Fiona Cairns’ Sticky Toffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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Everybody’s favourite pudding, brought bang up-to-date as a cupcake with salted caramel buttercream


Ingredients
For the cake:
• 12 cupcake cases
• 180g dates, pitted and chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 180g self-raising flour
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• 80g unsalted butter, softened
• 150g light muscovado sugar
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the buttercream (caramel method):
• 125g white caster sugar
• 80ml double cream
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream (dulce de leche method):
• 3-4 tablespoons dulce de leche
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, (or more to taste)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To finish:
• 160g salted butter, softened
• 200g icing sugar, sifted
• nylon piping bag, (optional)
• medium or large star nozzle, (optional)

Method
1 Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the paper cases into a cupcake tin. In a heatproof bowl, pour 180 ml boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Then, with a fork, gently break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.
2 Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar for a good 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
3 Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition and slipping in 1 tablespoon flour about halfway through to prevent curdling. Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture.
4 Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15–20 minutes (the tops should spring back when pressed with a finger). Remove and leave to cool.
5 Meanwhile, make the buttercream. To make the caramel, dissolve the sugar and 60 ml water in a small, solid-based pan over a gentle heat, then increase the heat to a boil.
6 Wait a few minutes, leaving the pan undisturbed but watching it like a hawk and, as soon as it changes to a wonderful caramel colour (like strong tea) and is thicker, remove immediately from the heat, stand well back, and add the cream. Be very careful as it is searing hot and it may splatter a little. It will react, or ‘seize’, and you may think it has gone wrong; it hasn’t. Keep stirring, adding the salt and the vanilla. Leave until stone cold.
7 If using dulce de leche, simply mix it with the salt and vanilla.
8 Cream the butter and icing sugar for at least 5 minutes in an electric mixer (or use a handheld mixer) and add the caramel or the dulce de leche.
9 Put the buttercream into the piping bag fitted with the star nozzle and pipe it on to the cakes, or spread it on with a palette knife.

Recipe courtesy of Fiona Cairns, extracted from Bake and Decorate.

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