In the Kitchen with Erin Knightley: More Than a Stranger…& Spongecake!

Welcome to the Chicklets, Erin! Thanks so much for dropping by to tell us about your début novel from Signet and your romance inspired cupcake!

Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin decided to pursue a sensible career in science.  It was only after earning her B.S. and working in the field for years that she realized doing the sensible thing wasn’t any fun at all.  Following her dreams, Erin left her practical side behind and now spends her days writing. Together with her tall, dark, and handsome husband and their three spoiled mutts, she’s living her own Happily Ever After in North Carolina. Find her at, on, or at

Thanks so much for letting me join you today, Chicklets!  I’m never more at home than when I’m in the kitchen, and I’m delighted to be here today to share an original recipe that I cooked up in honor of the release (tomorrow – EEK!) of my début novel, MORE THAN A STRANGER.

Baking has always been one of my very favorite things in the entire world (although between you and me, I’d do much less of it if my hubby weren’t so willing to clean the kitchen after – that saint!).  As a matter of fact, used to be called 🙂 Until my deadlines started getting so crazy, I would post a ‘slice of life’ story with a recipe every week. My favorites were always the more unusual cupcakes (Campfire cupcakes, anyone? Lavender honey, perhaps?)

So without further ado, may I present . . .

 More Than a Spongecake!

Just like in the book, where my hero is so much more than the stranger my heroine thinks him to be, this cupcake looks very ordinary until one bites into it. Inside awaits a surprise filling: blueberry lemon curd! The whole cupcake is then topped with Hint of Lemon Buttercream, and sprinkled with lemon zest. It’s unexpected, different, and best of all – yummy! (Side note: the lemon is a nod to my heroine, whose fresh, lemony scent entices the hero).

The following recipe makes 24 cupcakes:

Sponge Cake:

6 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2  teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

2 teaspoons lemon zest (as fine as possible)

1 cup cake flour

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325. Separate eggs. In a large mixing bowl, beat yolks until very thick and creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then the water, then both extracts and the lemon rind.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and salt, and beat mixture until stiff but still moist. Carefully fold the whites into the yolk mixture

Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until done.  Let sit five minutes in pan, then cool on rack.

PS – For an easy substitute, feel free to use boxed white or yellow cake. The blueberry lemon curd is the real star of this cupcake!

Blueberry Lemon Curd

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup fresh blueberries – mashed or puréed

2 and 1/2 tablespoons butter – cut into 1/8 inch pats

Either use a double broiler, or a medium saucepan with a metal bowl that will fit over it. Fill the pan with 1 inch water and bring to a simmer.

In the bowl or top of broiler, whisk yolks until thick and creamy. Slowly beat in sugar and whisk until well blended. Whisk in the blueberry purée, lemon juice and zest until well combined.  Set the bowl over the simmering water and stir constantly with a spatula, being sure to scrap the sides of the bowl. Continue until thickened, approximately 8-10 minutes. Note that the mixture will become pinker and pinker as it cooks.


Remove from heat. Add the butter pats one at a time, whisking to incorporate before adding the next.

Spoon into glass container and allow to cool before placing in fridge.

Hint of Lemon Buttercream

1/2 cup softened butter

2/3 cup shortening

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

2 or so tablespoons of whole milk

Cream together butter and shortening. Slowly add in powdered sugar. If the mixture becomes too thick, add milk as needed. Add both extracts and beat until smooth and creamy.

To assemble:

Core a small section of the cupcake. Fill the pocket with curd, then set the removed cake back on top. Top with frosting and lemon zest.


Now tell me: Are you adventurous with baking/cooking? Or do you like to stick to the tried and true recipes? What’s your favorite unusual cupcake flavor? Comment for a chance to win! Details of the giveaway HERE.

MORE THAN A STRANGER debuts June 5th


When his family abandoned him at Eton, Benedict Hastings found an unexpected ally in his best friend’s sister. Her letters kept him going—until the day he had to leave everything behind.  Years later, Benedict has seen his share of betrayal, but when treachery hits close to home, he turns to his old friend for safe haven….


After five torturous years on the marriage circuit, Lady Evelyn Moore is finally free to live her life as she wishes. So when her brother shows up with a dashing stranger, she finds herself torn between her dreams…and newfound desires.


Despite his determination to keep Evie at a distance, Benedict cannot deny the attraction that began with a secret correspondence. Yet as they begin to discover one another, the dangers of Benedict’s world find them, threatening their lives, their love, and everything they thought they could never have…

This entry was posted in Giveaways, Guests, Lis'Anne, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , by conniecockrell. Bookmark the permalink.

About conniecockrell

A 20-year Air Force career, time as a manager at a computer operations company, wife, mother, sister and volunteer, provides a rich background for Connie Cockrell’s story-telling. Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville, NY before she joined the military at age 18. Having lived in Europe, Great Britain, and several places around the United States, she now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing bunko. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre. She's published sixteen books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on and Connie's always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you may be the next one. She can be found at or on Facebook at: or on Twitter at: @ConnieCockrell or on Amazon at

35 thoughts on “In the Kitchen with Erin Knightley: More Than a Stranger…& Spongecake!

  1. It really depends upon my mood and who I am baking for. When I bake for my boys I use more traditional recipes for them. When I enter into baking contests I like to create recipes. Usually what ever sounds good at the time that fit within the guidelines of the contest.

  2. That cupcake looks so good! Blueberry and lemon are two of my favorites! I am not much of a baker, but I have gotten more adventerous with my cooking since I recently got a bigger kitchen. It’s amazing how willing I am to cook now that I have room to move around!

    • Hi Renee!
      It was a moment of inspiration when I decided to add the blueberry to the recipe – and providence that I had them in the first place! And I’m with you – once my new kitchen was finished, I am ALL about some cooking now!

  3. Erin! Welcome to Chicklets! And OMG those cupcakes look SO GOOD. How long do they take to make? I hate spending hours in the kitchen for something that takes a minute to eat. (And the way my kids eat, it would only take a minute.)

    I usually stick to the recipe first, and get adventurous later. Though I don’t think I’ve done that with cupcakes.

    • Thanks so much for having me, Abigail! I’m used to making recipes from scratch, so it does take a bit longer. The curd was about 15 minutes total (really easy, just constant stirring or whisking), the cupcakes took about 10 minutes to make, 15 minutes to bake, then of course the cooling time. The icing about 5 mins.
      The assembly was really easy – I put both the curd and the frosting in icing bags, so it was only a second to do each one. If you did want to save time, the curd was far and away the best part of the recipe. Use store-bought white or yellow cake and canned vanilla frosting with a half a teaspoon of lemon extract if you prefer.
      Oh, and the curd was fantastic on toast, and I bet it would be the perfect pairing with a scone!

  4. Ok. I do try to experiment on some recipes. For example I made a marshmallow cupcake. Let’s put it out there that it was an EPIC fail. However, when it comes to scones I have a coconut & white chocolate one that is pretty good. My ham & cheese scone wasn’t bad just needed less sugar & a little more smoke otherwise it would have perfect. My s’more scone wasn’t bad.

    Anyways I digress. My favorite cupcake was from a place call crush cakes and they had the best margarita cupcakennim still looking for a good cupcake store. No luck. I might need to go back to Cali.

    • LOL – I’ve made marshmallow frosting before, Melody, but I’ve never heard of marshmallow cupcakes! Below is a recipe from Martha Stewart, only I added more vanilla. It’s delicious!! I also have a Margarita cupcake recipe to die for, but it is the one and only recipe I haven’t shared yet. I baker must have at least ONE secret!!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Marshmallow frosting
      – 8 large egg whites
      – 2 cups sugar
      – ½ tsp cream of tartar
      – 2 ½ tsp vanilla extract

      Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

      Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately

  5. Congratulations on your debut release! Your book cover is absolutely gorgeous! 🙂

    I’ve never been a fan of anything lemon, but with the addition of blueberry (the most awesomest fruit in the universe in my estimation) I might like it. I can tell you, those cupcakes look heavenly and I’d definitely shove the whole thing in my mouth! 😉

    • Thanks so much, Lis! It’s a delight to be here today 🙂
      And lol on the blueberries – I feel EXACTLY the same way. Blueberries are to fruit what bacon is to, well, all food groups 😉
      BTW- that is precisely what my husband did with the cupcakes!

  6. I’d love a Midnight Margarita cupcake! These taste so good!!!!!!!

    For the Cupcakes:
    1½ cups all-purpose flour
    1½ teaspoons baking powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    Zest and juice of 1½ limes
    2 tablespoons tequila
    ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ cup buttermilk

    To Brush the Cupcakes:
    1 to 2 tablespoons tequila

    For the Tequila-Lime Frosting:
    1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2¾ cups powdered sugar
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    2 tablespoons tequila
    Pinch of coarse salt

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

    3. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

    4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

    5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together, power on!)

    6. Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.

    7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point.

    8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.

    9. To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge.

  7. You have got to be kidding me – this has got to be the most amazing, creative, delicious looking cupcake I have ever seen in my life!! I’LL TAKE TWO DOZEN!!! Man, you’re good.

  8. OMG, I think I gained 5 pounds just reading the blog and all the comments! 🙂 Thanks for sharing…I think.

    Erin, congrats on your release day!! Much success and many wonderful HEAs to you!

  9. Sometimes I like to try new recipes, but not very adventurous in the kitchen on my own…..but I do like your spongecake recipe it sounds delicious……Kimmyl’s Midnight Margarita Cupcakes sound great too…..I love Margarita’s

  10. I am looking forward to reading your new book. And I would like to give your recipe a try. I am not much of a baker, but I do make Pumpkin Nut Bread for the holidays and Irish soda Bread for St Patricks Day.

  11. Personally I don’t like cake/cupcakes very much. So when I bake things for my family I stick with the boring boxed mixes. However, my sister is a pastry chef so usually I don’t have to make anything, she does all the work.

    Grats on the realease!

  12. I just got a Kitchenaid mixer so I want to start experimenting with that. I’ve mostly stuck to the same recipes in the past, so we’ll see what happens. I copied out your recipe plus the one for Margaritta cupcakes. Lovely snacks to have with a cup of tea while reading a good book.
    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  13. Wow, I’m envious. He cleans up for you? I might attempt more baking if that was the case in our house 🙂 Those all look delicious! I’m a out of the box kind of girl, just easier for now. Someday I hope to be a bit more adventurous!

  14. I’ve quite boring when it comes to cooking and baking….pretty much stay with the same old recipes. And as for cupcakes, I am a chocolate lover, so chocolate cupcakes are my favorite. Again, boring, but delicious!


  15. I love to bake! I am more adventurous taking things to my family’s house than my husband’s. They call me the dessert queen. I don’t wanna give up the title, so I use my family as the guinea pigs…lol.

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