Hot Valentine Cupcakes

My Valentine requested cupcakes with Red Hots, but there were none to be found. Really… Was there a run on Red Hots in Brooklyn? I had to switch gears, so I purchased a store-brand bag of cinnamon discs (individually wrapped hard candies) and a box of Hot Tamales!


How to get the “hot” flavor in the cupcakes? I just didn’t know what to expect if I put Hot Tamales in the batter, so I went another route. I crushed cinnamon discs in a baggie with a hammer (now that’s what I call fun!) and used them instead of about half the sugar in my vanilla cupcake recipe.

I put the crushed cinnamon discs in with the sugar and butter when creaming, then proceeded as normal. The candy powder and pieces were not melding with the rest, so I let the batter sit about an hour before giving it a last mix and scooping it into the tins to bake. The time I let pass allowed the color and flavor of “cinnamon” seep into the batter for a more cohesive look and taste.

Creaming butter, sugar, and crushed cinnamon discs; newly mixed batter; after an hour

Then for the frosting… I was avoiding using any real cinnamon in these cupcakes, as I wanted to get the real fake taste of “red hot” candy right! I opened up my box of Hot Tamales with an idea.

Fun fact: Hot Tamales will burn before they melt! I cooked them on the stovetop, keeping them at a low-medium temperature with a little water, but only the outer shells melted. Sure, ok, it was partially my fault for turning away for 2 seconds, but I’m calling trying to melt Hot Tamales a “Bad Idea.”

What did work, to some extent, was simmering a couple of cinnamon discs in about 1/3 cup water, letting them dissolve. I added some of this liquid to the icing, otherwise a regular vanilla buttercream, which added a little flavor and color. I could have made it stronger, but I was scared. (As as aside, I also set some mac and cheese on fire about the same time. Oops.)

Once I had piped frosting on the cooled cakes, I added—finally—two Hot Tamales.


I served the cupcakes to my Valentine (and me!) with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Some lucky Webgrrls enjoyed the extra cupcakes at a workshop the next evening!

They did not taste terribly spicy, but they had a little of that red-hot kick, I’d say. I’ll let my tasters comment!

*This lovely hand-stamped vintage spoon, part of a pair (the other says “Your Ice Cream”), is from Beach House Living.

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6 thoughts on “Hot Valentine Cupcakes

  1. “…I also set some mac and cheese on fire about the same time” … lolol:)
    I did not taste but these really do look amazing! (what about trying crushed Fireballs? are those at all similar in flavor to Hot Tamales?:)

    I also think I need some of those ice cream spoons…very cool.

  2. I read every line of cupcakes etc. and enjoyed every word. I had not kept up with the blog( had forgotten it existed really!) and got so hungry had to quit. I recognized my china! Love you, Glo

  3. My mother used to make this Red Hot flavoured jello that I really liked until I stopped eating gelatin (I guess I haven’t tried to get her to make it with agar yet). I think the Red Hots are a key ingredient. She’d use part of a bag and melt them in the boiling water that was added to the jello off the stove. I’m sure they must still have Red Hots somewhere, so these cupcakes are probably worth a second attempt!

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