MSO Cupcakes

Garden Office

Garden Office, with research assistants

Once upon a time when the world was young and I wasn’t in the middle of a PhD, me and Jef used to go out enjoying ourselves. Back in those olden days, there was a bar in Milton Keynes called Old Orleans (ok, they were a chain, they were everywhere) who did a very nice line in cocktails. I liked the mad ‘Purple Rain’ which looked like it was the result of pouring in a bit of every bottle on the top row and had a kick like a dipsomaniac mule after a night on the Smirnoff. Jef’s favourite was a concoction called an MSO – I’ll let you Google that if you want to because this is a family-friendly blog and it’s a grown-up name 😉

It’s a mix of Baileys, Kahlua coffee liqueur and amaretto and vodka, all blended with ice-cream and served with  a swirl of chocolate around the glass. More of a pudding than a drink, admittedly, but still rather nice.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning. Having made these cupcakes the day before, I couldn’t get the idea of adapting the recipe to suit another cocktail out of my head. That was silly. I knew it was silly. I’m busy at the moment! I was out of butter! I had a morning of writing ahead of me, a deadline for my literature review looming and – and nothing. The cupcakes were in my head and they just weren’t going to leave me alone until I got on and cooked them! This is how much they were calling to me, I even drew a diagram…

Anatomy of a cupcake

Anatomy of a cupcake

So, an ice-cream flavour cupcake, soaked with amaretto, filled with coffee buttercream, and topped with Baileys buttercream. I scurried up to the corner shop as soon as they opened and bought butter. However, I was lacking another key ingredient – vanilla extract. I know, what self-respecting wannabe baker runs out of something so basic? Me. Undaunted, I considered what else tastes sort of ice-cream-y – custard! No vanilla, but I had custard powder. Perfect. Now, I only wanted to make a half-batch of these as: 1) they were a complete experiment and 2) I’d sent Jef off with ten cupcakes last night, I wasn’t sure how receptive he’d be to another crop appearing like mushrooms while he slept so I fiddled around with quantities a little. Here’s the recipe I eventually used…


Lots of booze

(Yes, this recipe is almost identical to the one from the other day – again, my thanks for Knitting on Trains for the original 🙂 ) 

For the cupcakes

  • 60g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 15g custard powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 20g soft unsalted butter
  • 60ml milk
  • 1/2 large free-range egg
  • Amaretto liqueur
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

For the coffee buttercream filling

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 20g soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp very strongly brewed Nespresso coffee. Drink the rest of the cupful!

For the Baileys buttercream frosting

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 20g soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp Baileys liqueur
  1. Preheat oven to 180° C (160° C fan).
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl, and add in the sugar, baking powder, custard powder and butter. Combine well until the mixture has a sandy texture.
  3. Add in the milk gradually and mix until just incorporated. Add in the egg and beat until just incorporated – don’t over mix.
  4. Spoon the mix into cupcake cases, only filling 2/3 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes (they’re ready when golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean).
  5. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  6. Drizzle each cooled cake with a couple of spoons of amaretto.
  7. Make the buttercreams – separately! – by beating together the icing sugar, butter, coffee or Baileys until light and fluffy.
  8. Remove about a 1 inch deep section of the centre of each cupcake. Spoon in about a teaspoon of coffee buttercream, or enough to fill the hole.
  9. Spoon the frosting over the top of the cakes.
  10. Sieve a little cocoa over the top for a chocolate topping.
Little boozy cake

Little boozy cake

The verdict? Very nice. And once made, I could settle down to writing again. (Literature review nearly done, nearly done – remember this map? Just two more sections to cover and then it goes off for comments… Eep.)

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