Thursday, 13 May 2010

Sticky Toffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I've been dying to make these cupcakes ever since I saw them in Fiona Cairns book 'Bake & Decorate Tea Time Luxury'. One of my favourite bloggers, Heavenly Housewife wrote a post about this book recently and I knew I had to get a copy. As it happens the theme for this month's Iron Cupcake Challenge was fruit so I made these as my entry. I usually like to make a test run before the challenge in case it needs tweaking but didn't have time this time. Fortunately the cakes turned out fine. The icing however was a different story. I burnt the caramel the first time round and couldn't use it as it had a bitter after taste. I then had to go out to meet some friends and therefore started my second batch of caramel at 11pm (on a sunday night)! I watched it even more closely and probably could have left it a little longer but I didnt want to take any chances. I then had to wait for it to cool completely before making the buttercream. It tasted really good and I thought my troubles were over.
Apparently not as disaster strikes twice. Approximately 2 hours later, I was ready to pipe the buttercream on my cakes and unfortunately I had bits of caramel that had crystallised clogging up my piping tube. Had to use a different piping bag in the end which had a removable nozzle so I could easily clear the obstruction each time it occurred. It took much longer than I expected to frost all the cakes as I had to re-do quite a few of them. The silver lining though is that the pattern is really pretty - it looks like a rose, doesnt it? I've not used this nozzle before so was really pleased with the end result.
Would I make this again? YES! In fact I made another batch on Tuesday night as everyone got to look at it on Monday but couldn't eat it as it was for the challenge. Voted one of my best baking creations by my colleague who has sampled almost everything on here. The cake is really moist and light and the salted caramel buttercream is amazing. I'll confess, I had a small bowlful of buttercream for breakfast on Tuesday :) Thought I deserved it after all this effort!

date mixture

KitchenAid in action (Again? I know I can't help it, I just love it so much)

Burnt caramel! :(

Perhaps slightly underdone but great caramel

salted caramel buttercream
Cakes waiting to be frosted

Final result after hours of stress!

Recipe from Fiona Cairns. Makes 12
For the cakes
180g dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80g unsalted butter, softened
150g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the buttercream
Caramel method
125g white caster sugar
80ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Dulce de leche method
3-4 tbsp dulce de leche
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

160g salted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • In a heatproof bowl, pour 180ml boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 20 minutes.
  • Then, with a fork, dently break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.
  • Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition and slipping in 1 tbsp flour about halfway through to prevent curdling.
  • Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture.
  • Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove and leave to cool.

  • To make the caramel, dissolve the sugar and 60ml water in a small, solid-based pan over a gentle heat, then increase the heat to a boil.
  • Wait a few minutes, leaving the pan undisturbed but watching it like a hawk and, as soon as it changes to a wonderful caramel colour (like strong tea) and is thicker, remove immediately from the heat.
  • Stand well back and add the cream.
  • Be very careful as it's searing hot and may splatter a little.
  • it will reach or 'seize' and you may think it has gone wrong; it hasn't.
  • Keep stirring, adding the salt and the vanilla.
  • Leave until stone cold.
  • If using dulce de leche, simply mix it with the salt and vanilla.

  • For the buttercream icing, cream the butter and icing sugar for at least 5 minutes.
  • Add the caramel or the dulce de leche.
  • Pipe with a piping bag or spread with a palette knife.


  1. I love the idea of having dates in the batter. These cupcakes are delicious!

  2. these look delicious! Love salted caramel!

  3. These look fantastic! Sticky toffee is one of my favourite cakes, but I've never made it. It's a rare treat, and it might be dangerous if I start making stuff like this! And the buttercream--amazing!

  4. Thanks you so much for the mention :D. These look amazing. Isn't that salted caramel just divine!? Well, since my blog was the inspiration I feel like i should get a cupcake :D, no?
    Have a wonderful weekend ahead!
    *kisses* HH

  5. Buttercream for breakfast? Good girl!
    I loved these cupcakes - the salted caramel worked so well

  6. they look so good!! What a drag about the caramel crystalizing in the piping bag. GRRRR!!! Sticky toffee is the best, salted buttercream can only make them better :)

    PS Awesome Kitchen Aid action shot. Love it :)

  7. I wish I'd gotten the chance to try one at Iron Cupcake - I left the salt out of mine as I'm not fond of salted caramel but I'd have like to have tried the recipe done properly!!
    See you at the next IC!
    And buttercream for brekkie - yay! I tend to pipe it straight into mine or hubbys mouth after we've finished frosting the cakes!

  8. Your decorating skills are improving!! Love the idea...Mmm, sticky toffee with a nice saltish icing to go with. Very very nice combination babe!

  9. Hmm these look delicious, thanks for posting up this recipe, looks quite simple to make.



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