Last week I asked if churros were over, and now I have to ask you, am I too late for cupcakes?
Cupcakes well and truly flooded the market there for a while. I really wouldn’t blame anyone for being sick of them. Especially since so many of them were just mediocre boxed cake totally smothered in too-sweet frosting or, worse yet, weird fondant cartoon characters (sorry cake-art fans, but I can’t stand fondant!).
As with everything I eat, for me it’s so much more about the taste than the look. Which is convenient since I am the most uncoordinated person of all time, and couldn’t prettily ice a cupcake if my life depended on it.
It’s also convenient because it leads me to create things like this!
It’s a cupcake inspired by that candy bar. The one with the nuts and the caramel and the chocolate? It’s one of the most famous ones? You know the one I mean.
It’s just like that candy bar, but about a thousand million times better! No dodgy palm-oil, and weird powdery chocolate here, folks!
Here we’ve got a moist, brown sugar cupcake (which comes together in one bowl with a wooden spoon), filled with silky-smooth salted caramel and topped with a peanut butter and chocolate ganache.
The cake base is tender and has a subtle caramel taste courtesy of the brown sugar. The salted caramel is so smooth, so deeply flavoured and so perfectly balanced between salt and sugar it will blow your mind. And the peanut butter ganache is just the best damn thing, with a combination of milk and dark chocolate, opposite the salty peanut butter.
Through some kitchen alchemy, the three tastes manage to combine into something much greater than the sum of their parts. On it’s own the cake might be bit boring, or the ganache a bit too strong, but when they come together with the salted caramel? It’s perfection. Not too sweet, not too rich, but juuuuuust right.
Time for a cupcake renaissance?
- For the cupcakes:
- 1 + ⅔ cups (250g) plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup (225g) brown sugar
- 1 stick (115g) butter
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 cup (225g) caster sugar
- ½ cup (125ml) cream
- ½ stick (55g) butter, melted
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ cup (125ml) cream
- 4oz (100g) milk chocolate
- 2 oz (50g) dark chocolate
- ⅓ cup (85g) peanut butter
- 2 tbsp golden syrup, glucose syrup or light corn syrup
- optional; sea salt to decorate
- First, make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350F/170C and lightly grease a 12-hole cupcake tray, or line it with cupcake wrappers.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir together briskly, until there are no lumps.
- Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake tray (pro tip: ice cream scoops are great for this) and place into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they spring back when pressed, or a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin immediately, and place on a rack to cool.
- To make the salted caramel filling, place the sugar into a deep saucepan with a splash of water (about 2 tbsp). Heat over a medium flame, without stirring, until the sugar all melts, and begins to bubble.
- When the bubbling sugar reaches an even amber colour, remove it from the heat, and VERY CAREFULLY add the butter, cream and salt. The mixture will bubble up A LOT, but just give it a stir every now and then until it calms down, and then put it back on the heat for a few seconds until everything comes together and looks smooth. Set this aside to cool completely.
- To make the peanut butter ganache, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over a very low flame until everything is melted and smooth. Be sure to keep the heat very low, as this can burn easily. Once everything is melted and smooth, set this aside to cool completely.
- To assemble the cupcakes, place the completely cool caramel filling into a squeeze bottle or piping bag fitted with an ⅛inch (1/2cm) nozzle. Insert the tip of your implement into the middle of the cupcake and squeeze until the cupcake feels slightly heavier. If it overflows it's no big deal.
- Once they are all filled, simple spread the ganache on top in whatever way you like. I favour a 'rustic' approach, because I have absolutely no hand-eye coordination. Sprinkle them with sea salt (or not) and then serve!