This recipe (below) is to die for.  But Norwegian cupcakes?  Norway is certainly not known for the cupcake.  The cupcake is a new addition to Norwegian pop-culture cooking.  Thanks to the popularity of the Cupcake Girls on TV, cupcake recipes are splashing all over foodie mags and cookery shows.  They have  skipped altogether the humble little cupcake that I knew growing up in Australia, but instead have gone full pelt for the more decadent varieties with mountainous creamy icing and formed decorations. There seems to be some confusion in Norway as to what a cupcake actually is.  I don't understand why.  A cupcake is essentially a one person sponge cake.  Norway is no stranger to the fluffy light egg based sponge as its best loved cake, bløtkake, is exactly that.  Though, the bløtkake is made very dry and putting it into a cupcake form would make anyone cry out for milk.  All the 'cupcakes' I have bought from the shops in Norway or all the ones I have made from 'Norwegian' recipes aren't what I'd call a cupcake at all.  They are thick, heavy and a little on the gluey side.  They are what I'd class as an American muffin.  It seems in Norway that if it is a small, one portioned cake, it is called a cupcake, even if it is a muffin.  But a muffin is also called a 'muffins', one muffins, two muffinser and so on, unless it is called a cupcake. Confused?  Ja. Well, words don't mean a thing when you try this Vanilla Cupcake recipe, (which is more like a muffin recipe), as just one bite will make you speechless.  This is our family favourite.  Can't remember where I got it from, some Norwegian food magazine, but boy, does it make you want to get out and exercise just so you can be guilt free when having another one.  We made this batch for you so we could give you pictures.  But we didn't mind eating them, all in the name of blogging, hey? Vanilla Cupcakes: 170g of room temperature, real butter 340g of caster sugar 2 large eggs at room temperature 400g of plain flour 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder 1/4 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence seeds from half a vanilla bean 200mls of whole milk Vanilla Icing: 300g of room temperature, real butter 250g of plain cream cheese or mandarin/pineapple cream cheese seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence 250g of icing sugar silver sprinkles Method: For the cupcakes - warm up the oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Beat the butter with electric beaters until it turns whiter - about 2mins. Add in the sugar and beat for about 3mins. Lightly mix eggs.  Add to sugar-butter mix in three portions.  Beat well to mix after each addition. In another bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.  In a jug mix milk, vanilla essence and vanilla pod seeds. Alternate between adding some milk and flour mix, beating after every addition.  The mixture should be light and creamy. Spoon the mixture into muffin forms (extra large cupcake forms) filling to 2/3.  The whole mixture should fill about 16 extra large forms.  The mixture is so yummy at this stage, it is hard to fill the required cups as your mouth gets in the way. Bake in the oven for about 22-25 minutes.  The top should have a little crust.  Allow to completely cool before icing. For the Vanilla Icing - in a bowl beat the butter with a beater until light and fluffy - about 2mins. The original recipe I had used plain cream cheese but I have found using mandarin/pineapple adds a little extra yumminess.  I go with one plain and one flavoured.  (As they are 125g each from Tine.) Beat the cream cheese into the butter. Add the vanilla essence and pod seeds. I am sure the pod seeds are just for looks - they do make the icing look like real vanilla ice cream.  There is so much essence  required for the recipe that we ran out - argh!  Farmor to the rescue.  Unfortunately, she uses vanilla sugar in her recipes rather than vanilla essence, so her old vanilla bottle (above) was a gamble we had to take. Add the icing sugar and beat well.  The original recipe used about 250g but if you want it to be thicker for stiffer molding, add some more.  Now you are finished - the icing will taste divine! In Norway, I can only find one brand of icing sugar that comes in a tiny box.  Icing sugar is called 'powdered sugar' in Norwegian.  The box label has four different languages on the front - can you guess which is Norwegian? Spoon the icing mix into a piping bag.  I generally use the star-shaped nozzle for wavy lines. Pipe the icing on the cupcakes.  Start from the outside-in.  The first piping is generally a base layer and then I build it up for height. Dress with sprinkles - we used silver balls (and below, little candy hearts). The cakes keep out of the fridge for a couple of days.  The cupcake gets a little gluey and heavy from all the butter put into it (hence, it is more a muffin) but strangely enough the icing balances it out (which is crazy because it is all butter These are very indulgent cupcakes, I must admit.  To make the icing alone will cost at least kr50,- (US$10).  But to save on cost and fat, I generally make only half the icing mixture.  So instead of filling up each top with icing, I pipe from a smaller circumference.  Then I don't have to add in another 30mins of exercise each day I have one.  Happy sugar-rush!  

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