Vanilla Cupcakes with Pomegranate Swirls

“Plain as vanilla
With a wintery splash,
Color and moisture
In a cupcake stash.
You don’t have to complicate
My mum used to say,
For a dessert satisfying
Or fancy and gourmet.
With a world of worries
Keep something straight,
Mix it up good
And let it magically bake.
And when it emerges
Moist, with happiness within,
Like a mother’s cuddle
You’ll let yourself sink..”
Keep it simple, mummy used to say. And this day, what would have been her 57th b'day, I decided to do just that. With the simplicity of a vanilla cupcake, and a dash of winter fruit color, these cupcakes are warm, moist, indulgent and addictive - much like a mother's love. 
My mother was an avid baker. Back in the day when baking wasn't quite considered art...or anything worth doing - at least not in India - she had enrolled in and completed a cake making & decorating course. "Our instructor, plump as a plum, must be eating most of what she [and we] bake", she used to joke. Her swift sifting movements, proud use of an "imported" hand mixer, frequent licks of batter and fast vanishing cakes were always the bigger, happier moments at home. And the smell. Oh the smell of a cake fresh out of the oven was enough to make us do any chore! 
I miss her every single day, and baking brings back a part of her to me. And since I don't consider myself quite the cake perfectionist [I hate measurements remember!], when something does turn out as well as these did, I can only wonder if she lent me a hand....
Happy B'day Mum. Love you always x
Ingredients (makes 24 mini cupcakes)
For the cupcakes
1 large egg
¼ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons vanilla coffee creamer (I used Nestle Coffee Mate)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/3 cup brown sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
For the swirl
¾ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup water
Make the swirl
Blend the pomegranate, sugar and water together in a food processor. Run it through a sieve and transfer to a non stick pan. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens and the sugar begins to caramelize (approximately 7-9 minutes). Keep stirring till you receive a jam like consistency. Turn off heat and keep aside.
Make the cupcakes
Pre heat the oven to 350F.
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda and keep aside.
Mix the milk & creamer and keep aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat vigorously for a few minutes till the mixture turns white and airy. I used my hands to do this so took me around 10 minutes, but with a hand mixer it should be a couple of minutes.
Working in batches, add to the batter a few tablespoons of the flour mixture, followed by the milk mixture. Mix well after each addition. Do this till all the flour and milk has been incorporated.
Transfer the batter to a mini muffin pan and add a dollop of the pomegranate jam on top of each cupcake. Using a toothpick or skewer, slowly mix the jam into the batter, so as to form swirls. Do not over mix.Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. A couple of these, a warm cup of chai and a lovable hug. Life doesn't get more perfect than that.