Caramel cupcakes with fudge frosting
Caramel, also known as dulce de leche, offspring of condensed milk, may be my downfall in life. It is amazing. I can’t wait to one day try alfajores. And Sky High has a recipe for an entire dulce de leche triple-layered cake. I am itching to find someone with as much love for it as me, so that I have a legitimate excuse to make it. I’m not sure I’ve ever made a cake for myself. Seems like an odd idea after everything else I bake for (birthdays, celebrations, weddings, charity cycle rides…the sheer aesthetic joy of it). But I just came back from the movie Bridesmaids, where the protagonist bakes one, beautiful, exquisitely decorated, lone cupcake. She stares at it with joy. The camera pans back to a shot of the cupcake which would make a food photographer tear up a little. And then she picks it up and crams it in her mouth so quickly the frosting probably ends up in her hair. In real life, how often do bakers truly make things for themselves I wonder. Maybe rarely…or maybe its just me that prefers a bit of nibbling followed by prompt donation / offloading / sale onto someone else.
This recipe is the second taken and adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery’s second book (Cake Days) (see Classic Vanilla Cupcakes for the other). It consistently makes more cupcakes than they state – I got 20 cupcakes from a recipe that states 12-16, using standard muffin cases. They’re interesting cupcakes, because the extra milk (and very little butter compared to other recipes) makes them quite light. These could almost be vanilla cupcakes, save the glorious caramel which colours the sponge and leave a darker, sweeter aftertaste to the cupcakes. I skipped the caramel frosting recommended for these and turned once again to my new favourite, instant fudge frosting. Anything that gets made in a blender and requires no icing sugar clouds and multiple bowls to be washed earns undying loyalty.
- 3 oz butter / marg
- 9 oz castor sugar (I reduced this from 10 oz, crazy)
- 8.5 oz plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 240 mL whole milk (1 cup)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 150 g tinned caramel (commonly by Carnation, next to the condensed milk)
- 100 g dark chocolate, melted
- 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 200g butter, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp milk or single cream
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
- some spare caramel and a bit of milk, to decorate.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 oC and line two muffin trays with muffin cases. Take the flour (sifted), sugar, baking powder and butter and mix by hand (or a slow mixer) until all the butter is evenly distributed and it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Next, mix the eggs and milk together in a jug with the vanilla. Add 3/4 of the jug’s contents to the flour and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the remaining milk mixture together with the caramel and mix until smooth. It may seem too liquidy, but the cupcakes come out a treat, never fear gentle readers! Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (mine took 22 for the top tray). They will look golden on top and lightly springy to touch. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, melt the chocolate first and then give it 5-10 mins to cool down a little. Put everything (unsifted) into a food processor, including the chocolate, and whizz for a couple of minutes. The frosting will be a light brown, beautifully smooth piece of artwork. It will also taste dangerously addictive (be warned). Slather generously over the cupcakes once cooled. Finally, take some caramel and mix with a little milk until it has become runnier in consistency. Pour into a piping bag with a fine nozzle and drizzle a la Michelin chefs (well, old Michelin chefs, before the days of exciting things like foams and LN2) artistically over your caramel fudge creations.