150g soft brown sugar
150g butter (room temp)
150g SR Flour
50g cocoa powder
Chocolate caramel sweets or caramel bar to make 14 portions
½ Tsp vanilla bean paste
Prep to Cook: Large mixing bowl, basin, hand held mixer or food mixer, teaspoon, 2 tablespoons, spatula, sieve, paper cases, bun tray
Prep: Cup cakes are basically fairy cakes made using the creaming method. This means you beat the sugar and the fat, the butter, until it is light and fluffy.
Crack the eggs and lightly break them up
Add a little at a time and beat in thoroughly
Beat in the vanilla paste
Sieve together the flour and the cocoa – this mixes the cocoa in and is important
Now change to a spatula and fold in the flour and cocoa mixture
Check the colour of the cake mix is a good rich brown
If necessary add a little more sieved cocoa
Now stir in 1 tablespoon hot water from the kettle
Put the mixture into the paper cases held in place in the bun tray
Fill the cases to ¾ full and do not drip any on the paper cake
No need to level out or spread the cake mix
Press a portion of chocolate caramel into the cake just under the cake mix
Bake in a gentle oven, electric 180C or Gas Mark 4, for around 20 minutes until the tops are bouncy to touch
Cool in the bun tray and do not decorate until really cold
Cup cakes are the ultimate luxury cake. They are based on simple cake so that art is getting a topping that tastes good and looks amazing. The only way is to practice and practice. They are worth trying hard for once you get it right!
Cooks Know How: A creamed mixture is a classic. You work to a formula that has been tried and tested over the years. The slight changes are that the sugar is soft brown rather than traditional caster. This brings a slightly denser texture to the cake and a hint of ‘fudge’ flavour. Creaming is the word that explains the process of beating rapidly to trap air bubbles. These days it is usual to use a hand held mixer or a free standing food mixer. In the old days a strong cooks arm was all that was needed. I suggest butter in the cake rather than cheaper margarine because the flavour is better and these are luxury cakes rather than everyday quick buns, but you can use margarine if you like. Beating in the eggs adds more air and good nutrition. Cup cakes are not all bad! Beat eggs in a little at a time to prevent curdling. You will see curdling as bits like coconut if it happens and to prevent further curdling, stir in some of the flour to firm up the mixture before adding the next portion of egg.
The cocoa is chocolate, it is a super ingredient that cannot be surpassed by any other ingredient. Sieve it with the flour to prevent any clumping and to distribute the flavour easily. Remember cocoa is NOT drinking chocolate and you should not substitute with it. Drinking chocolate contains extra sugar that could cause the cakes to collapse and have a crusty texture.
Folding is critical when you add the flour and cocoa. Before that you have been high powered beating, rapid and furious to trap in the air that will raise the cakes and make them light in texture. If you added the flour like that the mixture would not be so light. Folding is stirring in a disciplined figure of eight movement in the bowl probably using a spatula to ensure thorough mixing. Keep an eye on the cake mixture and look for even colour rather than streaking. Cooking gently will set the eggs and set the gluten in the flour in order to hold the risen shape. Enough time for this to happen is crucial and therefore to test the cake by pressing with your finger helps to see if the set is strong enough. If you take them out too soon they may sink. Sugar browns the surface as the cooking takes place and makes the cake crumb (inside) soft and moist. Of course our secret portion of caramel will provide a little volcano of different texture that make these cup cakes a treat.
Try adding chocolate chips. White or plain chocolate chips makes a lovely contrast.
Decoration - Buttercream with double cream:
100g softened butter
200g sieved icing sugar
30g cocoa powder
50g melted plain chocolate
Double cream to soften
Prep the topping icing
Use a hand held mixer to beat the butter and then add the icing sugar and coco powder and mix until soft and smooth. Melt the chocolate in a basin over a bolw of boiing water. Stir it to check it is melted and smooth. Pour into the icing and mix with mixer. Finally add a tablespoon cream and continue to whisk.
Fit a piping bag with a large star nozzle
Fill the bag by placing it in a jug and pulling back the polythene
Screw the top of the bag and make the buttercream pressure toward the nozzle.
Hold the nozzle right over the cakes and force the filling out to make a huge swirl that covers the cake and seals it up and prevents staling
Place on decorations such as mini chocolate beans (Tiger stores) and cut flakes with a hot knife. You can also use glitter topping to add a shimmer of luxury