Salty sweet – a combination that can't be beat. Using a pinch of good-quality sea salt gives the frosting the crunchy saltiness that makes these cupcakes just perfect. Makes 12-16 cupcakes.
YOU WILL NEED
For the sponge 70g/2½ oz unsalted butter, softened
170g/6oz plain flour
250g/9oz caster sugar
50g/1½oz cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
210ml/7½ fl oz whole milk
2 large eggs For the frosting 670g/1lb 7oz icing sugar, sifted
210g/7½ oz unsalted butter, softened
70ml/2½ fl oz whole milk
30g/1oz tinned caramel or dulce de leche
Pinch of good-quality sea salt, such as Maldon
For the filling and decoration 100g/3½oz tinned caramel or dulce de leche
Pinch of good-quality sea salt Equipment One or two 12-hole deep muffin tins
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/ Gas Mark 3, and line the muffin tins with paper muffin cases, to make the number you require.
First, make the sponge. In a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or using a hand-held electric whisk, mix the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together, until they form a crumb-like consistency.
In a jug, mix together the milk and eggs by hand. With the mixer or whisk on a slow speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and mix thoroughly until combined. Raise the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and thick, with no lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl now and then.
Once all lumps are gone, turn the speed back down and gradually pour in the remaining liquid, continuing to mix until the batter is smooth and combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases, filling them two-thirds full. Using a 50ml/1½fl oz ice-cream scoop can make this process easier and will result in even cupcakes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, using the electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or the hand-held electric whisk, gradually mix the icing sugar and butter together on a low speed until combined and there are no large lumps of butter. Gradually add the milk while mixing on a slow speed. Add the dulce de leche/caramel and sea salt and mix thoroughly. Turn up the speed and beat until light and fluffy.
Once the cupcakes are cool, use a sharp knife to make a hollow in the centre of each cupcake, approximately 2cm/½in in diameter and about 3cm/1½in deep. Retain the cut-out piece of sponge.
Spoon about one teaspoon of the dulce de leche filling into the hollow. Replace the cut-out piece of sponge, trimming to fit and pressing down gently to ensure that the top is level with the rest of the cake. Spoon generous amounts of the frosting on to each cupcake, then gently smooth over with a palette knife, making a swirl at the top if you wish.
To finish, spoon about one teaspoon of dulce de leche filling on the top of each frosted cupcake, swirling it slightly into the frosting, and add a light sprinkling of sea salt.