I love these afternoons with my little boy. It's a great way for us to do something together and get our hands dirty. He loves to help mix and add things to the bowl, and his favourite part has to be licking the beaters and spoon (and if he can, the bowl) when we're finished!
I did leave a few cupcakes without caramel centres for my sons lunchbox. I didn't want him jumping off the walls at daycare and coming home in a horrid mode (moreso than usual). A success all round!
120g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
160g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g butter, at room temperature
120 ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter. Mix using an electric beater until you get a sandy consistency. On a low speed, beat in half the milk until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining milk with the egg and vanilla. Add to batter mix on a medium speed until smooth. Don't over beat, but make sure it is smooth and not lumpy.
Pour the mixture into individual cupcake holders about 2/3's the way. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When ready, remove from oven and allow to completely cool. Once at room temperature, cut a hole in the top of each cupcake in preparation for the caramel filling. Keep the tops of the holes, but trim them slightly so you can fill each with caramel then place the top back on.
Dulce de leche
Recipe from Food Safari, SBS
1 litre whole milk
230g white sugar
50g brown sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 vanilla bean
Combine 1 cup of milk, the white sugar, bicarbonate soda and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium to low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.
When it starts turning caramel in colour add 1 cup of milk and brown sugar. Continue stirring all the time.
When it starts thickening add 1 cup of milk and keep stirring. As it thickens add the last cup of milk and the glucose, turn down the heat and continue stirring until you can see the bottom of the saucepan or if you put a bit on a plate and it does not run, approximately 40 minutes cooking time.
Remove from stove and keep stirring for a few minutes. Cover and allow to cool before using in the cupcakes and icing. When cool, spoon about a teaspoon worth of caramel into each of the cupcake holes, then place the "lid" over the caramel.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
142g butter, cubed and at room temp
In the base of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch, about five minutes depending on the original temperature of the eggs. When the mixture has warmed sufficiently, pour it into the bowl and whip on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature, ten to fifteen minutes. When the bowl is no longer warm, turn the mixer to medium-low and begin adding the butter piece by piece. Let each chunk incorporate completely before adding the next and don't rush the process! Fold through remaining caramel.
Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag and top each cupcake. If the caramel gets stucks in the nozzel, spread the buttercream onto each cupcake with a spatula or knife.