Maneet Chauhan's Tip For Taking Store-Bought Cupcakes To A New Level

There's something special about a store-bought cupcake that evokes childhood memories of birthday parties and backyard barbecues. Sometimes, you want a homemade cupcake but may not have the time or energy to whip up cupcakes from scratch. Before you feel bad about having to take shortcuts, know that even celebrity chefs bring store-bought cupcakes to parties. Tournament of Champions second season winner and restaurateur Maneet Chauhan, who specializes in modern Indian cuisine, uses chutneys to take her store-bought cupcakes up a notch.

Chauhan buys pre-made vanilla cupcakes and then whips up different homemade chutneys to place atop the cupcakes. The chutneys not only add flavor but a textural component that makes the cupcake look and taste far more fancy than it is. Chauhan particularly enjoys a pumpkin spice chutney with a sprinkling of pumpkin spice and sugar on top to create a unique dessert that mimics the flavors of pumpkin pie — especially great for those who are not pie fans. If pumpkin isn't your jam, try an apple or pecan chutney for a festive holiday treat or an elevated cupcake anytime.

Sweet chutney is perfect for dessert

For those wondering what chutney is, it's an Indian condiment made with fruit and spices. While it can be spicy, you'll probably want to leave out anything with extreme heat if you're topping cupcakes. Chutney typically includes vinegar, which adds a tangy note that can help cut through the richness of a cupcake frosting. Chutney is meant to be chunky, unlike a smooth sauce or frosting, so it adds a unique texture to the typically soft cupcake. Chutneys are inherently a little savory in addition to sweet, which can be a nice balance for a super sweet dessert like a cupcake.

When it comes to making the chutney, you'll need whatever fruit you would like, plus spices, sugar, and vinegar. For some of her favorite chutney recipes, Chauhan suggests heading to an Indian supermarket to find some unique spices like turmeric and Panch puran. Even in her peach chutney, which has brown sugar and peaches, she adds a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for just a subtle heat. When it comes to adding the chutney to the pre-made cupcakes, Chauhan tops them with a spoonful. However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cupcakes, so feel free to cover the top or even stuff it inside the cupcake for a nice fruity surprise.