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Cupcake Flavors & Frosting Ideas

Updated November 22, 2016

There's no excuse for a generic cupcake when there are so many flavour and icing combinations to make your cupcake rise above the ordinary. While classics like chocolate and vanilla never go out of style, you can nonetheless borrow elements from your favourite foods and cuisines and incorporate them into your cupcakes for a new and revelatory taste experience.

Wine Cupcakes

A distinctly adult take on the child-friendly cupcake, wine cupcakes can be a fun way to lighten up a cocktail party. Any number of variations can address this theme, playing on the citrus or fruit notes that are already present in the wine. A grapefruit chardonnay cupcake builds from a base of chardonnay-infused cake, and is filled with grapefruit curd and topped with grapefruit chardonnay frosting spritzed with grapefruit juice. A red wine cupcake might combine Pinot Noir-laced cocoa cake with a caramel filling, reinforced with a caramel cream cheese frosting.

Churro or Chili Mango Cupcakes

Cupcakes cross all boundaries, borrowing from different cultures and cooking techniques to give way to new flavours. For a Spanish or Mexican-themed occasion, a churro or chocolate churro cupcake can evoke the taste of the fried doughnut treat. The snack can be filled with cinnamon pastry cream and frosted with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla frosting. You can also apply fried, cinnamon-sugar-dusted tortilla strips. The chocolate churro version would have chocolate cake and chocolate cinnamon frosting. Another take on the Mexican cupcake improvises on a favourite snack, mango spiked with chilli spices, to create a cupcake made of vanilla cake filled with mango curd, topped with mango-flavoured frosting and dusted with spicy, chilli-laced sugar.

Greek Rice Pudding Cupcakes

In a nod to ethnic cuisine, cupcakes can echo the sweets of a culture and recreate them in a cupcake. The Greek dessert rizogalo may be reconstructed in cupcake guise by filling a vanilla cake with rizogalo, applying vanilla bean frosting and dusting it with cinnamon sugar. The rizogalo will be a rich concoction with egg yolks, sugar, whole milk and arborio rice, flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla. Another Greek sweet, baklava, or the rich fillo pastry made of honey and chopped nuts, can be incorporated into a cupcake in several ways: baklava filling can be used as the cupcake's filling, then chopped baklava pieces can be sprinkled on top of the honey cream cheese frosting.

Earl Grey Cupcakes With Lavender Frosting

For an afternoon tea with the ladies or your in-laws, Earl Grey tea cupcakes will make a decidedly adult cupcake. The delicately scented bergamot flavours of the tea pairs well with the floral notes of the lavender extract in the frosting. You can either use the ground tea leaves directly into the batter or steep the tea in the liquid ingredients prior to being mixed in. Optionally tint the frosting a lavender hue, or top with a real sprig of lavender. If desired, serve together with Earl Grey tea, or Lady Grey tea, which will taste similar to the refined tea but with a touch of orange.

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About the Author

Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.