Deliciously moist brown sugar caramel cupcakes, topped with caramel buttercream, and a tower of caramel popcorn. Sweet, sticky, gooey and satisfying, just the thing to celebrate the end of January!
Right now the house is filled with flowers. There are delicate pink roses sat on the hearth, beautiful petals twisting outwards from the bud. In the kitchen window vibrant yellow daffodils nod their trumpet heads, and cheerful tulips brighten the side table. It makes me so happy when spring flowers find their way into florists and supermarkets. Bunches of daffodils, stacked up, green stems tied together with string, buds still closed waiting to burst open. Tulips wrapped in brown paper, pastel colours and bright green leaves. A promise of spring when its gloomy and grey.
Today we say goodbye to January – hurray! Has it seemed like a long month to you? It has for me. I’m always quite glad to see the back of it. It feels like the year can really get underway once its gone. Once February comes along, and the little green shoots of bulbs are poking their way out of frozen ground, it seems as if March is just around the corner, and then we’re almost at Easter, and after that the warmth of summer and everything it brings can’t be too far away.
These cupcakes are to celebrate the end of the toughest month of the year, to celebrate February and the promise of Spring.
They are deliciously scrummy little cupcakes, a real sweet treat. The recipe list may look quite long, but most of the ingredients are repeated. Made with brown sugar, and golden syrup, they are rich and caramelly. The brown sugar makes them extra soft and moist.
The buttercream is flavoured with caramel sauce, and they’re topped with a soaring tower of caramel coated popcorn.
Oh that popcorn. I just couldn’t stop eating it as I was taking my photos, sneaking little golden sticky bites of it away. Its covered in caramel and heated in the oven on a low heat to create an even coating. It sets, but not too hard, making it the perfect texture to cover the popcorn, giving it a shiny glossy coating and a moreish crunch. While its still warm its shaped and placed on the cupcakes, a crowning glory.
A drizzle of caramel sauce, and a little dark chocolate for a little bitter contrast if you fancy, finishes them off.
They’re sticky, messy and incredibly satisfying. Dive into them with a fork, smash through the popcorn and dig in.
– read through the timings before beginning the recipe. The buttercream and the popcorn both require a little time to cool or bake so you may wish to make them earlier in the process.
– the popcorn needs shaping as soon as it comes out of the oven while its still warm. It shouldn’t be too hot, but be careful! A little longer in the oven won’t hurt it, so leave it in a few minutes more if you’re not ready to top of the cupcakes.
Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes
for the cupcakes
170g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
115g dark brown sugar
55g caster sugar
170g self raising flour
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons golden syrup
for the buttercream
125g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
150ml double cream
100g unsalted butter, softened
60g full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
150g icing sugar
for the popcorn
100g pre-popped popcorn
4og golden syrup
60g unsalted butter
pinch cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
25g dark chocolate to drizzle, optional.
First, make the cupcakes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan / 350F.
Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with paper cases.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, dark brown sugar and caster sugar. Beat until the mixture has paled and is smooth.
Add in one of the eggs along with a tablespoon of flour. Mix to combine. Repeat with the remaining eggs, adding a tablespoon of flour each time. Finally beat in the remainder of the flour.
Beat in the milk, vanilla extract and golden syrup until all the ingredients are well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cases.
Put into the centre of the pre-heated oven, and bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are risen and golden, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the buttercream. Begin by making the caramel sauce that will flavour the buttercream. Take a large pan and heat together the caster sugar, water and golden syrup. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away, until much of the water has evaporated, and the sugar is turning a golden amber colour.
Remove from the heat and melt in 25g of butter, then whisk in the cream. If any of the sugar has solidified, put back on the heat for a few minutes to melt it again. Put to one side and cool completely.
Once cool, beat 100g of butter until soft, then sift in the icing sugar and beat until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Add two tablespoons of your cooled caramel sauce, reserving the remainder of the sauce to drizzle over the cupcakes. Fold in the caramel. Spread evenly over the cooled cupcakes. No need to pipe as we’re going to top them with the popcorn.
Make the popcorn.
Preheat the oven to 90C/ 70C fan / 200F.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and spread out your popcorn across the sheet.
Heat the golden syrup, butter, cream of tartar and salt in a heavy based pan. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will bubble up. Pour over the popcorn and stir until the popcorn is evenly covered.
Put in the oven and heat on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about half an hour.
Remove from the oven and straight away mould the popcorn with your hands and top your cupcakes.
Drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce.