Love it or hate it, there is no avoiding February 14th. Cupid and his arrow are fast approaching, floating on a cloud of glittering red rose petals and champagne flutes, striking blind panic into the supposedly fluttering hearts of many as they try to decide between bottles of perfume that smell exactly the same, and dread in to those of others, who spend the whole day dodging couples, too engrossed in gazing in to each other’s eyes to notice those trying to share the pavement. It is the one day that red roses have devoted their whole lives to, the night that suddenly inspires chefs all over the land to scribble ‘chocolate sharing plate’ on the Valentines set menu, AGAIN, and most worryingly, the time that sees scores of unsuspecting, panic-stricken boys, carrying the entirely unpractical and even more ugly teddy bear in ‘I LOVE YOU’ screaming t-shirt straight to the till. Much to the woe of many an on looking girlfriend...
And then there are those, a group that, this year in particular, I definitely fall in to, that just don’t really get it. Those who you are more likely to find in Topshop than Hallmarks, who don’t quite understand why on this day in February they are coerced into buying heart shaped chocolates, or to cook something in a red, also heart shaped, casserole dish. Not that I am unromantic, but this year, as has been the case for the past few busy Valetines, life has meant that the 14th doesn’t really have the same appeal. With a boyfriend who will be spending his Valentines climbing up ropes and navigating around fields as he gets a few steps closer to becoming an Officer in the Royal Artillery, Valentines will undoubtedly pass me by.
So while I am not exactly going to be queuing up in Tescos with a copy of Chainsaw Massacre and a large bottle of wine this year, I think it is pretty obvious that cupid is still a few steps behind Father Christmas in my books. Cards I can deal with, I never say no to flowers, but one step into Clintons, one glimpse of a fluffy puppy holding a heart and I may as well just get the ready meal for one and be done with it. Not that I don’t like my boyfriend, he’s pretty good. And, ever the Soldier, he doesn’t really do fluffy teddies...
But there is no point in trying to avoid it, whether you are filling your bedroom with enough rose petals to make even opening the door a struggle, or stocking up on cheap bottles of wine, blood-thirsty thrillers and reconnecting with your old friends Ben and Jerry, there is just no escaping the oncoming storm of hearts and flowers. And unless you have a nuclear bunker handy, you may as well get on with it; resistance is futile, regardless of how your Facebook relationship status reads.
But, although to be honest I am beginning to realise it may simply be that I have a phobia of cuddly toys, and the fact that I cannot escape my notion that Cupid should be sprinkling the romance dust all year round, I am starting to talk myself round. It is nice to have an excuse after all, and as long as Mr Clinton is in no way involved, why not? Even if it just a chance to make these deliciously romantic cupcakes...
Delicately scented with pink grapefruit (which emerged from the fridge around the same time as the disappearing bottle of beer...) fragrant rosewater, and topped with a zingy cream cheese icing, these definitely show the love. Even if that love is headed straight off the cooling rack and smack-bang-wallop, down in one, in to your own mouth. Why the hell not, ‘tis the season after all; they are pink aren’t they?
Pink Grapefruit and Rosewater Cupcakes.
110g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour, sifted
125g plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp fresh pink grapefruit juice
2 tbsp rose water
1tbsp sour cream or natural yoghurt
Grated zest 1 grapefruit
For the icing:
175g cream cheese
125g butter, softened
450g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp rose water
Few drops red food colouring
Preheat the oven to 160oc. Fill a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until just combined.
Combine the 2 flours in a large bowl, and the milk, juice, rosewater and yoghurt in a jug. Add half of the flours to the butter mixture, followed by half the wet ingredients, beat well and repeat until all combined. Stir in the grapefruit zest.
Spoon the mixture into the cases, about two-thirds full and bake for 25 minutes or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Leave in tins for about 10 minutes to cool, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing; beat together the butter and cream cheese, before adding the rose water. Add the sifted icing sugar a little at a time and beat until smooth and thick (adding a little more icing sugar if needed.) Beat in the food colouring until you have a soft pink.
When the cupcakes are cool, ice, decorate with a rose petal and a shake of icing sugar and present to your lover!