As I was devouring my triple chocolate muffin for breakfast this morning, the "age-old" question popped into my mind once more and I proceeded to type into Google search box, "what's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?"
It quickly became evident that the question is in fact "age-old" in that there are many inquisitors and nearly as many versions of a small core group or responses. Here's a brief summary:
- Cupcakes have frosting, muffins don't.
- Cupcakes are a dessert item, muffins are a breakfast item.
- References to different "cooking processes" (this I found particularly peculiar).
- References to moisture content (muffins are dryer, cupcakes are moister).
- This is a good one, "most American muffins fall into the bread category (based on formulation/recipe) while cupcakes, as the name implies, are smaller versions of cakes."
- When the ratio of fat, sugar, and eggs roughly double, in comparison to the "basic muffin recipe", then we are in "cake territory".
While it could be argued that any of the above or other responses may or may not be true, the reality is that where it counts, on the surface, there is no difference, at least not any more. At one time, in the early days of muffins and cupcakes, perhaps there was a distinct line in the sand that delineated which was which, this is no longer true.
Ultimately, it's a matter of perception. If I tell you that I had a cupcake for breakfast, it can easily be perceived that I have a sweet tooth and ate something unhealthy. However, if I ate a "triple-chocolate muffin" (as I did today) and simply told you that I ate a muffin, you won't give it a second thought.