Making Do: Condensed milk cupcakes and icing

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I recently “hosted” a cupcake-decorating session with a group of adults – not knowing what other kind of activity to offer up when my turn rolled around to plan an activity for the group. It ended up being fun enough, but the interesting part for me was that, being the baker whose idea it all was, I had to actually bake all the cupcakes for use.

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When baking time rolled around, the weather was dismal – wintry, icy and everything I did not want to brave behind the wheel to go get the one missing ingredient – milk. Luckily, even though baking is a science, meaning that you can’t just throw whatever you want into a recipe and expect it to turn out, you CAN make successful substitutions.

I had a lot of sweetened condensed milk in the cupboard, and I decided to give it a go in cupcakes (and in frosting).

Let me just back up for a moment to mention condensed milk, as I am sure I have done before. I do not any longer take for granted that it is freely/readily available and something of a staple. When I moved from the US to Iceland, long ago, I was stunned to find that condensed milk was nowhere to be found. I asked a lot of Icelanders, who seemed confused or, worse yet, acted like I was stupid for not being able to find and use milk. Yes, they did not know that condensed milk is not just milk. Eventually Iceland got condensed milk, although usually only to be found in Polish and Asian shops.

Moving to Sweden, I found that pretty much every shop has condensed milk (hoorah), which lulled me into the false sense of security that I would be able to find it again upon return (and needing to bake) in Iceland. No such luck.

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Vanilla condensed milk cupcakes (this should make between 20-24 cupcakes)
170 grams butter
500 grams condensed milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons baking powder
250 grams flour (if making chocolate cupcakes, replace about half to two-thirds of the flour with unsweetened cocoa – I guessed on this proportion)

Preheat oven to 175C. Bake about 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.

Beat butter, condensed milk together. When well-blended, add eggs and vanilla. Then add the dry ingredients.

Line your cupcake pan with cupcake papers and fill each about halfway (or slightly more). Bake.

Let cool in pan for about five minutes after removing from the oven; move the cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely.

Icing
I am trying to remember exactly how I went about making the icing… it was butter, powdered sugar and condensed milk (the 500g called for the cake recipe above is about one and a half standard-sized cans; the leftover half-can should be used here, though you might ultimately need more). Icing is a lot more forgiving than a baked recipe – so you should just mix the stuff you want together until you get the right balance of texture/consistency and flavor.

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