The first formal dance I went to in high school was a spring dance. I had no idea what I was supposed to wear, other than a formal. I had a long, navy blue velveteen dress that was quite elegant. But it had only straps and I thought that would be a tad chilly, so I put a shiny turtleneck on underneath. Boy, did I feel like the odd one out at the dance. All the other girls were wearing frothy confections in pastel colors. (If you've seen Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, you know what I'm talking about.) Everyone else looked like a spring garden, and I looked like the winter carpet, rolled up to go to the cleaner's.
Bad fashion memories aside, I think spring is the happiest season of the year. The drudgery of dreary winter is buried under a carpet of cherry blossoms, dainty flowers lift their cheerful heads to the sun, and the promise of warm summer is in the breeze.
My daughter needed a dessert to take to a meeting and in thumbing through my copy of Nigella Express I came across these adorable cupcakes. They are quick and delightfully simple to make and will lift the heart of any recipient with the thrill of seeing the first butterfly of spring. I made a double batch so I'd have even more joy to spread around. And if you want to cut corners and use a boxed cake mix, I won't tell!
- adapted from Nigella Express
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp soft butter
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
1 cup heavy cream
food coloring of your choice
colored sugar crystals
1- Preheat the oven to 400 deg. F. If making a single batch, place a rack in the center of the oven. If making a double batch, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. (Two, if doubling the recipe.)
2- Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy.
3- Add the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour, beating after each addition.
4- Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and baking soda. Gently fold in the vanilla and the milk.
5- Spoon the batter into the paper liners, dividing equally.
6- Put the pan in the oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are cooked and golden on top. Take the cupcakes in the paper liners out of the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
7 - Once they're cool, cut off the mounded peak (if one has formed), digging down a little with your knife. This will leave a small hole you'll fill with cream. If the cupcakes haven't peaked, just cut a slightly wider circle, digging in as you do so. Cut the removed top into half to form the butterfly wings.
8- Whip the cream until thick, coloring with food coloring if you wish, and place about 2 tsp of cream in the hole of each cupcake. Stick the wings into the cream, rounded edges together. Sprinkle the colored sugar down the middle to form a butterfly body.
Serve soon after making or store in the refrigerator.