E is for 'Eat Dessert First' cupcakes

This recipe is from The Crabapple Bakery's 'Cupcake Cookbook', by Jennifer Graham.  Page 81 to be precise! 

These little gems are sticky date cupcakes with caramel frosting.  You certainly wouldn't want to eat too many of these - they are really good but a bit on the indulgent side!  Definitely a good cupcake recipe to make if you are having a few people over as it made 28 cupcakes.  I used muffin-size tins & foil cupcake cases filled to 3/4 full.  Now - there are so many variations on cupcake case & tin size...all I'll say is you might end up with more or less.  Simple.

These cupcakes didn't go as smoothly as planned.  Making the actual cupcakes themselves was straight forward.  But when it came to icing them, I was in the middle of my 'grr..nothing is going right for me!!!' baking day.  We've all been there - they are the days we dare not speak of when your kitchen looks like a bomb site & baking has gone from an enjoyment to something more akin to a chore...

Anyway, when I first looked at the recipe & wrote down what ingredients I needed to get from the supermarket, I failed to turn to the separate page at the back of the book which listed the ingredients for the caramel sauce frosting.  Always the way!  The frosting had cream in it - which I didn't have of course!  Thankfully (& randomly!) I had some cream cheese in the fridge so I used a Peggy Porschen recipe for caramel frosting which is made with cream cheese.  The adaptation didn't stop there...for the caramel itself I used a tin of Nestle Top 'n' Fill caramel.  I wouldn't recommend this though as I didn't think that the flavour was very caramel-y.  I think you would get a better result making the caramel yourself. 

One more issue with the frosting - I only had 80% fat reduced Philadelphia cream cheese & Peggy's recipe called for full fat.  I didn't think this would be an issue but my frosting didn't set particularly well so I suspect that it might have been different had I used full fat. 

Enough talk - let's move on to the recipe!


For the cakes...

450g dates, pitted & diced (life is too short to do this yourself so if you ever see dates that have been pre-pitted & diced - buy those!)
2 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (I couldn't be bothered grating fresh ginger so I used ground ginger instead)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon mixed spice
120g softened butter
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
4 eggs

For the caramel frosting...

100g butter
2/3 cups soft brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup cream
8 cups icing sugar

To make the cupcakes...
  1. Put dates & water into a saucepan & bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat & add ginger & baking soda.  Mix well. Allow date mixture to cool to room temperature.  To speed this along, I carefully tipped the mixture into another heatproof bowl. 
  2. Heat oven to 180C.  Line three 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake cases (this mixture will definitely be enough for 24 cupcakes, so in the third tray start by putting in a couple of cases & see how far the mixture goes from there).
  3. Sift flour, ground cloves & mixed spice together in a separate bowl.
  4. Using a free-standing or hand-held electric mixer, cream butter for 1-2 mins.  Add half of the sugar & beat for 2 mins.  Add remaining sugar & beat until sugar has dissolved & mixture is light & fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between each. 
  6. Stop beating the mixture & fold in the dry ingredients. 
  7. Add the date mixture & fold well until everything is combined. 
  8. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, filling each to 3/4 full.
  9. Bake for 20 mins or until a skewer or thin knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre. 
  10. Cool cupcakes on wire racks. 
To make the caramel frosting...
  1. In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, golden syrup & cream over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir occasionally to avoid burning the sugar.
  2. Once sugar has dissolved, increase the heat & boil for at least 5 mins. 
  3. Remove from heat & cool mixture to room temperature.
  4. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
  5. Pour the caramel mixture into the bowl of an electric free-standing or hand-held mixer.  Add half the sifted icing sugar & beat for 3 mins on a medium speed or until the mixture is light & fluffy (use the splash guard or a tea towel over the top of the bowl to prevent a shroud of icing sugar going all over yourself & your kitchen!).  Switch the mixer off before adding the remaining icing sugar & then beat well again for a further 3 mins until mixture is light, fluffy & of a spreadable consistency.  Add extra cream if mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if it's too wet.
It's up to you how you ice these - you could spread the icing on the cupcakes using a spatula or pipe the icing on depending on consistency. 

Alternative icing - Peggy Porschen's caramel frosting

* This recipe is from Peggy's Boutique Baking cookbook, pg 61

200g full-fat cream cheese
200g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar - sifted
120g soft caramel (either make your own by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk submerged in water for 3hrs or if you can't be bothered with that, try using shop bought caramel or dulce de leche.)

To make the frosting...
  1. Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl & beat until smooth & creamy.
  2. Place butter & icing sugar in a separate bowl & cream together until very pale & fluffy.
  3. Add a little cream cheese at a time to the butter mixture & beat well until combined. 
  4. Add the caramel & beat until combined.
  5. Chill until set.


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