Sunday, 21 September 2014

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

So I thought I'd be adventurous and try this salted caramel craze that everyone seems to be tapping into nowadays....
For a long time I've always thought that sweet and salty foods should be in separate categories- NEVER MIXED. And this went on for a long time throughout my teenage years (eww Mum what on earth are pineapple and cheese doing on the same stick? Pineapple on a thanks!) This vendetta finally came to an end when my sister made me try the wonder that is sweet and salty popcorn. First of all, there was the confusion and insecurity in what I was eating (is it sweet, is it salty..what the heck is this?) Then after a couple of seconds came acceptance (ooo it's nice, can I have my own bowlful? *hashtag -Friends Salt Water Taffy episode- for those who know what scene I'm referring to) 

So anyway thanks to my sister, I now understand why people go crazy about sweet and salt in the same food-stuff. It really wakens up the taste buds.

Ever since my sweet-salt senses were awakened, I've been wanting to make something with salted caramel, a) because I love caramel and b) everyone seems to be trying this flavour so I thought I'd see what the fuss is all about. Turns out, the salted caramel lovers have a right to be crazy about this flavour! I really enjoyed making these cupcakes and enjoyed eating one even more (you didn't seriously think I could eat 12 of these did you?!) Anyway, here's my recipe, with the help of a caramel recipe I found online.

150g/ 6oz light brown muscovado sugar
150g/6oz margarine
150g/6oz self-raising flour
3 eggs (beaten)
1tsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 cubes of fudge
Caramel Sauce (also see this page):
200g/ 8oz granulated sugar
50g/ 2oz salted butter
75ml/ 2.5 fl oz water
200ml /7 fl oz condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Buttercream Icing/ Decoration
150g/ 6oz salted butter
30g/ 12oz icing sugar
5-6 tbs caramel sauce + extra for decoration (see above)
A few sprinkles of fudge/toffee/caramel decorations

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/ Gas 4/ 350F and line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases. Make the cupcakes: Cream the margarine, sugar, golden syrup and vanilla extract together until pale. I find using a handheld electric mixer grinds the sugar down better.

2) Sieve in a third of the flour, adding a third of the beaten egg and mix thoroughly. Repeat with the rest of the egg and flour, mixing until the ingredients are well combined.

3) Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases. Grate the fudge cubes evenly over the batter. You don’t need a lot of fudge on the top; about a pinch-full will do. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch or a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool before you ice them.

4) Make the caramel sauce: Over a medium heat stir the sugar and water together until they come to the boil. NOW STOP STIRRING. Allow the sugar water to boil for 10-15 minutes, tilting the saucepan occasionally. Take the pan off the heat once the sugar water has changed from clear to a nice caramel colour. Stir in the condensed milk and then the vanilla extract, being careful not to scrape the sides-the consistency will be weird at first but keep stirring. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition. Pour into a jug and allow to cool.

5) Once the cupcakes are cooled, make a hole in the middle of each one with a skewer. Using about half of the caramel, fill the cupcakes with the beautiful golden stuff with a spoon or piping bag.

6) Make the buttercream icing: Quickly fluff up the butter in a mixing bowl either with a handheld electric whisk or a wooden spoon. Sieve in a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar at a time and cream the two ingredients together. Repeat until almost all of the icing sugar has been incorporated. Add about 4-5 tablespoons of the caramel sauce followed by the remaining icing sugar and mix thoroughly to combine. (I always find a handheld mixer makes the lightest, fluffiest buttercream icing, compared to when you do it by hand). At this stage it’s important you taste your icing-especially for such a flavour as salted caramel. It may need more sugar, salt, caramel or it may be perfect. Add more of something if you feel it’s necessary.

7) Pipe or spread the buttercream icing onto the cupcakes. Put the remainder of the caramel sauce into another piping bag, fitted with a writing nozzle and decorate the cupcakes as desired with caramel sauce (alternatively just spoon the caramel over the cupcakes if you don’t have a piping bag). Follow with a sprinkle of little fudge cubes, or anything else caramelly, fudgey or toffee-ey related you have in your baking cupboard.