Monday, 15 November 2010

Chocolate & Caramel Cupcakes - We Should Cocoa 3

Here we go, cupcakes yet again! Am I developing a cupcake theme for We Should Cocoa, I wonder?  It's practicality that does it this time.  I am due to take in some cakes to work for Children in Need and cupcakes are the easiest to transport on the trek there - by train and foot.  They are also easier for people to eat at their desks.

It's the third We Should Cocoa challenge and Chele has chosen caramel for November.  When I found out, I was excited but also rather nervous, a definite challenge for me this time.  First, what exactly is meant by caramel? Well it seems virtually anything goes:  boiled sugar on its own or a combination of boiled sugar with water and maybe added butter or cream - hum? Last time I attempted making caramel for this chocolate and caramel salted tart, I burnt it and it tasted horribly bitter. I didn't want to make that mistake again. This recipe for salted caramel buttercream I adapted from Fiona Cairns's Bake & Decorate and the cake recipe I adapted from here.

This is what I did:
  • Dissolved 7oz vanilla sugar (could use granulated sugar and add 1 tsp vanilla extract later) in 100ml water.
  • Brought to the boil and "watched like a hawk", as advised by Fiona Cairns for a while and then got a bit bored as took a lot longer to caramelise than "a few minutes".  Luckily, I did catch it this time before it burnt
  • Poured in 184ml double cream.  It all went very lumpy at this point, but I stirred and stirred and eventually all became smooth.
  • Stirred in 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan rock salt.
  • Creamed 5oz unsalted butter with 4oz light muscovado sugar
  • Beat in half the caramel.
  • Broke in two duck eggs (large hens eggs are fine) and beat well.
  • Sifted in 4oz flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white), 1oz of cocoa, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of bicarb of soda.
  • Spooned into 12 cupcake cases and bake at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Creamed 3oz salted butter with 4oz icing sugar until my arm was sore and the mixture was very light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the remaining caramel.
  • Spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.
  • Licked the bowl clean - reckoned it was the best buttercream I've yet made.
Hoorah, the caramel worked  - what a relief. The photos don't really do these justice - grey days and dark nights don't do a lot for my photography skills. I know I was making these for work, but I had to try one for quality control purposes and then CT had to try one following a hard day at work. The buttercream was delicious, sweet and caramely and was really lifted by the salt.  I'm not normally a great fan of buttercream, but this was exceptionally good.  The cake was rich with cocoa and not too sweet so made a good foil for the topping.  Both cake and buttercream were delicious in their own right, but together they were more than the sum of their own parts.

34 comments:

  1. How good do they look!!! YUM. Love the decorations on top. Very impressed with your efforts, especially considering that caramel from scratch was not your favourite task ;0)

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  2. Oh yum - chocolate and caramel, you can't go wrong! Basically, it's like Rolos in cake form!!!

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  3. That cut cupcake looks so delicious! I am loving how thickly you have spread the frosting. I also love your description of watching like a hawk and then wandering off. That is me all over when I attempt caramel or toffee. Unsurprisingly I often get it wrong - not cooked enough or overcooked.

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  4. Those look very delicious esp the frosting on the cake:)

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  5. Pink Himalayan rock salt - hmmm sounds wonderful

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  6. I love chocolate and caramel but am not brave about making my own caramel - usually use a tin of condensed milk - and usually use the combination in chocolate caramel slice (like millionaire's shortbread) have been wondering if I can get inspired to enter but am just enjoying admiring your cupcakes at the moment!

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  7. These look really good. I haven't tried salty caramel flavours yet, but could be tempted by these!

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  8. Caramel is my new love all i want to eat these days is only with caramel Thanks for the recipe lady :)

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  9. I love salted caramel absolutely amazing. Why did the world take so long to discover it?

    Looks like a great combination with the chocolate cupcakes.

    I really must do one of the I should Cocoa challenges myself.

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  10. These sound great. I love salted caramel - the taste of Snickers after all! I agree that the salt really lifts the flavor to another dimension - heavenly!

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  11. They look fantastic - I can't decide what to make for the challenge - I change my mind about five times a day!!!

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  12. Looks great! I was also thinking of salted caramel for my challenge but haven't got round to it yet!

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  14. The cakes look delicious. I would have licked the spoon and the bowl clean!

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  15. oh yummy! they looks totally irresistable:)

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  16. Now these look just a little wicked. Muscavado sugar I am seriously in love with, but I have trouble getting it.

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  17. Hi,

    That looks amazing...Going to follow you or subscribe...:)

    Dr.Sameena@

    http://www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com

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  18. Have been dying to try a great caramel buttercream for ages, and this one looks fabulous. It's such a great match with chocolate, yum....

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  19. I know I'm repeating myself, but dark choc and caramel is a match made in heaven! :)

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  20. ooh, scrummy. You should enter them in the Tesco Christmas cupcake decorating competition

    Had popped over to tell you about this - saw it and thought of you
    http://www.festivalchocolate.co.uk/

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  21. Chele - true I was a little apprehensive, but thank goodness the caramel was perfect. So thanks to you for getting me to do it.

    CC - now wishing I had just put a big blob of caramel in the middle of the cakes to emulate a rolo - next time.

    Kath - thanks. This recipe did make an awful lot of buttercream - normally I'm a lot meaner. But it was particularly good buttercream, so I'm glad I was able to be generous.

    Sushma - thank you, the frosting was a good one.

    Gillian - that's the salt I always use in my cakes - mostly because it's the only fine salt I have.

    Johanna - if I can make caramel successfully, I'm very sure you can. If inspiration hits, it would be lovely if you entered, but no worries if not.

    Suelle - I'm new to the salty caramel taste too, but now I've discovered it, I've become almost addicted.

    Ananda - you and me both :)

    Buttaz - I'm amazed just how long it took me to discover it. Would be great if you did feel up to entering something.

    FreeRangeGirl - yes, it's quite surprising how a little bit of salt can make such a difference.

    BVG - thanks. Made up your mind yet?

    Baking Addict - look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    Postzoom - thanks for the invite

    Maggie - indeed, it would have been very hard not to lick spoon and bowl clean.

    BlackBook - thanks, they certainly disappeared pretty fast at work.

    CityHippy - Muscovado sugar used to only be available in health food shops here, now it's everywhere.

    Dr Sameena - thanks

    Emma - do let me know if you try this one and what you think. or another.

    Celia - you can repeat yourself as much as you like, it's always good to hear from you.

    Nic - thanks for the weblink and guess I ought to check out the Tesco comp - but even though these photos aren't very good, my decorating skills leave a lot to be desired.

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  22. Wow, those sound good Choclette, I think I will have to make these too. Mmmmmmmm :P

    On the topic of caramel, I have a really easy and tasty one for you to try. You make it by melting caramel toffees and adding cream. The quantities are here.

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  23. Long shot but I don't suppose you've come across any decent gluten free chocolate cake recipes?

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  24. I'm all about cupcakes again at the moment and yours look amazing. The chocolate cake looks so rich and dark and moist and that buttercream looks smooth and lush!

    Very impressed at you making your own salted caramel - yum! I'm sure I would have wandered off for far too long, I once lost a pan of toffee by doing that...pale, pale, pale...... black....sigh!!!

    Cupcakes are definitely the ultimate portable cakes for people to eat at work - no messing with knives!

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  25. Northern Snippet - If you check out my label "gluten free" you'll find three chocolate cake recipes - the chocolate and almond being a particularly fine one. I shall also be posting a gluten free brownie recipe in the next day or so.

    C - thank you for making me feel these cupcakes were the right choice after all.

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  26. I love this month's theme, not sure I have time to do it mind!
    These are perfect, caramel and chocolate is a winner.

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  27. Nic - they are indeed a great combination. It would be great if you can find time, but no pressure if you can't.

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  28. I love caramel and chocolate and I love those cakes. What more can I say? Fabulous!

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  29. Joanna, you've summed it up very nicely thank you.

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  30. The chocolate and almond was lovely thanks!
    Interested to see the gluten free brownie recipe,haven't come across a particularly successful one yet!

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  31. Northern Snippet - glad the almond cake turned out well. I've just posted the brownie recipe.

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  32. Lovely recipe. Apparently Pink Himalayan rock salt has lots of minerals and is so much more better than sea salt.

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  33. Wow; these are amazing, guess what I'll be doing on my next day off work, baking yeeehaaaa

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  34. These look amazing - great to see you are generous with your toppings too!

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