Romesickness is the reason for these cupcakes.
Since spending a week in Italy I have been plotting and scheming ways and means to get back again, and scrapbooking the photo’s each month has only added fuel to the flame. So for last month’s scrapbooking session, I decided to treat us ladies (and the lord of the manor, of course) with these yummy Spaghetti & Meatball-inspired cupcakes. So okay, I’ll admit to having gone to a birthday party the night before scrapbooking, and so assembled these, in my glad rags, at 1am on a Sunday morning. I tell you – butter is not your friend at 1am in a cold kitchen. It is unyielding and a meanie, and you can smack it with a wooden spoon as much as you like, it will just sit there stubbornly refusing to become soft luscious buttercream icing.
The butter made me so mad that I actually held a grudge against it that whole Sunday, so much so that I didn’t ever get to taste these cupcakes. The noises made by fellow scrappers while eating them was encouraging, though.
Next time I do these I’ll schedule the assembly at least a month before the time, on a warm day suitable for working with butter. I’ll allow enough time to make knobbly chocolate truffles for the “meatballs”. I’ll also use strawberry jam because it has smaller, more abundant pippy bits that will make the “sauce” look a little more convincing. I accidentally bought youngberry jam thinking it was strawberry; it has a blue-ish hue that made the “meatballs” appear purple, so I added a big drop of red gel colouring to remedy this.
What you will need to make Spaghetti & Meatball cupcakes:
Cupcakes (day-old is best – if it’s too fresh it will be difficult to cut)
Cadbury’s Tumbles with Shortcake Centres (or chocolate truffles)
*I have never, ever in all my days of cupcakery measured out the ingredients for icing. I just wing it and it always works – cream butter, add some vanilla and icing sugar and keep beating the bejeezus out of it until its creamy and fluffy and just the right amount of sweetness. For this particular cupcake, you may need a tiny fraction of a drop of yellow colour to make it more spaghetti-ish.
Back to the Cupcakes:
Using a small, sharp knife, cut a neat cone shape out of the top of the cupcake. You don’t want to go all the way through to the bottom, about three-quarters of the way down is ideal. Carefully remove the cake-cone and resist the urge to pop it straight into your mouth (your turn will come). By the way, such high-falutin devices as Cupcake Plungers are now available for the excavation and subsequent filling of cupcakes – I can’t see why this should be better than a knife though.
Using the knife (ha! try do this part with a cupcake plunger! *contemptuous sniff*), cut the tip of the cake-cone off. Pop this directly into your mouth – yum! Put a teaspoonful or so of jam into the hollow in the cupcake, then replace the flat “lid” that you formed a minute a go. If you’re a little Rainman OCD, you can put it back in exactly the same position you cut it out and you won’t be able to see that it was ever cut.
Next, fit whatever piping device suits you with a small plain round piping nozzle. Like, 3mm diameter small. Add the icing, and haphazardly pipe into “spaghetti” on top of the cupcake, in a wavy nest-y kind of shape. Put two or three Tumbles into the middle of the spaghetti nest. Carefully spoon the jam over the Tumbles – if its a little jelly-ish mix it briskly with a spoon and it will oblige.
Now, offer them around while talking loudly in an Italian accent and making wild gestures with your free arm – “Spaghettti-meat-a-boll-a! You-a will-a love-ah! Amore! When-a the moon-a hits my eye-a… etc.”
PS: Speaking of Rome – if you find yourself there with a rumbly in your tumbly, march yourself over the river to Trastevere and on towards Piazza San Cosimato (it’s on all the tourist maps). Look for Ai! Spagghetari – it’s got a couple of tables out on the pavement (actually it’s in a driving lane, but thats OK in Rome because they all know how to get a car through a space significantly narrower than the vehicle itself). Order the Spaghetti alla Carbonara, dive into it face-first, then write me a heartfelt Thank You letter.