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The iced cupcakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Any leftover decorated cupcakes are still good the next day.
To make the icing, whip the soft cheese for 1-2 minutes until really soft and smooth; this is to stop the icing going lumpy when you add the butter. Scrape in the soft butter plus a pinch of salt and beat again. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth. Chill to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases. Cream the butter and sugar with a pinch of sea salt, for at least 2-3 minutes using an electric mixer, until really pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, followed by the vanilla, then the flour. Add enough milk so that the batter will drop easily from a spoon.
Divide the batter between the cases and bake for 18-20 minutes until cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.
Use the tip of a sharp serrated knife to cut and scoop out a bit of sponge from the top of each cupcake. Fill with a spoonful of salted caramel sauce, then pop the section of sponge back on top.
Spread or pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes. Scatter with crushed shortbread, then add sunbathing jelly babies or seaside-themed sweets, gold stars (if using) and parasols.