Sticky toffee cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream
Everybody's favourite pudding brought band up-to-date as a cupcake with salted caramel buttercream. There are 2 alternative toppings: the first involves making caramel; the second, simply opening a jar of dulce de leche. The choice is yours, the the former will give a pleasing bitter edge. If you prefer an unsalted caramel buttercream, omit the salt and use unsalted butter.
From the book Bake & Decorate by Fiona Cairns.
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© 2019 Fiona Cairns / Other · Reproduced with permission.
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You Will Need
Preheat the oven to 180"C/fan 170'C/350'F/gas mark 4. Place the paper cases into a cupcake tin. In a heatproof bowl, pour 180ml boiling water over the dates and leaves to soak for 20 minutes. Then, with a fork, gently break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.
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. Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition and slipping in 1 tbsp flour about halfway through to prevent curdling. Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture. 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.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream. To make the caramel, dissolve the sugar and 60ml water in a small, solid-based pan over a gentle heat, then increase the heat to a boil. 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 thick it has gone wrong; it hasn't. Keep stirring, adding the salt and the vanilla. Leave until stone cold.
If using dulce de leche, simply mix it with the salt and vanilla.
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. 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.