Sunday 28 August 2011

Sunday baking: Spice cupcakes with Dulce de Leche

Someone on the forum I frequent mentioned dulce de leche this weekend and it got me interested. I am a sucker for caramel and when I found this recipe I had to try it, though I did adapt it slightly. It turned out beautifully and was very low maintenance: not very much stirring at all, although I should have beaten it at the end because the texture looks a bit grainy. Doesn't taste grainy though, thankfully.

This sweet confection called for a cupcake with bite, not too sweet, and I was inspired by an amazing smoothie I had at this cafe while I was in Perth last week (I am plucking up the courage to email them and ask for the recipe...) which was full of cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla. So I adapted what has become my cupcake recipe of the moment.

Dulce de leche:
750ml gold top milk
375g caster sugar
Pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down until it's at a bare simmer. Stir every 5-10 minutes to keep it from sticking...
...I should maybe say here that we have an awesome set of saucepans which conduct heat extremely well, which probably helped with the not-catching part of making this, so you might want to take care, depending on your pans...
Keep at a bare simmer for 45 mins-1 hour. The mixture will thicken and turn pale brown. Don't worry about it looking too liquid because it will set firmer when it cools. Pour into jars and refrigerate when cooled.

3 cups self-raising flour
2 cups caster sugar
8oz butter
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups milk
6 cardamom pods

Start by infusing the milk. Bash the cardamom pods until they break open and then tip the pods and seeds into the milk in a saucepan. Heat until boiling. Boil for 5 minutes or so and then turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl with a good grating of nutmeg (I used maybe a third of a nutmeg, maybe a bit less) and then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the eggs and vanilla with 1 cup of the infused milk in a separate bowl, then beat into the flour mixture in three batches, taking care not to overmix. Scoop into cases and bake at 180 degrees C for 20ish minutes.

Fill the cupcakes with the dulce de leche using the cone method. Dust with icing sugar.

I really liked these, although the cardamom flavour was quite strong and I'd probably only infuse the milk with 4 pods next time. I think the spice balances out the sweetness of the dulce de leche really nicely. I may repeat these for a weekend away in Cornwall next week, with a frosting. I just can't decide what sort of frosting would be suitable.

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