I Made Ketchup Cupcakes So You Don't Have To

by Karen Miner

Ketchup. A lot of people would have you believe it is THE wonder condiment, meant to complement all sorts of foods with its sweet and tangy presence. To a degree, this is true — ketchup certainly has its place in many a meal. But then there are those people who put ketchup on EVERYTHING. You probably know someone who does this. You spend hours making a delightful dinner only to have them squeeze ketchup all over their plate without so much as a bite to see if maybe, just maybe, the dishes you spent all day slaving over just might be good enough without sugary tomato sauce dripping off each bite. Don't get me wrong — I don't have anything against ketchup, I just happen to think that my meatloaf is perfectly fine without it. 

But show me a recipe for ketchup cake, and well, of course I need to try it.

So, let's put the ol' "ketchup makes everything better" theory to work and see if everyone's favorite condiment is so all-powerful that it can improve dessert. I had my doubts...

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Heinz developed this recipe a few years ago to celebrate its 100th anniversary in Canada. And since every celebration needs cake, it stands to reason that their cake would have ketchup in it. But don't let that knee-jerk reaction (you know, the one where you mime gagging) stop you from trying it. 

Because, spoiler alert: You can't taste the ketchup. You would never guess in a million years that the secret ingredient in this recipe the very same thing you dip your fries in.

But the weird thing is, I actually wanted these cupcakes to taste like ketchup. I mean, I didn't just spend a couple hours baking (which is not my favorite pastime) to make plain old cupcakes. I wanted something unique to show for my effort. Something that people would taste and cock their heads in question. Something that people couldn't quite put their finger on. Instead I got light, fluffy cupcakes, vaguely resembling red velvet, and vaguely tasting like spice cake. I'm sure the ketchup adds a kind of savory-sweet umami, but dammit, I wanted ketchup cupcakes to taste like ketchup. 

Not that there's anything wrong with these cupcakes... It's just not going to be the same fun when you tell someone that they just ate a ketchup cupcake because it tastes too usual to mean anything. The solution here might be ketchup frosting. Now THAT would be unique. 

Maybe those ketchup-all-over-everything people are on to something after all.