This evening I did some advance baking for some friends’ birthdays at the weekend. I baked some lactose-free carrot cupcakes that I will ice on Saturday – I will share those next week assuming it is not a massive disaster. Also if anyone has any Vitalite butter icing tips, I would really appreciate them. I also made some gooey salted caramel brownies – not lactose free but you can easily make them gluten free by switching the flour. Mmm… Salted Caramel. These brownies are amazing, seriously. They don’t look as pretty as some of the other stuff I make but they taste so good.
Again, these use Nigella’s salted caramel sauce recipe, which is super easy – no sugar thermometer required. Just remember to use decent salt.
The caramel is added to my failsafe brownie recipe. I use this brownie recipe all the time and add in whatever I fancy (chopped up Bounties, finger of fudges, Dime Bars, pecans etc)
- 185g unsalted butter
- 200g decent chocolate (I use one bar of Green and Blacks dark and one milk)
- 85g plain flour (regular or gluten-free Doves Farm)
- 40g cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- 275g golden caster sugar
- 2 quantities of Nigella’s salted caramel (make it with slightly less cream to make sure it is thick enough) made in advance and totally cooled (although in an emergency the freezer works – don’t let it actually freeze)
- Cut butter into cubes and put into a pyrex type bowl with the chocolate (broken into small pieces) Melt them together by putting the bowl over a pan of simmering water but make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir occasionally until they are combined. You can also do this by shoving it in the microwave but watch it really closely because chocolate burns easily. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160c. Line your tin with tin foil or baking parchment. I use a tin that is about 6 x 12 inches.
- Break the eggs into your bowl and add in the golden caster sugar whisk on high until light and thick and creamy – it should become pale and double in volume. It takes a while and is the most important step, this is what makes them light.
- Pour the cooled chocolate mixture in, then gently fold together with a spatula.Be careful not to knock the air out.
- Add in the sifted cocoa and flour mixture and fold in really gently until just combined. If you are making regular brownies, now would be the time to add in chopped up chocolate bars and whatever else you fancy.
- Pour the half the mixture into the tin and push it out into the corners making sure it is even. Then add the caramel. Try to avoid getting it too close to the edges if you can. Then add the other half of the brownie mix and smooth it over. Pop it in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or so. To test if it is done shake the tin a bit, it shouldn’t wobble like jelly. I find the skewer test a bit redundant for brownie making because if it comes out clean you have probably over cooked them or missed a caramel seam.
- Leave them until they are totally cold. In this case, I mean it, they firm up and become manageable when cold. You can always reheat them later if you like.
So there you go… Enjoy!
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.
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
Preheat the oven to 190c
- Chop the dates up small and then pour over the boiling water and leave them to soak in
- 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.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and beat really well after each one
- 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)
- 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.
- Fill your cases to about two-thirds full
- Bake for 18 minutes or until they spring back when touched. Leave to cool slightly before putting on to a cooling rack.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pipe it on to the cakes starting at the outside and working in and up
- 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.
Intern (now Former Intern) was very happy (nawwww!) ate two and slumped on his desk making happy noises.