Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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I suspect Mr Firehouse was duped. You see, a few weeks ago he came to me and asked for some salted caramel cupcakes for the following week. I agreed of course, this wasn’t an unusual request. When I asked why, he commented that a colleague was  adamant that salted caramel could not work as a flavour. Nuwan, always the first to defend food accepted the challenge and promised that he’d change his mind. Sounds a lot like a bit of reverse psychology to me.

In saying that, I’m not surprised. I’ve had many a terrible salted caramel that could’ve ruined me for life!

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 Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • ¾ cups self-rising flour
  • ¾  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 11/2 -2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cooled salted caramel sauce

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup  cream
  •  1 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350F/180 C. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
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Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

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Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Salted Caramel

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Place the sugar in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. As the sugar melts stir, don’t worry about the lumps, just keep stirring.

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Once all the sugar has melted, you’ll see the sugar syrup becoming a dark brown/amber colour.

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Add the butter to the sugar and it will bubble, keep stirring. Take the bubbling sugar off the heat and add the cream. Keep stirring.

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Once the mixture is smooth  add the salt, taste and leave to cool. I tend to add my salt bit by bit, tasting and every point. Refrigerate any excess.

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Buttercream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated – air = fluffiness).
Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.
When the sugar is combined, turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the caramel sauce and beat for 2 minutes to mix all the caramel in.
Pipe/spread onto the cooled cupcakes and serve straightaway or place in the fridge for later.
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