I managed to lock myself out of the apartment yesterday, taking my carefully sorted recycling down to the bins. Major panic as I’d left a pan of home-made carrot soup bubbling on the hob. It was molto fun trying to ask for help from the old nonna downstairs, who doesn’t speak a word of English (luckily not the same nonna I previously fell out with over a pair of wellies). It’s harder than you’d think to mime ‘I’ve locked myself out, my husband is at work and there is imminent danger of the apartment burning down’!
Fortunately, it turns out that the landlord’s mother lives in the block next door and has a spare key. By the time I got into the apartment, I could barely see through the thick smoke and the soup had turned into a blackened solid lump at the bottom of the pan. After all that, this morning we saw the bin men chuck the recycling in the back of the truck with all the rubbish…
So I decided to cheer myself up making some strawberry cupcakes but with an Italian twist: the addition of Fragolo, the strawberry liqueur from Nemi. At 30% proof, I think these had better be adult only treats!
Ingredients – makes 12 cupcakes:
8 large fresh strawberries 2 eggs
200g caster sugar 75ml vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons custard powder 20ml strawberry liqueur
175g mascarpone or cream cheese 30g unsalted butter, softened
80g icing sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10ml strawberry liqueur Pink food colouring (optional)
White chocolate hearts or slices of fresh strawberry
Preheat oven to 170 C / Gas 3. Line cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
Place strawberries into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the puree through a sieve to remove seeds. Puree should equal about 175ml.
In a large bowl beat together the eggs, caster sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, strawberry puree and strawberry liqueur until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and custard powder. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cupcake tin, filling each about 2/3 full.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cupcakes have risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool for at least 10 minutes before icing.
To make the icing, beat the mascarpone and butter together in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla extract, strawberry liqueur and food colouring, then mix in icing sugar to make a lump-free icing. Ice each cupcake and add decoration of your choice.
Enjoy with a cup of tea and good book. Or maybe more liqueur…