I love cupcakes, especially for a party. Faster and less messy to serve than cake, cupcakes lend themselves to about a zillion easy decorating possibilities too.
I don't have a ton of patience to make my cakes look like works of art, so I find cupcakes way less intimidating. Inspired by the proverb attributed to the month of March (‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’), these adorable cupcakes are my new favourite creation and were a huge hit for my daughter’s birthday. Obviously you can use your favourite cake recipe; the one below is scaled to make just ten cupcakes but it can easily be halved or doubled, depending on how many you need. For the lions’ manes, I used Chicago Mix popcorn; some lions were caramel corn, some were cheddar, and everyone was happy.
For the cupcakes
For the frosting
To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350F and line 10 compartments of a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for one minute. Add the vanilla and melted butter and beat until well combined.
Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk, and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until evenly blended.
Divide the batter evenly among 10 muffin cups (fill each about 2/3 full). Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting; if you have time, frozen cupcakes are even easier to decorate.
Make the frosting by beating icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk plus the food colouring. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). If the frosting appears too thick to spread easily, add additional milk as needed, one teaspoon at a time.
To decorate, trim the domed top off each cupcake with a serrated knife, to make a flat area for the lion’s face. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a knife. Add eyes and mouth, then place popcorn around the outside to form the mane.
Makes 10 cupcakes.