Triple Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes

I made these super delicious morsels for the RSPCA Cupcake Day at work, and I believe they were quite the hit. Well, I’m guessing they were, as there were none left at the end! If you follow my blog, you will know I am the number one lover of all things salted caramel, and these cupcakes did nothing to change my opinion. They were yum. Really yum.

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I’m happy I made the wise decision to make them minis, though. They were the perfect size. Not too big, and not too small. Just enough to pop them in your mouth all at once, to close your eyes and go to heaven for a few seconds. If I could have, I would have popped and definitely not stopped. I really am a shocker. As I sit here, I have a fresh tub of the biggest Nutella (one of my many other loves) you can get at the supermarket, right next to me, and a spoon clumsily hanging from my mouth. I may have slightly freaked out about the prospect of a worldwide Nutella shortage. Anyway, back on track…

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes: (from Gourmet Getaways) Makes approx. 60 mini cupcakes

  • 190g butter, chopped and softened
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 170c. Line cupcakes trays with cases. In a large saucepan, combine butter, white chocolate, brown sugar and golden syrup, and place over a medium heat, stirring with a metal spoon until combined and melted, and the sugar is dissolved.

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Remove from the heat, add the milk, and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir through the flour and baking powder until combined. Add eggs, one at a time and stir until combined. Fill cupcakes evenly, and bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the cakes clean. Cool in tins for 5-10 minutes, and let cool on wire racks.

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Caramel Maison: (this recipe is on page 245 of Adriano Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 220g pouring (whipping) cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • 120g water (this is just under 1 cup)
  • 300g caster (white) sugar
  • 60g liquid glucose (available at most supermarkets)

Place the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla bean if you are using one. In the meantime, place the water, sugar and glucose in a larger saucepan over a low-medium heat and cook until the glucose and sugar are fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Zumbo says to use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the saucepan in order to avoid crystalisation, however you can also just place the saucepan in really hot water with suds just after use and the sugar will melt off really easily. Increase the heat to medium, and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches a dark amber colour. This does take quite a while, and I was getting worried that mine would not work, but persistence is key here, it will eventually darken after 10-12 minutes. Very carefully stir the cream mixture into the sugar mixture slowly – be very careful because it spits and releases lot of heat. I found the best way to do this was with a spoon with a very long handle, as you want to keep your face as far away from the saucepan whilst it is spitting. If you don’t have a spoon with a super long handle, just add the cream really slowly and try to stir as best you can! Keep stirring as much as you can until the caramel settles down, then stir until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • caramel maison (prepared earlier. Leave 2 tbs for the sauce to drizzle on top of cupcakes)
  • approx. 2 tsp sea salt

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Warm the caramel maison in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (mine needed 1 min, 20 seconds on high as it was in the fridge overnight), however, just warm it in stages to prevent burning the caramel. With the beater running slowly, add the caramel maison to the butter and continue mixing until thick. Once I had added about half of my caramel, I got a bit worried because it looked like it was curdling, however as I kept adding the caramel, it began to thicken up. Once you have added all of the caramel, fold in the salt. I did not measure my salt, as I used a shaker. So if you too are using a shaker, you can salt to taste.

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Assembly:

Place your preferred piping nozzle in your piping bag, and fill with caramel buttercream. Pipe swirls/rounds onto cupcakes. For the sauce, take the 2 tbs of caramel maison left, warm in microwave until it is an almost liquid like consistency. Pour into a sauce bottle or similar, and drizzle over each cupcake. To store, place cupcakes in airtight containers, and leave at room temperature, in a dry area.

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Salted Butter Popcorn Macarons

Macs are back! This makes me very happy. Very happy indeed. As you would have seen earlier in the year, the last time I made macarons, it didn’t go so well. These still weren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they do look like macarons, and they taste pretty amazeballs. And that’s all I really care about 🙂

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This mac flavour is from Zumbo’s Fantasy Land of Macarons (p. 57), and the recipe had intrigued me for a quite a while, but I was just a bit scared to give them a go. I’m very glad I did though, because they were definitely worth it. Surprising or not, they taste exactly like a big mouthful of butter popcorn, just with a few different textures. I am a massive fan of sweets with salt, so these were a major winner in my eyes! The only thing I think I would do differently next time, would be to blitz the popcorn a bit more, because I had some big chunky bits on my shells, so they didn’t look quite as dainty as Zumbo the Great’s.
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Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Making

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

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Buttercream: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, p.57.)
(I still made the full recipe, even though it could have filled double the shells I had. I am sure I will use it for something…maybe eating it from the bowl…maybe…)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 38g water
  • 75g lightly beaten egg
  • 45g egg yolks
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • Sea salt, to taste
You will need digital scales and a thermometer to make this buttercream. The thermometer I use is just an ordinary one used for coffee. You can find them at homeware or discount stores.
Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Put the egg and egg yolks together in a large bowl, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over a low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook mixture until it reaches 121c. Begin beating the eggs for a minute or so, and then very slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Continue whisking the mixture until it is thick, and cooled to 50c. A teaspoon at a time, add the butter to the egg and sugar mixture, and mix well after each addition to ensure there is no lumps. Once all the butter has been incorporated, fold in the salt to taste. It should look a little something like this:
Buttercream
Assembly:
Cook the microwave popcorn according to instructions. Blitz approximately half of the popcorn in a food processor, until they look like small chunky crumbs. Place popcorn on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Pair up macaron shells. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 tsp onto shells, and sandwich with another. Melt 1 (if you want to brush 1 shell) or 2 tablespoons of butter (if you want to brush both shells) and completely brush the shell/s with the melted butter.
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Immediately place buttered shell/s into the popcorn and place on an oven tray with baking paper. Once you have completed all of the macarons, place in fridge to set overnight. This will help develop the flavour. After 24 hours or so, place macarons in airtight container if not serving immediately. Store in fridge, and bring down to room temperature to serve.
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Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Peanut Praline

As I have said so many times before, I looooove anything to do with salt and caramel. And I love Ice Cream.

I got a proper Ice Cream churner for my 21st birthday a while ago and I had only used it once before, and my boyfriend has been begging me for a while now to put it to good use. So with some spare caramel I had in the fridge, here we are. And it was pretty awesome.

For the caramel, I used the Caramel Maison that I made for the Salted Butter Caramel Macarons. It worked really well, and the flavour was great. It took quite a while for the Ice Cream to be ready, but it was certainly worth the wait 🙂 I made a peanut praline to go with the ice cream, just to add a textural element I guess, but I also love anything to do with toffee, and pralines are so much fun to make. As soon as I made the praline though, I decided it would have been so much cooler with the addition of buttered popcorn. Oh well, next time!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream: (we adapted the recipe from the manual that came with the machine)

200g caramel maison, slowly warmed in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (otherwise it will clump)
1 cup full cream milk, well chilled
500ml thickened (heavy) cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar (we used white – not caster, it is not quite as fine as caster, although you probably could use it if it was all you had)

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and sugar, until the sugar is dissolved (about 1-2 minutes on low speed). Stir in the cream and vanilla. If you have a churner (I have the Cuisinart ICE-20A), turn it on, pour mixture into freezer bowl and let mix until thickened. If you don’t have a machine, never fear! Check out this great how-to by the amazing David Lebovitz. Just use the same ingredients, but follow David’s method. TIP – make sure your chilled ingredients are super, super cold. And if you are using a churner like this one, make sure your freezer bowl is completely frozen – no sloshing of water, and take the freezer bowl out after you have assembled the machine and are completely ready to go.

Well, ours didn’t thicken. So, we left in in the churner for about an hour and then decided to put the whole thing in the freezer (which is what they recommend for optimum results). The next day, it was great!

Peanut Praline:

  • 1 handful of peanuts, I used unsalted but you could definitely use salted if you wanted
  • 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar (I only used half a cup here but realised I needed a lot more)

Line a baking tray with baking paper, and place down peanuts. Don’t spread them out too far, but you don’t want them to be too close together, either. Place the sugar in a shallow frying pan, and ensure it is evenly spread. Cook over medium heat. After a few minutes, sugar will start to bubble and darken around the edges of the pan. Once this happens, push the darkened sugar towards the centre of the pan. The rest of the sugar will begin to melt and darken as well.

Once all the sugar has darkened to a light brown colour, carefully pour it evenly over the nuts. If you like the burnt and bitter toffee flavour, you could definitely take the sugar a bit further. I did a horrible job of coating the nuts, but as I said earlier, I needed a lot more sugar. Leave to set, this will happen very quickly. Once praline is completely hard, cover with a layer of baking paper, and use a hammer or a meat tenderiser to break up the praline. If you want large shards, don’t break it up too much. If you want it completely crushed into tiny pieces, almost like a powder, it is best to blitz it in a food processor.

Churned ice cream definitely has a different consistency to store bought ice cream. Even though there was a lot of milk and cream in the recipe, it still had a slightly sorbet-y like texture which I really loved. Whilst it was quite sweet and filling, it wasn’t too heavy and overly creamy like so many ice creams from the shops.

To serve, we topped the ice cream with a little more of the caramel maison and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. And a few pieces of the praline, of course. I really recommend making your own ice cream if you have the time. You can do it without a machine, so don’t let the fact that you don’t have one put you off! You can make your own flavours and add your own colours, and I promise that if you find a great recipe, it will taste just as good, and will be so much cheaper than a tub of Ben and Jerry’s 🙂

Caramel au beurre sale macarons (Salted Butter Caramel Macarons)

Caramel has always been my favourite dessert flavour. McDonalds sundaes, always caramel, milkshakes, always caramel. So when the idea of salted caramel became quite the phenomenon, I was delighted. Salt and Caramel are the best flavour combination, and when coupled with butter, really, how can one go wrong? Surprisingly, I had never tried making a real, homemade caramel. Although now that I have, I definitely think it will be a regular occurrence! So, here are my Caramel au beurre sale` macarons, my Salted Butter Caramel macarons.

The recipe I used for the caramel was another of Zumbo’s wonders. It is a two-step process and does take quite a lot of effort, but trust me, if you are a caramel lover, you will be in heaven, I guarantee.

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/2 tsp good quality cocoa

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the cocoa now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench, and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack.

The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Caramel Maison: (this recipe is on page 245 of Adriano Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 220g pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • 120g water (this is just under 1 cup)
  • 300g caster (white) sugar
  • 60g liquid glucose (available at most supermarkets)

Place the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Then, remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla bean if you are using one. In the meantime, place the water, sugar and glucose in a larger saucepan over a low-medium heat and cook until the glucose and sugar are fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Zumbo’s says to use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the saucepan in order to avoid crystalisation, however you can also just place the saucepan in really hot water with suds just after use and the sugar will melt off really easily. Increase the heat to medium, and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches a dark amber colour. This does take quite a while, and I was getting worried that mine would not work, but persistence is key here, it will eventually darken after 6-7 minutes. Very carefully stir the cream mixture into the sugar mixture slowly – be very careful because it spits and releases lot of heat. I found the best way to do this was with a spoon with a very long handle, as you want to keep your face as far away from the saucepan whilst it is spitting. If you don’t have a spoon with a super long handle, just add the cream really slowly and try to stir as best you can! Keep stirring as much as you can until the caramel settles down, then stir until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 300g caramel maison
  • 4.5g sea salt flakes

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Warm the caramel maison in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (mine needed 1 min, 20 seconds on high as it was in the fridge overnight), however, just warm it in stages to prevent burning the caramel. With the beater running slowly, add the caramel maison to the butter and continue mixing until thick. Once I had added about half of my caramel, I got a bit worried because it looked like it was curdling, however as I kept adding the caramel, it began to thicken up. So don’t freak out until you have added all of the caramel to the butter 🙂 Once you have added all of the caramel, fold in the salt. I did not measure my salt, as I used a shaker. So if you too are using a shaker, just salt to taste.

Place caramel buttercream in a piping bag with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 – 3/4 tsp onto a macaron shell, and sandwich with another. Place in refrigerator to set. Bring macarons down to room temperature to serve.

If you are not up to making macarons just yet, this caramel buttercream could be used for so many different things. It would be great mixed into a hot chocolate, in a milkshake, or as a topping over ice cream. You could also use it as a tart filling, and even as icing on a cupcake. Mmm…I’m getting hungry just thinking about them all!

Have a great weekend! X