Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Treacle pudding cupcakes with cinder toffee

Sick of eating cheap Halloween sweeties that the children never came for? No, nor am I. But don't let that stop you trying a more traditional British treat that marks Bonfire Night.

These cupcakes combine two of my favourites: treacle pudding and cinder toffee.

For the sponges
120g unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar
240g plus 6 teaspoons golden syrup 
230g self raising flour
1 medium egg, beaten
140ml full fat milk

For the buttercream
50g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar
teaspoon of lemon zest

For the cinder toffee
4 tablespoons (60ml) golden syrup
200g caster sugar
3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Makes 12

To make the sponges

Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/325°F/Gas mark 3 and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cases.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gentle heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Take the buttery mix off the heat and stir in the flour. Add the milk to the beaten egg, then stir this in until the batter is smooth and well combined.

The batter will be runny – spoon this into the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean. 

Gently stab all the cupcakes with the skewer while they’re still hot, then pour half a teaspoon of golden syrup onto each one.

Remove them from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the buttercream

Beat the icing sugar into the butter with a teaspoon or so of water until it is light and fluffy, then beat in the lemon zest

To make the cinder toffee

Grease a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin.

In a large saucepan, heat the golden syrup and sugar together. At first it looks like an impossible lump of crystals but it will liquefy. 

Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes without stirring. It should be a golden colour – watch that it doesn’t start smoking and burn. You can tell when the mixture is ready by dropping a little bit of syrup into water - it should form a crunchy ball.

Once you’ve reached this stage, remove the pan from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will foam up. Don’t stand about marvelling at the effect, tempting though this may be, but quickly stir in the bicarb for a few seconds then pour it into the cake tin. Don’t smooth the mixture or it will collapse.

Leave to cool, then break the cinder toffee into small pieces. You will be left with way more cinder toffee than you need for the cupcakes. Why not melt some chocolate over it and shout thank Crunchie it’s Friday, even if it’s one of the other weekdays.

You can probably figure out how to assemble your cupcakes but just in case you’re at a loss: put a dollop of lemon buttercream on each cupcake, then stick a chunk of cinder toffee in it.  Enjoy with a sparkler or two.
Bare legs on a winter's night in Northumberland. What was our mother thinking?

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