It has become disturbingly fashionable to vilify this simple food in recent years.
I find it really irritating that the media latches on to comments made by self proclaimed experts, with no real credentials, and qualified experts who do science a disservice by cherry-picking evidence to support their case. But I will not rant about this here. Oh wait, I just did 😉
I will, however, share this very good article posted recently, that sheds some light on the debate over the role of fructose in the rise of obesity. It is a short but excellent article published by Forbes.
Remember that the poison is usually in the dose. Too much of anything in our diets is usually bad for our health. Even water in excess is dangerous.
Unless one has a medically diagnosed condition, or food intolerance, that requires the restriction or elimination of sugars from the diet, a little sugar will not be detrimental to one’s health. It is a matter of moderation. Isn’t everything?
Nothing says moderation in the cake universe like a cupcake. Cupcakes should be delightfully delicious but their modest single-serve portion size make them a great way to indulge a sweet tooth.
Nothing is quite as delightful or indulgent as the combination of salted caramel and chocolate … so I humbly offer up my own chocolate cupcakes with salted vanilla caramel buttercream. I would normally inject a little of the salted vanilla caramel sauce into the chocolate cupcakes. I highly recommend it if you love your salted caramel!
Enjoy in moderation 😉
Salted Vanilla Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
These cupcakes are moist and chocolatey but light in texture. They make a great standard chocolate cupcake suitable for any frosting.
Unfrosted, they will keep fresh for several days, stored at room temperature, in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to one month before frosting.
100 grams dark chocolate, chopped (I used Cacao Barry Guayaquil 64%)
125 grams unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
125 grams sugar
3 grams (1 teaspoon) pure vanilla powder OR 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
104 grams whole eggs (2 large)
150 grams plain flour
10 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
125 grams milk
Salted Vanilla Caramel Buttercream (recipe below)
Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 175℃. Prepare 15 standard cupcake liners on a lined baking sheet and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave and stir until smooth. Set aside to let cool slightly.
Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat on low to medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and beat on low speed until incorporated.
Sift together the plain flour and baking powder. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture and mix until smooth.
Add the milk to the batter, while mixing, and finally the remaining flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
Finally, fold through the melted chocolate, making sure the batter is well mixed and no streaks remain.
Divide the mixture between the cupcake liners. Bake at 175℃ for 20 minutes or until risen and cooked through. Make sure not to over bake the cupcakes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Half fill a large piping bag with the Salted Vanilla Caramel Buttercream. Use whatever decorative or plain tip you prefer. Pipe swirls of buttercream on each cupcake.
Finish with a drizzle of extra Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce.
Once frosted, the cupcakes will keep fresh for a several days, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Salted Vanilla Caramel Buttercream
This is a gorgeous buttercream that is not overly sweet and is quite light in texture. The salted vanilla caramel sauce elevates it to a whole new level.
If you have any leftover buttercream, it keeps well for several days in the refrigerator. Before using, allow to come to room temperature and then beat it again until light and fluffy.
You will need a thermometer for the sugar syrup in the recipe.
66 grams egg whites (from 2 large eggs)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
20 grams caster sugar
28 grams water
75 grams caster sugar
175 grams unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
100g Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk until frothy. Add the first amount of caster sugar in a steady stream while still whisking. Continue to whisk at medium speed while you prepare the sugar syrup.
Place the water into a stainless steel or copper saucepan. Add the second amount of caster sugar in the centre. Place over a low to medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Do not stir the syrup as it cooks. Raise the heat and cook the syrup until it reaches 130℃.
By this stage, the egg whites should have reached a soft peak stage. As you continue to whisk, add the hot syrup in a steady stream, down the sides of the meringue. Avoid pouring directly down the side of the bowl or on to the whisk. Keep whisking until the meringue reaches stiff peaks and is cooled completely.
Make sure the butter is at room temperature and soft and pliable, or else the buttercream will be lumpy. By the same token, make sure your meringue has cooled so that it won’t melt the butter, making the buttercream runny.
Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment.
Add the butter one-third at a time, beating well after each addition until the cubes of butter have been fully incorporated into the meringue. The mixture will appear to separate a little but just keep whisking and it will become smooth and light and fluffy.
Add the Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce and beat until incorporated.
The buttercream is now ready to pipe.
If making ahead of time, store covered and airtight in the refrigerator for several days.
This buttercream can also be frozen for up to a month before defrosting, beating and using.
Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce
This caramel sauce is beautiful and so versatile. Use it to flavour frostings and other fillings. Use it as a topping for gelato or swirled through yoghurt. It makes a great addition to almost any dessert, or topping for fruits, cookies, or just grab a spoon …
Store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for several weeks. Warm through before using.
140 grams sugar
140 grams (137 millilitres) cream, 35% fat
100 grams unsalted butter
2 grams pure vanilla powder OR 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
fleur de sel or sea salt q.b.
Place the sugar into a stainless steel saucepan. I prefer stainless steel as this allows me to see the colour of the caramel as it cooks.
In a separate saucepan, place the cream and heat gently until it reaches boiling point. Switch off the heat.
Place the pan over a low heat and gently stir the sugar as it dissolves. The best action is to gently move the sugar toward the middle of the pan and back, checking the edges of the pan for any sugar that is dissolving and colouring too quickly and mix it in. Don’t take your eyes off it for a second and have patience. When it is all dissolved, stop stirring and let it cook until the colour deepens. You can gently swirl the caramel on the base of the pan to make sure the caramel darkens evenly. Cook the sugar until the caramel is a lovely deep amber colour.
When ready, carefully pour in the warmed cream, stirring as you go. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and salt (to taste), and stir in the butter in two batches. Stir until the caramel is smooth and silky. Pour the caramel into a bowl or jar, and set it aside to cool before using.