Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream

Toffee apples are an amazing thing but I find them rather too sweet so I got to thinking that salted caramel apples should totally be a thing (I know, I know, I am obsessed) I made a spiced apple sponge with salted caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream. The sharpness of the apples was a good contrast to the salty/sweet icing.

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For the cakes (makes between 12-16):

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 80 ml milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • half tsp mixed spice
  • 5 medium apples (750g) – I used Granny Smiths
  • 100g saltanas soaked in 100ml boiling water and allowed to cool (I did mine in half rum, half boiling water)
  • 25g butter, extra
  • 1/3 cup (75g) soft brown sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180°C and put cases in a 12 hole muffin tin – I usually do a few extra in a second tray just in case
  2. Peel and core apples. Cube into little cubes (no bigger than 0.5cm). Sprinkle cubed apples a bit of lemon juice to avoid browning. Melt the 25g extra butter in a large frying pan; cook apple cubes until browned lightly (about 5 minutes). Add brown sugar and saltanas (including soaking rum if used, if not drain the water off); cook stirring until it goes nice and thick (about 5 more minutes). Allow to cool completely.
  3. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add flour and milk in 2 batches folding in gently.
  4. Fold in the apple mixture into the cake mixture until totally combined.Fill cases to about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes (till golden brown springy).

 

For the buttercream (this makes enough for about 24 cakes; it is worth making lots and then freezing the rest if you are doing less cakes)

Basic Recipe

  • 375g white caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100ml water
  • 6 egg whites
  • 600g soften unsalted butter in 2cm-ish chunks
  • 2 quantities of Nigella salted caramel sauce (totally cooled – use it from the fridge ideally)

 

Method

  1. Put sugar, golden syrup and water in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan and stir until totally combined.  Brush the inside of the saucepan with clean water on a damp pastry brush to dislodge any stray grains. Set over high heat and bring to a rapid boil. When the sugar mixture has come to the boil add a sugar thermometer and keep cooking until it reaches will into soft ball stage, 121°C.
  2. Meanwhile put the carefully separated egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment) and whisk the egg whites to soft peaks – be careful not to over whisk. Then slowly pour a steady stream of sugar syrup into the egg whites, being careful not to hit the whisk while doing so – I find pouring down the side of the bowl is the easiest way of doing this. Continue whisking until sides of the bowl feel cool. Add the softened butter chunk at a time one by one at a time and whip until fully incorporated and smooth
  3. Add in caramel and whisk until fully combined
  4. Pipe on to cakes and drizzle with a bit of caramel

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I used the left over icing a week later on a version of these cupcakes: https://bakeitinstinct.com/2013/07/08/salted-caramel-oh-salted-caramel/ and added sugar glass for some slightly Halloweeny decoration.

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FUCK cake

Hurrah! It was my birthday on Friday. Happy Birthday to me and what a very happy birthday it was. I had some friends over on Friday night to christen our new house and celebrate. I am still recovering – best night ever and all that. I don’t think I have had a birthday cake since I lived at home 15 years ago so I decided this year that I would make my own (with help from A on the washing up). And, if I have to make my own birthday cake I am going to make it both amazing and offensive.  I give you the amazing FUCK cake.

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I used this chocolate, caramel and vanilla ombre cake recipe from BBC Good Food but sandwiched it with homemade salted caramel sauce (the usual Nigella recipe) – it was pretty tasty and I think the ground almonds made it particularly moist. Also when you cut it, you get impressive layers. Yay!

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The biggest challenge was finding the multicoloured strands/sprinkles – weirdly everywhere was out of stock. I could find metallic ball ones and pink ones (because baking is only for little girls or something – URGH) but not the basic kind. Found them eventually and used letter cookie cutters placed onto the chocolate ganache to make the letters.

The best endorsement of this cake came from a Christian school friend who said: “I’m offended by a chocolate cake. Well this is definitely a first!!!!” – My work here is done, people. Done.

Stroopwafel Cupcakes

For part 2 of my Dutch cupcake series, I made stroopwafel cupcakes. Stroopwafels are those delicious biscuits with caramel in the middle that come from the Netherlands or Starbucks or a corner shop in Mile End.  Sainsbury’s in Tooting sell them. They are usually best served warmed over a cup of coffee or made into a cupcake. I made a cinnamon sponge, with a caramel core and cinnamon and caramel icing topped with a mini Stroopwafel. Served in a Delft blue cupcake case – very Dutch, ja?

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Anyway, on to the recipe (makes 12 big-ish ones)

For the sponge:

  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1tsp cinnamon

For the caramel filling:

  • 2 quantities of Nigella’s salted caramel sauce making it with just enough salt to cut away the sweetness but not enough to be fully salted caramel (hold some back for the icing and decorating)

For the icing:

  • 80g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 100g of the salted caramel
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

To decorate:

  • Mini stroopwafels or chunks of the big ones

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and line a muffin tin with 12 good size cupcake cases
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat really well after each one. Pro Tip: making sure the eggs are at room temperature will stop it curdling but if it does add a tablespoon of the flour to bring it together
  4. Sift together the flour and cinnamon and add this gradually and fold in until just combined
  5. Fill your cases to about two-thirds full
  6. Bake for 18 minutes or until they spring back when touched. Leave to cool slightly before putting on to a cooling rack.
  7. When the cakes are totally cold  core out the middle and fill with the caramel.
  8. For the icing cream the butter and caramel until it is really really soft and add a small amount of the icing sugar and the cinnamon (taste as you go to see if you need more). Keep adding icing sugar slowly, adding milk in between additions to moisten the mixture if you need to.  Add more icing sugar if it is too sloppy or buttery.  Beat until fluffy and smooth.
  9. Pipe it on to the cakes
  10. Get a disposable icing bag and add a few tablespoons of caramel, cut the very tip off and drizzle over the cakes and finish with a mini-stroopwafel

These got really good reviews in my office and lots of happy noises.

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Salted Caramel… Oh, Salted Caramel

I have a bit of a fetish for sweet/salty combinations. I love chocolate covered Pretzels, I like peanut buttery chocolate things and I practically worship at the altar of salted caramel. Last week, my lovely lovely (paid) intern got taken on a permanent member of staff after 11 months (what an interview) and to celebrate I decided to bake Sticky Salted Caramel Cakes.

The sponge was made with dates so had the consistency and taste of sticky toffee pudding, then I added a salted caramel core and topped them with salted caramel icing and decorated with Dime Bars.

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I used the Nigella Salted Caramel Recipe and doubled it up but cut down the amount of cream a bit to make it a tiny bit thicker – you will need to let it get cold and thicken up before trying to shove it in the cakes.  I actually made a whole jug of it the day before and ate it out of the jug so I had to make it all over again (massive self-control fail)

Anyway, on to the recipe (makes 12 huge ones) – please serve with a health warning and advise recipients to use a fork:

For the sponge:

  • 180g chopped dried dates
  • 180 ml boiling water
  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the caramel filling:

For the icing:

  • 80g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 100g of the salted caramel
  • 2 Dime Bars

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c

  1. Chop the dates up small and then pour over the boiling water and leave them to soak in
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale brown in colour and fluffy in consistency – remember to do this bit really thoroughly – it makes a big difference to the end result.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat really well after each one
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this gradually into the wet mix (about a third at a time and fold in being careful not to over mix)
  5. Add the vanilla and date mix. Pour all of this into the rest of the mixture and gently fold in by hand until the dates and water are totally combined. This is a fairly wet mixture compared to usual so don’t panic too much.
  6. Fill your cases to about two-thirds full
  7. Bake for 18 minutes or until they spring back when touched. Leave to cool slightly before putting on to a cooling rack.
  8. When the cakes are totally cold (trust me, I did this when they were still a bit warm and the caramel sank in. I rescued it with double helpings of caramel – no one complained) core out the middle and fill with the salted caramel.
  9. For the icing cream the butter until it is really really soft and add a small amount of the icing sugar. Keep adding icing sugar slowly, adding milk in between additions to moisten the mixture if you need to. If the mixture is too hard or looks like it is cracking when you make peaks with it, add a splash more milk. Add more icing sugar if it is too sloppy or buttery. Next add the caramel you will probably need to add bit more icing sugar was needed to stiffen it up again. Beat until fluffy and smooth.
  10. Pipe it on to the cakes starting at the outside and working in and up
  11. Get a disposable icing bag and add a few tablespoons of caramel, cut the very tip off and drizzle over the cakes and finish with a shard of Dime Bar.

Drool

Intern (now Former Intern) was very happy (nawwww!) ate two and slumped on his desk making happy noises.

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