Chocolate cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing

As my first blog post I thought I would write about baking, because that after all, is what first got me into cooking. I’ve always liked cooking but in the past 9 months I have had to branch out after becoming low fodmap. For those of you that don’t know about fodmap (Fermentable Oligosacchrides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) it’s a food plan that is followed by many people with IBS or coeliac disease as well as a number of other conditions or simply by those making a lifestyle choice. The food plan (I call it this because diet suggests it’s for weight loss) involves cutting out substantial food groups, such as wheat, lactose (only products with a high quantity) and various sugars. However, for me the difficulty came with no longer being allowed to eat vegetables such as onions, mushrooms or garlic. You won’t believe how many prepared foods they are in! As a result, I had to start making everything for myself, no more jars of Dolmio or packs of soup for me! This was no bad thing though, as it pushed me to experiment with new types of food I had never even heard of.

And that brings me to today, I’m still experimenting with foods, but as a final year student I’m doing it all on a budget so I often have to substitute some of the pricier products for cheaper alternatives.

Like every good student knows procrast-a-baking is a great pass time, especially when you have a big deadline looming! Accordingly, I decided a good use of my day would be to bake some cupcakes to take to a friend that I’m going to visit this weekend.

At first I was thinking 20160128_104809.jpgabout doing a banana and chocolate combination (because who doesn’t love that?) but after realising that the answer to that was the friend in question (madness I know) I decided to go for a more classic chocolate cupcake. However, this seemed a bit dull and easy so I thought I’d spice it up with a fudge element to it. Fudge has been a bit of an obsession of mine for the past year and my poor friends, family and housemates have had to eat their way through countless batches in that time. I’ll post some of my ‘success story’ recipes later on but trust me there have been many attempts!

After going to visit my cousin for her 21st birthday this weekend, where she had a cake with salted caramel icing, I was inspired to try out my own recipe. And it has a fudge element to it! I decided to make my own caramel rather then buying it from a shop, partly because I have a lot of experience with making fudge and this was similar and partly so I could control what exactly goes into it. They sometimes have cream in, which is a big no-no for low fodmap, also buying some involved having to go to the shops to get it!

For these cupcakes, I made a chocolate fudge sponge, which actually turned out to be really light and not too sweet but this worked well with the salted caramel icing and the layer of melted chocolate in between the two.

Cupcake Ingredients (Makes 18 cupcakes)

115g Salted Butter (melted)

55g Milk Chocolate (I always use galaxy)

105g Self Raising Flour

50g Caster Sugar

50g Light Brown Soft Sugar

40g Cocoa Powder (I use cadbury’s)

2 large Eggs

Teaspoon of Vanilla Essence

120ml Buttermilk 

I make my own butter milk (so that it is fodmap friendly) using lemon juice and lacto-free milk. Simply put 2 teaspoons of lemon juice in a measuring jug and then top it up with milk until it reaches 1/2 a cup. Then leave to sit for 5 mins before using.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and line a cupcake tin with cases.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Make sure to stop and check it regularly, stirring each time. Normally once the butter has melted the heat will melt any bits of chocolate left when you stir the mixture.
  3. Next put the sieved cocoa powder and the sieved flour together in a bowl and mix.
  4. Whisk in the eggs, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla essence. Keep whisking until it is smooth and well combined. 
  5. Add the chocolate/butter mixture (which should have now cooled slightly) to the flour mix and again whisk until smooth. The batter should be very thick by now.
  6. Add half of the butter milk and mix, before adding the remaining half and whisking again. Be careful to not over beat.
  7. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, making sure not to over fill. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then check every minute or two beyond that. If you prefer a harder and richer sponge bake for up to 15 mins, if you prefer a lighter sponge take out soon after 10 minutes. When ready to take out a toothpick should come out clean when inserted. 
  8. Leave to cool completely before icing.

You can choose to buy your caramel or make your own like I did.

Caramel Ingredients 

50g Salted Butter

100g Light Brown Sugar 

Teaspoon of liquid Glucose

50ml of Lacto-free milk

The caramel is very simple to make, simply put all the ingredients in a heavy based pan, mixing until combined. Once it starts to boil and bubble leave for 2 minutes and then take off the heat, mixing thoroughly. Be very careful not to leave for any longer or you might end up making fudge!

20160127_163551.jpgIcing Ingredients 

Tablespoon of lacto-free cream cheese

1 Tin of caramel (or homemade as above)

300g Icing Sugar (sifted)

50g Salted Butter (softened)

Pinch of salt (large)

Method

  1. Making sure the butter is soft (if not zap in the microwave for ten seconds) use an electric whisk or food processor to mix the butter and the icing sugar. Continue to mix until light and fluffy. You want it to be slightly stiffer than the end product. Add more icing sugar if you find it necessary. 
  2. Add in the cream cheese and beat, again letting it become slightly stiffer than desired. At this point you may want to add more icing sugar or cream cheese depending on how sweet you want the icing. 
  3. Add the caramel (make sure it’s cool if you made it) and the salt. You can use flakes or normal salt – I find table salt works fine and is much cheaper!
  4. Continue to beat the mixture for a further 5 minutes at least to make it light and fluffy. The more you whisk or beat it the better it will look and go on.
  5. All that is left now is to ice your cakes – I topped mine with grated chocolate but you could use salt flakes. 

Happy Baking!

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