Recently Mr Duckie and I celebrated our "dating" anniversary (hehe that sounds so daggy!). We have been together for 8 years now! The years have definitely flown by what with all the busy-ness that life is full of, and I am so glad to have had someone special to share all these experiences with :)
Every year for Mr Duckie's anniversary present, I like to follow the "traditional" anniversary gift ideas (e.g. first year is paper, second year is cotton, and so on). I know these are meant to be wedding anniversary gifts, but it still helps me to come up with some meaningful!
So, a quick check of Wikpedia told me that for the 8th year, the traditional US gift is bronze, and the traditional UK gift is salt. This left me pondering for a while. I wasn't sure that a jar of salt was quite an appropriate present, and I wasn't sure I could do much with bronze either!
And then I thought, of course! I should bake something with a bronze and salt theme! And then I realised - yes, salted caramel! It covers both the salt and bronze components (caramel is kind of a bronze colour, right? At least that's what I told myself). And in any case, salted caramel is so tasty, who would be upset with receiving it as a gift?
|Please excuse the messy piping, I am definitely still learning my piping skills!|
I decided to use a chocolate cupcake as a base for the caramel, as I wanted something that would be strong enough to stand against the sweetness and richness of the caramel. The cupcakes themselves were quite easy to make and had just the right amount of chocolatey-ness.
However, the caramel part turned out to be quite messy! I somehow managed to dribble lots of sticky caramel all over the kitchen bench, down the side of the kitchen drawers, and onto the floor. I think I flung little droplets of caramel into another part of the kitchen as well. And of course, whilst making the icing I managed to cover all the benches in a fine dusting of icing sugar.
I should also warn you to be careful when mixing the caramel - take care not to splash it on yourself as it will burn! I was rather too vigorous whilst stirring the caramel (I got a little scared when I added the cream to the melted sugar as it started fizzling so much!), so I ended up with a couple of sugar burns on my forearm.
But it was all worth it!
Overall, this was a very rich and sweet cupcake. Mr Duckie was very pleased when he saw the cupcakes, and quickly downed one in a few bites. However, much to his dismay, he couldn't manage a second one! I also had a huge sugar rush after eating one of these cupcakes. So do make sure to have a cup of tea on standby to wash all the sugar down!
I also had lots of caramel sauce left over, so I served it on the side (although as I said, this is a very rich cupcake, so go easy with the extra sauce!). I think it would also go nicely on top of some ice-cream, or perhaps to jazz up some plain cakes with!
This is definitely a special occasion only recipe, but I'm sure that whoever you make these for will appreciate you for it :)
Chocolate and salted caramel cupcakesMakes 12
From "Crave" by Maureen McKeon
185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
235g (1 cup) caster sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
185g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
125-185ml (1/2-3/4 cup) milk
Salted caramel sauce
Adapted from Love Swah
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup thickened cream
1-2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Salted caramel butter cream
Adapted from Love Swah
110 g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar mixture
1/2 of the salted caramel sauce
For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the over to 180 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cases
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the cooled melted chocolate. Add the beaten egg and beat until smooth
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and cocoa together. Fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk. Use 125ml (1/2 cup) of the milk to start with, adding more if necessary to give a light mixture.
4. Divide the mixture among the paper cases, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until well risen and cooked.
5. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then remove and transfer to a wire rack.
For the salted caramel sauce:
1. Combine sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and stir to dissolve. Heat over a medium heat until bubbling.
2. Bubble mixture for 5-10 minutes without stirring, until a deep golden colour is reached. Keep a close eye on the mixture as you do not want to burn the sugar.
3. Take mixture off the heat and carefully stir in cream (I found using a wooden spoon is best). Be careful as the mixture will bubble when the cream is added. Don't worry too much if some sugar lumps form, this happened to me, and I just ended up taking a big lump of hardened sugar mixture out.
4. Stir in the salt to taste. Pour mixture into a bowl and place into fridge to cool.
For the frosting:
1. Beat butter and icing sugar in a large bowl for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
2. Add caramel sauce and beat to combine. Taste and add more caramel if necessary.
1. Pipe icing onto cooled cupcakes. Drizzle over some of the remaining salted caramel sauce to decorate.