Afternoon tea for me is one of the simple pleasures of life – a small break after the hectic day to unwind and relax. It’s not an elaborate affair at our place, just a cup of black or green tea with a little sweet or savoury snack. Sipping the tea, chatting with family or friends and nibbling at cucumber sandwiches, chocolate cookies or fruity muffins is my idea of relaxation.

When it comes to choosing between muffins and cupcakes, my choice is always muffins. What’s the difference? Actually many! Muffins are less sweet, with usually fruits and nuts mixed with the batter. They have a more crispy texture on the tops.
Other than a drizzle of glaze or sprinkle of powdered sugar, they have no topping.
Once you put icing or frosting on a muffin, it’s no longer a muffin in my mind.
And the cupcakes are, well, miniature cakes. Sweet, soft and loaded with frosting and candy of all sorts.

I prefer muffins for the same reason I like coffee cakes better than cakes covered in fondant or frosting – one can taste the actual ingredients. I’ve experimented a lot with different sweet and savoury flavours in muffins and plain vanilla, chocolate and strawberry remain my most favourite. But for days when you can’t decide if you want a vanilla muffin or a strawberry muffin, here is a recipe for delicious Vanilla Strawberry Marble Muffins. The muffins turned out soft and scrummy, all of which disappeared in minutes.

Vanilla and strawberry is a match made in heaven and the best thing about these marble muffins is that the strawberry effect is not created by red food colour mixed with some part of the muffin batter but with actual strawberry sauce with chunks of sweet n sour fruit.

If you are a cupcake person, you can easily convert them to cupcakes with your favourite frosting. My recommendation is to go for whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients:

For Vanilla Batter :

1 cup plain flour
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup milk
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

For Strawberry Sauce:

8-9 strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour

This Is What You Do:

For strawberry sauce, cook strawberries with 2 tbsp sugar and 1/4 cup water.

When strawberries are tender and sugar dissolved, mash them up with a fork.

Mix corn flour with a little water to make a paste. Add it to strawberry and sugar mx. Stir till the sauce thickens up. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven at 160 degrees C.

In a big mixing bowl beat together softened (not melted) butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.

Add one egg at a time. Add 1 tablespoon flour and mix.

Add the second egg and another tablespoon of flour and mix.

Add vanilla. Stir in 1/4 tsp baking powder and remaining flour. Add milk and just briefly mx everything. Over mixing will make the muffins deflate and go dense.

Add a tablespoonful of batter to a muffin paper cup, then a teaspoon of strawberry sauce. Slightly swirl them with a fork.or skewer to achieve a marble effect. Top it with another tablespoonful of muffin batter to cover the sauce completely or it will burn with heat.

Repeat with all the batter and sauce. Makes 12 medium muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or till a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool completely if you want to cover them with any frosting.

I mixed the left over sauce ( a couple of teaspoons) with whipping cream to make strawberry flavoured frosting. You can serve them without any frosting too or sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

Tips:
*Do not over mix the muffin batter – just mix till there are no lumps.
*Do not fill the muffin cups more than 3-4. Over filled muffin cups don’t let the muffins expand.
*always use eggs at room temperature.
*you can make six big muffins with this batter for breakfast.
*want to frost them? Mix whatever little strawberry sauce is left in the pan with whipped cream or cream cheese frosting for a natural pink colour and strawberry flavour.

Serves 12

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