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!