Have you ever had one of those weeks where someone mentions something you never ever think about and all of a sudden, that something is all you can think about for days on end?
Yeah, that happened to me a couple weeks ago.
Except that someone was a couple of radio DJs chatting on air and that something was cupcakes.
Now, to understand how bizarre this all was for me, there are two things you need to know.
For starters, I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes. Sure, they are petite and cute and all but aesthetics aside, I’ll take a slice of good cake over a cupcake any day.
Which brings me to point number two; I never, ever dream of making cupcakes.
But all it took was a couple mentions of cupcakes on air and all of a sudden, it became my short-term life mission to make myself some cupcakes and get them out of my system for once and for all. And that, my friends, was in a nutshell how I found myself elbow deep in flour and sugar, lining a much neglected cupcake pan, one Sunday afternoon.
For all the talk I do about how I’m not really big on cupcakes, I have to admit that these salted caramel cupcakes had me swooning right from the start. I took one swipe of the salted caramel sauce as I was about to put it into the fridge to cool and seriously had to restrain myself from throwing out my cupcake plans and just lounging in front of the tv with the sauce and a spoon.
And the frosting- oh the silk meringue frosting- was just seriously amazing. Light, incredibly smooth with a delicious hint of salted caramel flavour, it was without a doubt the best frosting I’ve ever had or made- and so much less finicky that my old favourite silk meringue frosting.
So it pretty much is an understatement when I say that between their moist cake crumb, luscious salted caramel frosting and delicious salted caramel sauce drizzled over, these cupcakes had me thinking twice, between bites, about my stance on these adorable miniature cakes.
Now, I might have needed a little shove (or random talk) to get me to make these cupcakes but I certainly won’t be needing any more nudging to keep going on the cupcake wagon- especially if they involve copious amounts of my new favourite silk meringue frosting.
Caramel Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting [Cupcake recipe adapted from Carole Bloom's The Essential Baker, frosting recipe adapted from Jill O'Conner's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey]Note: I know this recipe runs kinda long but there really is nothing else much to it other than making the caramel sauce (and keeping a close eye on it). The only major changes I made to the recipes was to tweak the original caramel bourbon frosting, seriously reduce the amount of sugar in the cupcakes, added caramel sauce to them and reduced the amount of butter (by more than half!) in the frosting. The silk meringue frosting does require a little patience but it will be so worth it, I promise you (and if you don’t like it, please feel free to send it my way). Seriously, make this – you can thank me later.
Salted caramel sauce
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp coarse salt
130g salted butter, cubed
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp salted caramel sauce
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
Salted caramel frosting
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g salted butter, cubed
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce, cooled
- To make salted caramel sauce Combine the caster sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves and starts to change colour, gently swirling the pan occasionally. Cook the syrup until it turns a deep golden color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the cream immediately. Return the pan to heat and cook the caramel, stirring constantly, till it thickens. Stir in the salt and let the caramel cool completely.
- To make cupcakes Preheat the oven at 175C. Line one cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the caster and brow sugar and cream together throughly, scrapping the sides of the bowl down occasionally. Add the eggs in, one at a time, until thoroughly combined.
- Add the salted caramel sauce to the mixture, beating well to combine. Alternating between the flour mixture and the milk, add the flour mixture and milk, mixing well each time.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake cups. Bake the cupcakes in the centre of the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcakes come out with moist crumbs clinging. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool completely before frosting.
- To make salted caramel frosting Combine the eggs and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar together over the simmering water until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is thick and fluffy and very hot, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from heat and beat the eggs on medium high speed until they are tripled in volume, form soft peaks and the bottom of the bowl is completely cool to touch, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Add the butter cubes to the egg mixture gradually, beating well after each addition. When the frosting is smooth and glossy, fold in the salted caramel sauce.
- To assemble Using a large star tip, fill a large piping bag with the frosting and pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with remaining salted caramel sauce.