Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a colleague’s birthday using my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe for the cakes, topped with a generous helping of salted caramel buttercream frosting and then drizzled with some extra caramel. The frosting would be equally good on chocolate cupcakes (like my fudgy flourless chocolate cupcakes or these lighter chocolate cupcakes). To make these even more caramel-y, next time I might scoop out a teaspoon or so of cake from each cooked cupcake and fill it with extra caramel (I don’t like to do things by half, okay?!)

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Ingredients (makes ~30 large cupcakes)
Salted Caramel
250g caster sugar
75ml water
120ml pouring cream
200g salted butter

Vanilla Cupcakes
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting 
150g salted butter, softened
3 tablespoons salted caramel
6 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Sea salt, to taste

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Method
To make the caramel, heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Without stirring much, watch over the sugar until it becomes a light-brown caramel colour (be patient, it does take a little while, but don’t be tempted to leave it as once it colours it colours quickly!)

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Add the pouring cream, little by little, while gently stirring (be careful while it foams up as it can spit).

Once the cream is fully incorporated, keep stirring on the heat for a further minute or two (if you want to be scientific, heat it until it reaches 108°C on a sugar thermometer).

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Remove from the heat and add the butter in small pieces. Stir until smooth and then set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C-ish fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans.

To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture).

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about ¾ full) and bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add 2 tablespoons of the salted caramel, a pinch of salt and half of the icing sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add a further 2 tablespoons of caramel and the remaining icing sugar and beat until combined and of a spreadable consistency – add a splash of milk if too dry, more icing sugar if too wet, and add more salted caramel and salt as required until you’re happy with the flavour.

Add frosting into a piping bag fitted with desired nozzle (I used my Wilton 2B tip) and pipe a generous amount of frosting onto each cupcake. Drizzle each cupcake with the remaining salted caramel (I heated mine again so it was easier to drizzle) and enjoy!

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Salted caramel recipe adapted from ‘Secrets of Macarons’ by José Marechal.

Vanilla cupcake and base buttercream recipes adapted from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook.

Salted Caramel Blondies

These delicious blondies taste like a cross between choc chip cookies and cake. Be careful not to over cook them as they’re definitely best when fudgy.

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Ingredients (Makes about 25 blondies)
180g unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups plain flour
Sea salt flakes
½  cup white chocolate melts
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C (or 170 fan-forced). Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract.

Gently stir in the flour and a pinch of sea salt. Carefully fold in the chocolate, making sure it is evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt over the top and then bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the outside is cooked and the middle has a slight wobble.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle once more with a pinch or two of salt, and allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tin. Gently remove the blondie from the tin by the baking paper and leave to cool for a further 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack.

Once cool, cut into squares. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Callum Hann’s ‘Salted Dirty Blondies’ in I’d Eat That, 2014.

 

Caramel Slice

I love caramel slice but am constantly disappointed by the thick-bottomed, chalky and bland mass-produced stuff you buy at many cafes around the place. Instead, when I can be bothered, I make my own… and it’s amazing (if I do say so myself). The recipe originally came from my Mum’s high school cookbook and I am eternally grateful to the Annesley College Mothers’ Club for sharing it. It is very simple to make, using very few ingredients, and is perfect for occasions when you’re asked to ‘bring a plate’. The hardest part is not eating it all in one sitting (which is why I often make a double batch).

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Ingredients
Base:
185g plain flour
125g butter, softened
60g sugar

Caramel layer:
125g butter, chopped
125g sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ tin condensed milk

Topping:
150g dark cooking chocolate

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Method
To make the base, grease and line a swiss roll tin (or lamington tin – whatever you have, it will just alter the thickness of each layer) and preheat the oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan-forced). Rub butter into flour, add sugar and press evenly into the prepared tin. Bake for 20mins or until golden brown.

To make the caramel, put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk into a heavy-based saucepan and boil for 5 minutes, stirring all the time (pay particular attention and scrape the bottom of the pan, otherwise it will burn).

Pour over the base. Leave to cool for about an hour.

Finally, to make the topping, melt the chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pour over the caramel.

Once set, cut into even squares using a knife dipped in hot water between each slice (so it cuts easily and leaves the layers intact).

Enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘Caramel Slice’ in the Annesley College Mothers’ Club Cookbook

Caramel & Pear Upside-down Cake

First off, I would like to apologise profusely for my extended hiatus! No, I didn’t hibernate through winter (quite), instead I was on holidays in the Greek Islands and then my time was filled with Birthdays, work & uni assessment.

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However, today I have an absolutely delicious recipe for you; one so good that only moments ago I finished gobbling up a piece and felt I had to share it right away!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
180g  butter
⅝ cup brown sugar (really annoying I know but just do one ½ cup & then half of a ¼ cup)
2 large pears, peeled & quartered (I actually used 4 small pears)
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup almond meal
1 cup self-raising flour
⅜ cups milk (again, super weird but it works!!)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and grease and line a round 23cm springform cake tin.

Melt 60g of the butter in a small saucepan and then stir in brown sugar over a low heat until combined.

Pour the caramel mixture into the base of your prepared tin.

Arrange your pears on the caramel any way you like with the curved side down. I didn’t really make mine look pretty but if I wanted to impress, I would cut my pears more thinly and arrange them in a fan-like pattern.

Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar. Once combined, add eggs, almond meal and spices and beat until combined. Finally, add flour and milk and beat until just combined.

Pour the batter over your pears and bake in the oven for between 50-60 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean).

Allow the cake to sit in the tin for around 15 minutes before turning out.

Serve with cream or ice-cream and a dusting of icing sugar if desired.IMG_9086

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Recipe adapted from ‘Caramel pear cake’ on BestRecipes.com.au

Snickers Cupcakes!

The exclamation mark in the title is necessary because these are the best cupcakes I have ever eaten (and I’ve sampled A LOT of cupcakes in my time). I made them for a family birthday party by combining a number of different recipes so that these cupcakes are like a deconstructed Snickers. Everyone went crazy for them, not that I blame them, because who doesn’t love Snickers? With a dense, fudgy chocolate base, a light and fluffy peanut-nougat icing and oodles of caramel, these cupcakes are to die for and I can imagine them becoming a firm family favourite.
EDIT 2015: Still a winner! I made these for my 21st birthday celebrations with family & friends and the went down a treat 🙂 
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Ingredients (makes around 30)
Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
350g butter
450g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
2 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups almond meal
2 cups cocoa
10 eggs
2 tspns vanilla extract

Peanut Nougat Frosting
1 cup smooth peanut butter
250g butter, softened
4 tspns vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
2 tblspns milk
Salted peanuts (chopped), remaining caramel, melted dark chocolate & chopped snickers, to decorate

Caramel
100g butter
⅔ cup soft brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
½ cup cream

Method
Preheat oven to 140°C. Line 3 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans (about 30).

Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Mix continuously until melted and smooth. Sift the almond meal and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and beat for 1min on a low speed. Add eggs two at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Divide mixture evenly between patty pans (filling each about ¾ full) and then bake for  30mins or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the tray and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely before icing and decorating.

As cupcakes are baking, make the caramel sauce. Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for at least 5 mins. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.

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Once the cupcakes are cooled, dig a small hole at the top of the cakes with a teaspoon.

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Fill the holes with the cooled caramel.

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To make the frosting, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and slowly add the icing sugar. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Using a piping bag with a star attachment, pipe the frosting in a circular motion onto the cupcakes, starting around the edge so that you form a soft-serve ice-cream effect. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce, melted dark chocolate and then top with salted peanuts & chopped snickers. Enjoy!

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Cupcake recipe adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook.

Banoffee Pies

Inspired by the banoffee pie scene in Love Actually, I decided to have a go at making some. I was unsure whether I’d like them or not, but with their buttery pastry, dark caramel and fluffy whipped cream topping, even a banana-hater like myself thoroughly enjoyed them.

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Ingredients
395g sweetened condensed milk
3 small bananas
Juice of ½ lemon
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons grated chocolate

Pastry
1 ⅔ cups plain flour, sifted
110g butter, chilled
110g pure icing sugar
1 egg yolk

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Method
Remove and discard label from the condensed milk can, then using a can opener, make 2 small holes in the top. Place in a saucepan, open-side up. Fill pan with cold water to come almost to the top of the can (about 1cm to the top). Bring to the boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 3 hours until a caramel forms, topping up water to keep the same level. Carefully remove cans and cool.

For the pastry, place flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and 2 tblspns cold water and process until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball. Enclose in a plastic wrap and chill for 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line eight 10cm loose-bottomed tart pans. Chill for a further 15mins. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Blind-bake for 10mins, then remove paper and weights and return to the oven for 5mins or until crisp and golden. Allow to cool.

Open the condensed milk can, then spoon the caramel toffee into each pastry shell to almost fill. Thinly slice bananas, toss in the lemon juice, then place an overlapping layer over the toffee. Whip the cream and pile on top. Decorate with chocolate curls.

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Adapted from delicious. ‘Sweet’ cookbook.