Cupcakes are already the perfect bite-sized treat--easy to decorate and transport, and more accessible than a full-sized cake. No wonder they're so trendy. You can make a batch of cupcakes even more special by adding a filling of some sort to the centre as a sweet surprise.
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Just about any jam or fruit preserve can be used to fill a cupcake. Raspberry or strawberry pairs well with either a vanilla or chocolate cupcake base. Apricot lends a sophisticated touch to vanilla, angel food or almond cupcakes. For a fun twist on classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fill a peanut-butter-flavoured cupcake with a dollop of grape jelly.
Lemon curd is a sweet-tart conserve made of butter, eggs and lemon juice. Its thick texture and complex flavour make for a delicious cupcake filling. Try a triple-lemon punch with lemon curd filling, lemon cake base and lemon cream cheese frosting. Or fill vanilla cupcakes with lemon curd and frost with lemon buttercream.
Pudding is just the right consistency to make for a winning cupcake filling. Try chocolate pudding inside a vanilla cupcake or vice-versa. Vanilla pudding plus vanilla cake with chocolate icing equals a cupcake version of Boston cream pie. You can also try banana pudding inside a banana-flavoured cupcake or make a creamsicle-inspired cupcake with vanilla pudding inside an orange-flavoured cupcake.
Pastry cream is the traditional cooked custard used by pastry chefs to fill all sorts of baked goods from eclairs to, yes, cupcakes. It can be made plain or flavoured with vanilla, chocolate, coffee or liqueurs such as brandy, Kirsch or Grand Marnier. Pastry cream can be tricky to make, but the results are polished and professional.
You can easily make a batch of caramel sauce thick enough to be used as a cupcake filling. This flavour works well as a filling for chocolate cupcakes. Banana cupcakes are another good match. Apple cupcakes filled with caramel would be an unusual presentation of a classic flavour profile.
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