I’m not one to resist the strong tides of food trends, especially when they bring in caramel that’s (sea) salted. So these salted caramel cupcakes have been begging for exposure since I first made them over the summer. Rich chocolate sponge cupcakes with a super-sweet, very slightly salted caramel buttercream icing. Perfect for Halloween!
For the cupcakes:
140g caster sugar
40g butter, softened
100g plain flour
20g good-quality cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
120ml whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the caramel buttercream icing:
200g granulated sugar
100ml double cream
115g butter (with added salt) softened
A bit of water
You will need to start making the icing first for this recipe as it takes a bit of time to prepare.
Pour a bit of water into a saucepan, enough to just cover the base (about half a centimetre or so) and add the granulated sugar. On a low heat, stir in the sugar and keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. When it feels smooth and has lost its grittiness, continue to stir as it boils to a golden-caramel colour – you may need to add a tiny bit of water as it boils to keep it loose. Remove from the heat and add the double cream and stir it in and leave to cool. Once it has cooled, pour the mix into a glass bowl and put it into the fridge to set.
Now make the sponge for the cupcakes.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3.
Put the sugar and butter in a bowl and stir until it’s a creamy consistency. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and add the salt and gently beat all of the ingredients together with a hand held electric whisk until it’s a nice sandy consistency.
Pour in half the milk and stir until just incorporated.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and pour in the remaining milk to the sandy flour mixture. Continue beating until it is just incorporated – make sure not to over-mix as the sponge will be heavy and dense as opposed to beautiful and light!
Carefully pour the mixture into paper cases until just over half full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until they are pale gold in colour and springy to the touch. Leave the cupcakes to cool while you continue to make the icing.
Fetch the caramel mixture from the fridge. Whisk the butter with a handheld electric whisk until it’s light and creamy. Add the butter to the caramel mixture a spoonful at a time, whisking in between, until it’s completely incorporated. Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to spoon onto the cupcakes. Wow your Halloween guests with your not-at-all-scary baking skills!
Sponge that springs – icing can sing – caramel – caramow – wow butters – salty suckers – lip smackers – slippy sugar shakers – cake bakers. Like you and me!