These retro little beauties are just plain adorable! Underneath the crisp sugar icing is moist, fluffy cake and a secret vanilla buttercream filling, making them absolutely scrumptious. Plus you can personalise them to suit the occasion – I went for classic Love Hearts slogans (you can find an exhaustive list on Wikipedia!) but you could also make your own messages for birthdays, baby showers or hen parties.

1 egg
3 oz caster sugar
2.5 oz margarine
5 oz self-raising flour
A splash of milk
A couple of big spoonfuls of margarine and icing sugar, for the buttercream
Plus a heart-shaped cupcake tin (obviously, this is only necessary for aesthetic purposes!)

To decorate:
About 300g icing sugar
1 egg white
A splash of boiling water
Pink food colouring
A red writing icing pen

Makes about a dozen, possibly with a few spares, depending on the size of the tin – to be honest, you may need them to perfect the decorating technique!

I won’t sugarcoat it (haha) – these cupcakes are a bit fiddly in terms of decoration, but they do look rather fabulous once you’ve got the hang of it. If you wanted to, you could just use the bun recipe (it’s my mum’s, and she’s a baking goddess) to make scrumptious cakes in any shape you choose.

First of all, weigh out the ingredients and combine the egg, sugar, margarine and flour in a bowl – when it has come together as a smooth mixture, it should be very thick and claggy. Add a generous splash of milk and mix again. The finished batter should be solid enough to scoop out a spoonful, but still runny enough to drop off the spoon.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Grease your cupcake mould, and put about a heaped tablespoon of mixture in each cup – my cupcake mould is reasonably small, but as a general rule of thumb, you want the cups to be half full. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden-brown and slightly crisp on top, and then release from the mould and leave to cool completely before proceeding to the next step – don’t get impatient, or your icing and buttercream will melt and make a huge mess!

Next, make your buttercream – this has always been an inexact science for me, as I find it easiest to just put a couple of tablespoons of margarine in a bowl and keep mixing in icing sugar until it tastes right. Using a long, sharp knife, carefully slice the cupcakes horizontally so that they make two flat halves. Fill with buttercream, like miniature Victoria sponges.

To create your icing, separate your second egg and discard the yolk (or use it in another recipe), then mix about 300g of icing sugar in with the egg white. Keep stirring until you have a smooth mixture – it should be really thick and solid. Next, you need to add a tiny splash of boiling water to the bowl – be really careful, because I do mean a tiny splash! If you add too much water, the icing will be far too runny. You want it to be liquid enough to drop off the spoon, but still stiff enough that when it drops back into the rest of the mixture, it rests on top rather than melting back in straight away. Finally, add one drop of the red food colouring – it might not look like much, but when you stir it you’ll realise how powerful that one drop is!

The next step is to coat the cupcakes with the icing – place a dollop on top and gently spread it out, allowing it to start slowly moving down the sides. Add more as necessary, so that the whole thing is evenly coated. Don’t worry if you get a few drips off the bottom – if you’ve got the consistency right, the mixture should be thick enough that most of it stays on the cupcake, in an even layer. If your mixture is too runny, add some more icing sugar, and if it’s still not enough, pop the icing in the fridge for a few minutes. If it’s too thick, add another tiny drop of water. You need to get the cupcakes in the fridge fairly quickly, so that the icing sets, so I would recommend putting the first half of the batch on a plate and getting them in the fridge while you do the second half.

Once the second half of the cupcakes are done, the icing on the first half should be set. Now it’s time for the (slightly) nerve-wracking part: the writing. Writing icing pens are designed to be as user-friendly as possible, but just in case, you might want to practise a bit on a plate first. The best way to learn is to practise, but I will give you one tip – to stop the thread of icing when you’ve finished a letter, stop squeezing and gently push the end of the nozzle against the icing, to cut off the flow. Don’t forget to outline a heart around the message, to really make the cakes look like lovely Love Hearts. Pop them back in the fridge to make sure the icing is all really set.