Thursday, 15 April 2010

Put down the spoon and walk slowly away from the jar

I had been meaning to try to bake some sticky toffee cupcakes for some time, and this week a bad morning at work and some expensive dates in my cupboard reaching their best before date led me to taking an afternoon off work and baking these absolutely gorgeous cupcakes from a recipe by Fiona Cairns.

The recipe is pretty straight forward but I changed a couple of things. As usual it would seem with recipes involving the soaking of dates it says naff all about what to do after the soaking time. Do you drain them, or keep all the water or what? Or am I being stupid and everyone else on the planet knows automatically what to do in such circumstances? Please let me know if you are clued up as this is the second recipe this has happened in (the other is for the Sticky Toffee Pudding in the Masterchef cookbook - as you can see my use of dates is quite one-dimensional!). So, I drained off some of the liquid as it seemed a lot to add to the mixture, but kept some in and they came out perfect - moist and gooey! This is when I wish I had smelly-vision as the smell in my kitchen when they were baking was amazing, but I resisted eating even one unfrosted as I was being good!

I also made my own version of the frosting.

I originally planned to buy dulche de leche as I was feeling just too lazy to make my own in a pot of boiling water for hours (as suggested by loads of people on Twitter when I said I was going to buy it!) and I'm quite accident prone and I didn't fancy scraping sticky goo off my kitchen ceiling for months if the tin exploded - something similar happened in my aunt's kitchen with a tin of steam pudding and no matter how many times my aunt cleaned it and my uncle painted over the stain it remained there as clear as day!). Alas my local Tescos is rubbish and I couldn't get dulce de leche - so I tried to make the caramel, twice. And twice I got over cautious and took it off the heat too soon. Then I tried to make dulce de leche in the microwave as after some internet research I was led to believe it was easy and worked a treat. It didn't - although it resembled dulce de leche the taste was grainy and unpleasant and the smell put me off ever eating caramel again. So I gave up for the night. Packed the cupcakes away all snug in cupcake tins and forgot about them.

The next day I sent Manny to Waitrose armed with instructions to buy dulce de leche or Bonne Maman confiture de caramel and if he couldn't get it to text me asap and I'd go in search of it myself elsewhere.

Thankfully good old Waitrose came to the rescue and we sourced some of the confiture de caramel. Is it me or does the name confiture de caramel just oooooze off your tongue? Or maybe I'm just thinking of the oozy caramel goodness that I insisted on taste-testing for quite some time before adding to my vanilla frosting just incase it wasn't right. It was very right, and very ooooooozy!

The recipe calls for salted caramel, but (confession time) I have come to the conclusion I'm really not fond of salted caramel. Pity this realisation didn't come before I spent loads on some salted caramel popping candy lollies. So I missed out the salt and perhaps over-added the caramel - I couldn't help it, it kept turning my frosting a really lovely caramel'y colour!

I filled up my disposable piping bag (using the bag in the glass method which is fab!) and piped the cupcakes using my huge star nozzle and I have to say I'm quite proud of my efforts.

I personally think these are some of the tastiest cupcakes I've made and I recommend the recipe to everyone. I took some to work today and one of the girls in the office said I could charge for them which made me rather chuffed!


Sarah-Jane - said...

they look nice - and your piping is coming on well too :-)

Try Nigella Lawsons Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe sometime - it's got loads of yummy dates in and is self saucing too !

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

These look brilliant! That second photo is worthy of Food Buzz I reckon. Re liquid from dates, I would drain definitely.

Libbs said...

They look incredible! The frosting looks so professional.

I know you said you don't like it, but William Curley's sea salted caramel is like no other I have ever tasted. Definately worth a try ;)

Manny said...

These aren't just some of the nicest cupcakes you've made, but some of the nicest I've ever tasted :) Everything about them is perfect and they look great too, you are getting very good with the piping! You should be so proud of these, it's about time you got a market stall and started sharing your talents :) I am so proud of you xxxx

I heart cupcakes said...

@Sarah-Jane Thanks - I feel much more confident with those disposable bags. They're bigger and easier to manage! Oh love the sound of a self saucing pud :)

@Sarah thanks you so much :) I drained most of it off but left some in as there was no other liquid in the mix -wish recipes would be clearer!

@Libbs thanks I am very chuffed with how the frosting turned out! We had William Curley's sea salted caramel last year at the choc fest and I really liked it! I blame him for lulling me into thinking I liked it (I previously thought I didn't!) but haven't liked any since!

@Manny - thanks :) I'm so glad you liked them! If I had a stall I'd need a kitchenaid ;)

The Caked Crusader said...

Definitely keep the liquid - the dates will break down in the hot water and you want all of it - the pulp and liquid. I've made many versions of sticky toffee cake/pud and you always keep the water.

Baking Addict said...

These look really delicious. I just got the book today and can't wait to try the recipe. Love your snail! PS I just bought the same cupcake placemat from Tesco with the intention of using it as a prop oneday. PPS totally loving your blog - i feel we have so much in common! :)

Lucie said...

What an adorable blog! So cute.... Love this, I must get some of that toffee sauce.. Lucie x

I heart cupcakes said...

thanks - I kept some of it - I think with it all it would've been too moist! I do find it confusing when recipes just don't tell me what to do!

Lucie - I recommend it. It's very yummy! thanks for your comment :)

KARA said...

They look beautiful, Ash would love those, your frosting is looking awesome btw.
Manny has not got you a Kitchaid yet tut tut they are heaven.

I heart cupcakes said...

Kara - I fully agree Manny is a very naughty husband for not getting me one ;) If I'm honest I don't think I have room for one in the kitchen - some re-organising would be required first! And he's busy saving up for my 10th wedding anniversary in NY!
thanks about the frosting - I'm very happy I've finally got the hang of piping :) I recommend the cupcakes - some of the nicest I've made

I heart cupcakes said...

@Baking Addict - welcome to a fellow KitchenAid lover :)
thanks for your lovely comment - much appreciated :) Great cupcake minds think alike!