So. My latest challenge was to bake some cupcakes for a lovely friend’s party on Guy Fawkes night. I was toying between bonfire cupcakes and firework cupcakes and I wanted something to incorporate spun sugar or toffee decorations. I also wanted something cheeky and surprising inside the cupcakes. The conclusion I came to was chocolate fudge cupcakes, with salted dulche de leche in the middle, chocolate butter cream frosting and sugar firework decorations.
This is how the trial batch came out:
The chocolate cupcake is the same recipe for the chocolate fudge cake last post, recipe here. Dulche de leche allegedly originated in Argentina in the early 1800’s, and is basically sweetened condensed milk, boiled down to a lovely thick caramel. I had always done this by piercing the tin of condensed milk, putting it in a pan of water and waiting hours and hours and hours until it was done. Recently, I found a Hairy Bikers’ recipe that cuts this time right down. Open the tin, pour into a shallow baking tray, cover with foil, put this into a larger tray of water (a bain marie) and into the oven at 220 degrees (centigrade), for one to two hours. When its thick and toffee coloured, whisk it together and its done. I love the unexpected zing of salt in the caramel – so I whisk some in when its cool – use good sea salt, I prefer Maldons.
The spun sugar decorations were tricky. There is a very good tutorial by cooking4chumps here. Basically, take 140ml water, pour over 140g sugar in a pan, add some liquid glucose and heat. Make sure every single little molecule of sugar is dissolved in the water before it comes to the boil, or you risk crystallisation. Make sure everything you use is extremely clean (or you risk crystallisation). You want to bring it up to 160C – check with a candy thermometer. Do not let it get over 160 – or guess what – you risk crystallisation. A couple of drops of cold water can help to stop it continuing to heat up. Then I simply took a spoon and made “firework shapes” on a piece of baking paper, and waited for them to cool. Some I sprinkled with glitter sugar sprinkles.
Once the cakes were baked and cool, I piped in the dulche de leche (or you can core them with a teaspoon and put a teaspoon of the caramel in the hole before putting the cake core back on top). Then I piped them with the butter cream frosting and carefully put the sugar fireworks on top.
A couple of weeks later when I had to make them for real, I decided that I wanted to use pop rocks as well to give them even more of a zing. But pop rocks don’t pop if they have been wet at all – to use in cooking you have to coat them in melted chocolate first. I put some chocolate covered pop rocks under the dulche de leche in the cupcakes, and instead of butter cream I used a whipped ganache frosting. The sugar decorations didn’t turn out as well as the test batch (typical) nor did they travel as well as I’d have liked, but they sure did taste good!