Sunday, 19 February 2012

Caramel-filled chocolate cupcakes with caramel buttercream icing - I've died and gone to heaven!

They (I still don’t know who ‘they’ are) say men think about you know what every six seconds, well I can beat that, because I think about cakes every second of every day. Sometimes I don’t even want to eat the cakes (okay not very often), I just want to make them then put them proudly on a fancy cake stand and admire them, alone, drooling. God, I need to get a life.

The last few weeks have seen me stuck in a bit of a ‘work, eat sleep’ pattern with not very much in between, so I’ve found my mind wandering into cake land more than ever (and what a blissful place it is).

Last weekend me and Paul were seeing family, including four children under four, so I thought I’d better make some sweet treats. The visitors were just an excuse in all honesty as I’d wanted to make these caramel cupcakes for weeks after coming up with the idea one night when I should have been doing something much more productive.

I know cooks shouldn’t comment on their own food, but I’m not a cook so I will proudly proclaim that these are the best damn cakes I have ever made. There’s no room for modesty here, they are totally amazing and I want to eat them over and over again until I cry tears of caramel.

They went down well with the family, especially Paul's newphew Arthur who asked “what’s caramel?” before promptly stuffing one in his tiny mouth and getting buttercream all over his little face. I take that as a sign of success.

I also discovered that the caramel filling tastes incredible as a warm sauce poured over vanilla ice-cream, but no matter how much of it I ate, there was still enough caramel left to make caramel shortcakes the next day. (See my blog from September 11, 2011 for the recipe.)

This recipe will make about 12-15 cakes and it needs to be done in stages.

Stage One – Make the caramel filling
Put 150g unsalted butter and 150g dark brown sugar into a non-stick saucepan over a low heat. Stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
Add a 397g tin of condensed milk and bring gently to the boil, stirring continuously. As soon as it comes to the boil and is a bubbling golden caramel, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Stage Two – Make the chocolate cupcakes

6oz vegetable margarine
6oz caster sugar
3 eggs
4.5oz self raising flour
1.5oz cocoa powder

Line a muffin tray with paper cases and pre-heat the oven to180 degrees.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl, starting with the margarine, sugar, then eggs, and flour.
Mix using an electric hand mixer – starting on low speed until all the ingredients are mixed, then increasing the speed until the mixture is creamy and a soft dropping consistency.
Spoon into cases until half full (they will rise quite a bit) and bake for around 15-20 minutes until springy to touch and a skewer or knife comes out clean. Leave to cool.

Stage Three – Make the caramel icing
Melt 115g margarine or unsalted butter in saucepan over a low heat.
Add 200g dark brown sugar and 60ml milk and bring to the boil, stirring continuously to dissolve the sugar.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool. (You can use this time to prepare the cakes) Once cooled, beat in 220g icing sugar until smooth.

Stage Four – Filling cakes
Once the cakes are cool (usually okay after an hour or so in a cold kitchen), get a small sharp knife and cut out a triangle from the middle. Slice the bottom off so you are just left with a circle to cover the hole, and set aside (and enjoy eating the spare bits!!).
Dollop the filling into the middle and place the circle on top to cover.  


Stage Five – Icing the cakes
Once you’ve added icing sugar to the icing mixture, it might benefit from being in the fridge for an hour so it’s not too sloppy when you try to pipe it.
Put it into a piping bag with a star nozzle and swirl on top of the cakes, from the centre outwards. Then sprinkle with broken up Caramac bars or whatever you prefer!! 

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