I sort of missed the cupcake trend when it exploded a few years ago. I don't know why, but they didn't really interest me all that much. I was more into cookies. Also inexplicably, I have quite recently begun to love the idea of cupcakes. Andy's friends recently had a birthday BBQ, and something made me really want to make birthday cupcakes for them. But I didn't want to make just any cupcake. This is what I came up with.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing and Salted Caramel
1 1/2 c. plain flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. bicarb soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vinegar
1 c. water
Heat the oven to 180 and line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarb soda and salt in a large bowl. In a jug or a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and water. Pour these into the flour mixture and mix gently until combined. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 c. icing sugar
3-5 T. soy milk
In an electric mixer, or with a good fork and lots of energy, whisk up the peanut butter until it's a little bit fluffy. Add the icing sugar a bit at a time until the mixture is crumbly. Add soy milk, a tiny bit at a time, until the consistency of the icing is good. This depends on how you want to put it on - for spreading, thicker is better, but for piping you need it to be a bit looser. Mine was too thick, and the cheap piping bag I bought just couldn't contain it - it exploded at the seams, requiring me to lick lots of icing off my hands which was delicious but also made me feel a bit sick. Make sure the cupcakes are fully cool before putting the icing on top.
2 T. vegan butter or coconut oil
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. golden syrup
1 1/2 T. coconut cream (or soy milk)
1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
In the smallest saucepan or skillet you have, mix the butter, sugar, syrup and cream. Put onto medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until everything is melted. Stir occasionally as it comes up to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring pretty often, for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 tsp. of salt, then taste (being careful not to burn your mouth) and see if you want it saltier. Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool to not-quite-molten temperature, stirring every so often. Then drizzle spoonfuls over the icing. The cuppers look best on the day you do the drizzling - the caramel soaked into the icing on the ones that sat overnight.
Sweet, yes, but also fancy and sophisticated and quite delicious. The best part about these cupcakes was that the gift box only fitted 6, so we got to keep the spares :-)