Thursday, May 20

sticky date cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

My first post could be something self-defining and meaningful, but I think it's best to get straight to what's important: salted. caramel.

I've seen salted caramel on plenty of menus of fine restaurants and p√Ętisseries and always thought it smacked of pretension. Why taint perfection with ridiculous flakes of sea salt?! However, falling in love with Fiona Cairns' book 'Bake & decorate: tea time luxury' introduced me to a recipe I simply couldn't deny.

Initially, I thought I would follow the recipes for both cake and buttercream, but omit the recommended salt simply because I know best. Then I realised I often do not know best, and added a few flakes. Followed by the recommended 1/2 tsp. And then a little more! Salted caramel is my new black.

Ingredients (makes 12)

For cakes:
180 gms dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
180 gms self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80 gms unsalted butter, softened
150 gms light muscovado sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For buttercream:
160 gms salted butter, softened
200 gms icing sugar, sifted
4 tbps dluce de leche
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 tsp sea salt (or more!)

Preheat oven to 180C/170C fan-forced. Place 12 paper cases into a 12 capacity cupcake tin.
In a heatproof bowl, pour 180 mls boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 20 mins. Then, with a fork, gently break up the dates and stir through the vanilla.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar for a good five minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition and slipping in 1 tbsp flour halfway through to prevent curdling. Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture.
Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15 - 20 mins. The tops of each cake should spring back when lightly pressed. Remove and allow to cool.

To make the buttercream, place dulce de leche in a small bowl and add vanilla and salt.
Cream butter and icing sugar for at least five minutes. Fold through dulce de leche mixture. Do a taste test to check if more salt is needed.
Place the buttercream into a large piping back fitted with a star-shaped tip and pipe onto cakes.
Top with a sprinkle of finely chopped caramel candies.

Note: If you can't buy and don't fancy making the dulce de leche, see Fiona Cairns' book for a recipe to make the buttercream using her caramel method using cream and caramelised sugar.

Recommended baking soundtrack: Beach Fossils - Beach Fossil.


  1. Very proud of you! The blog outlay looks amazingly stylish (as if we could expect anything less)and the recipe sounds fantastic....though you know what I'm like so the only chance of me trying salted caramel will come from someone else's kitchen. As for the post time - 2.05am - well done for getting this out and about for all of us to see. Best of luck with your culinary cupcake adventure.

  2. oh i just adore dulce de leche!
    am thinking of making some icecream with it.. :O)

  3. Hi. do you drain the dates after soaking them? I left the water in the mixture and it turned out a bit runny.