Toffee Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes

“Everybody’s got their poison, and mine is sugar.” Derrick Rose

The origin of caramel is neither romantic, nor truly ancient. Hard candies flourished as early as the 17th century, where economical, easily transportable products with a long shelf life were mostly preferred, but candy makers discovered only in the 19th century that by adding milk and fat products to the traditional cooked sugar mixture, a sweet, chewy confection was created. This new creation soon became known as “caramel” and its popularity grew quickly. It’s the heating of the milk solids and fats, fused with the sugar ingredients, that creates the typical caramel flavour. During this time, caramels were also made with sugar beet juice because refined sugar was expensive. Milton Hershey’s candy making empire began with caramels. His first company was Lancaster Caramel Company.

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Ingredients
For the sponge 40 g  butter, softened
140 g light brow sugar
140 g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
100 ml  milk
20 ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 large egg
70 g dulce de leche
For the frosting
500 g icing sugar
160 g unsalted butter, softened
50 ml milk
100 g dulce de leche

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Making Dulche de leche
Combine 950 ml whole milk, 250 g sugar,1 teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon baking soda in large pot over medium low heat, stir until the sugar is well dissolved. Reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking until the mixture is significantly reduced and starts to thicken while the color changes from a creamy beige to a caramel tone – it will take between 2 ½ hours to 3 hours for the dulce de leche to be done. During the first 1 ½ hours it needs to be stirred occasionally to prevent it from boiling over and sticking. During the last hour it needs to be stirred more frequently and has to be watched very closely to keep it from burning, also decreasing the heat to low. Cook it until it has a dark amber or caramel tone and has a creamy consistency, however, it will thicken more when it cools down.

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Making the Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 190°C, and line a muffin tin. Whisk together the butter, sugar, flour and salt on a low speed until crumb-like in consistency. Place the milk, cream and vanilla essence in a separate bowl with the eggs and whisk by hand until combined. Pour  three-quarters of this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together on a slow speed. Add the remaining milk mixture and caramel, and continue to mix until all the ingredients are  incorporated. Divide the batter between the muffin cases. Place in the oven and bake for 18–20 minutes or until well
risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack before frosting. To make icing beat the icing sugar with  the butter until combined. Slowly mix in the milk and whisk until light and fluff y. Add the caramel and beat in well. Fill the cooled cupcakes with hazelnut spread and decorate with toffee popcorn.

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After all, as some say, a balanced diet is very simple: sweets in each hand…

8 thoughts on “Toffee Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes

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