g caster sugar
Place the orange juice and sugar into a small saucepan and bring just to the boil. Stir until the sugar crystals have all dissolved, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool. Add Cointreau to taste.
Basic cream cheese frosting:
250g full-fat cream cheese, slightly softened
250g unsalted butter, softened
625g icing sugar, sifted
Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
Place the butter and a third of the sugar into a separate bowl and cream until very pale and fluffy. Add another third of the sugar and repeat. Add the remaining sugar and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps remain. Add the cream cheese, a little at a time, and mix at a low speed until combined. Chill until firm enough to pipe.
Orange & Cointreau
Add the finely grated zest of 2 oranges and flavour to taste with Cointreau
Edited extracts taken from 'Cakes In Bloom: The Art of Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers' by Peggy Porschen, £25; www.peggyporschen.com