Originally Answered: What is the difference between a friand and a muffin/cupcake?
In Australia, Friands are in cafes everywhere. They are similar to muffins in that they are composed of a bottom, or "stump," and a rounded top. A birds-eye view of a friand reveals an oval, rather than circular, shape. Friands are typically made from almond meal, butter, sugar, egg whites and flour. They usually have a flavor folded through them such as blueberries, figs, apricots, chocolate or citrus. They taste and feel similar to madelines, which take their place in American cafes.
Friands, which originally come from French cuisine, are also known as financier
Friand: Small dessert made from almond meal, sugar, eggs and flavouring
A muffin is a type of bread that is baked in small portions. Many forms are somewhat like small cakes or cupcakes in shape, although they usually are not as sweet as cupcakes and generally lack frosting. Savory varieties, such as cornbread muffins, also exist. They generally fit in the palm of an adult hand, and are intended to be consumed by an individual in a single sitting.
There are many varieties and flavors of muffins made with a specific ingredient such as blueberries, chocolate chips, cucumbers, raspberry, cinnamon, pumpkin, date, nut, lemon, banana, orange, peach, strawberry, boysenberry, almond, and carrot, baked into the muffin. Muffins are often eaten for breakfast; alternatively, they may be served for tea or at other meals.
A cupcake (the common US, Canadian, South African and Australian term) or fairy cake (the common British and Irish term), is a small cake designed to serve one person, frequently baked in a small, thin paper or aluminum cup. As with larger cakes, frosting and other cake decorations, such as sprinkles, are common on cupcakes.
A standard cupcake uses the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Nearly any recipe that is suitable for a layer cake can be used to bake cupcakes. Because their small size is more efficient for heat conduction, cupcakes bake much faster than layer cakes
Found this rather amusing explanation of the differences between muffins & cupcakes:
There might be some technical differences that a cook could tell us about, but from the consumer's point of view, the difference seems to be that a cupcake really is like a miniature cake: light in weight, sweet, and often covered with icing and decorations. It tends to be not too tall because it's texture isn't strong enough to allow for a very tall structure. It's always made with white flour as far as I know. A muffin is significantly heavier in texture and also in weight; with its cohesiveness, it can contain fruit, nuts or chocolate chips, which are not common in cupcakes. It is never iced and need not be particularly sweet. It can be made with ingredients as heavy as bran, and can be rather tall and have a large overhanging rim that doesn't threaten to fall off. (The cupcake also has a rim, but it is rather delicate and not too large.)
If you threw a cupcake against the wall, you would hear something of a "poof!" If you threw a muffin, you would hear a "thud!"
A muffin goes with coffee, a cupcake with tea. (That's a rather controversial statement, so perhaps this discussion should be moved to the controversial topics zone.) Fast food joints deal in muffins, especially in North America, but I have never seen one that sold a cupcake. Sociologically, a muffin is everyday living, whereas a cupcake is "we're getting fancy." Theoretically, a man could say, "hey honey" to his waitress while he was chewing on a muffin, but with cupcake in his mouth he could only say, "my dear." If you were writing a novel, it would be a gross literary error to substitute a cupcake for a muffin.