At the beginning of every month, I look forward to my copy of Delicious Magazine arriving on my doorstep. Its always packed with fantastic, easy to follow recipes and this month was no exception. As I read it on the tube the other day, I earmarked loads of pages containing recipes I wanted to try out. This one was top of my list. As I scanned through the list of ingredients I realised I had everything I needed in my kitchen. Result!

This is a great recipe. Its really easy to make and the cakes taste so delicious. In fact, the sponge itself is so good, it actually doesn’t need the frosting on top. I would easily make this into a loaf and eat it on its own. But yes, frosting is always good too.

Ingredients    *this recipe makes 12 cupcakes*
For the sponge
150g/5.3oz unsalted butter, softened
120g/4.2 oz soft light brown sugar
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
Zest 1 orange and 1 lemon
150g/5.3oz self-raising flour
125g/4.4oz ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp maple syrup, plus extra for drizzling

For the meringue crunch
100g/3.5oz pecans
1 large free-range egg white
2 tbsp icing sugar

For the cream cheese frosting
300g/10.6oz full-fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
100g/3.5oz icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3½. Line a cupcake baking tin with cupcake cases.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and soft light brown sugar with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the 4 eggs, bit by bit, beating well after each addition. Don’t worry if the mixture curdles – it will come back together when you add the flour.


Stir through the orange and lemon zests, then fold through the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, the 3 tbsp maple syrup and a good pinch of salt.



Divide the mixture evenly among the cupcake cases. I use an ice cream scoop for this as it means every cupcake is the same size.



Bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and golden on top, and a skewer pushed into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.


Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Turn the oven down to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2.  While the cakes are cooling, make the meringue crunch. Spread out the pecans on a baking sheet, then toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden (make sure they don’t burn). Remove, then set aside to cool completely.

Line another baking sheet with baking paper. Whisk the egg white in a clean mixing bowl until stiff, then add the 2 tbsp icing sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking between additions until stiff. (You can use a balloon whisk for this, if you like, as it doesn’t require that much effort.)



Stir through the cooled pecans, then spread the mixture thinly over the prepared baking sheet. (With hindsight I should have chopped the pecans before mixing them through the egg white mixture.)


Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp, then remove and leave to cool.


Once cool, break the meringue into small pieces and set aside.

To make the frosting, whisk the cream cheese with the 100g icing sugar in a bowl until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir through the maple syrup and vanilla extract.

To assemble, spread a layer of frosting over each cake, then scatter with the meringue crunch topping. Drizzle a little more maple syrup over the top so it runs down the side, then serve.


These really do taste delicious. The sponge is light and fluffy and packed full of flavour. I always find ground almonds make for a lighter, tastier, more moist sponge. And the addition of the citus zest takes it to another level.  On its own, this sponge is fantastic.  Add the cream cheese frosting and the meringue and toasted pecan crunch and you have a rather wonderful cupcake.




The meringue crunch will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The un-iced cakes can be frozen, well wrapped in baking paper and cling film, for up to 3 months. Defrost completely before assembling.

If the cakes are likely to sit for a while on the tea table, use Lyle’s Golden Syrup Maple Flavour to drizzle over instead of maple syrup – it’s thicker and will stay in place for longer.

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  • Reply tableofcolors 7th April 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of cupcakes, but yours look fantastic and something that I would love! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply A Spoonful Of Sugar 7th April 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Thing is, I don’t like cupcakes normally. These were actually mini loaves in the magazine but I didn’t have any mini loaf tins so I made them into cupcakes instead. I was really pleased with how they turned out. 🙂

  • Reply sophiebowns 7th April 2014 at 9:07 pm

    How delicious!

  • Reply Ella {lick + spoon} 7th April 2014 at 9:20 pm

    mmm, meringue crunch is something new I haven’t come across before! The cupcakes look delicious!

  • Reply Deena Kakaya 7th April 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Now I’m not ordinarily a meringue fan, I think an overdose through come dine with me shot my enthusiasm down quite a bit.

    Now, the idea of meringue on a fluffy cake with nuts to add texture and break it up; immense x

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