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Apple Caramel Cupcakes

It’s 2am. I’m perched before my computer in the shadows, my face illuminated only by the sickly glow of the monitor. My eyes, heavy like a million suns, desperately struggle to remain alert. Amongst piles of notes, papers (and at least 40 tabs open in Safari) sits a solitary tub of Nutella. From my mouth hangs a chocolate-stained spoon. Sanity in a jar. Sweet, hazelnutty stress relief.

Okay, I’m not the most poetic of writers so I’ll just draw the scene for you instead.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

So amongst the chaos that have been the past three weeks (taking photos, essay writing, picture editing, interning, event snapping, illustrating, etc etc!) my dad asked yesterday if I could make something for his fundraising morning tea at work for tomorrow. WHERE WILL I FIND THE TIME TO DO THIS?! Oh dad, it’s lucky this is for a charity event and there’s no way I could possibly say no to you, lord knows how much I love to bake for a good cause and help you out.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

I remember seeing this style of decorating around the internet, I’m sure if you google “apple cupcakes” some similar looking treats will appear. I just winged it (this is the first time I’ve ever used fondant, ahh) but if anybody knows the original instructions to transforming the humble cupcake into a sparkling faux-apple please let me know so I can link it!

I Instagramed this earlier today as I didn’t think I’d have the time (or daylight, rather) to photograph + blog which explains why I have no detailed/photographed instructions re: the assembly so I drew something stupid for your viewing pleasure instead. This recipe makes 12 adorable cupcakes.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Apple Caramel Cupcakes
(an original recipe)

Caramel apple
1 large apple, chopped into small pieces
20g butter
30g brown sugar

Cake batter
100g butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
30g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
170g (1 1/2 cups) flour
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon

Buttercream
150g butter, room temperature
350g (3 cups) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs milk
Red and green food colouring (I used gel)

Assembly
Red and green sanding sugar
1 Flake
Fondant
Green food colouring

For the caramel apple
1. In a small frying pan melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Add chopped apples and stir until sauce has reduced and caramelised nicely. The apples should just be beginning to tender. Remove from heat and place in a heatproof bowl to cool.

For the cake batter
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Beat butter until it begins to cream and pale. Add the sugars and continue to beat until combined and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating and incorporating well after each addition. Add the flour, milk, baking powder and cinnamon and once again beat until completely combined. Stir in the caramel apple pieces.
3. Spoon batter into a prepared cupcake tin with liners. Place in oven and bake for aound 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream
1. Beat butter until it begins to cream and pale. Add icing sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy. Add milk until an ideal consistency is reached; it should be firm yet spreadable. Divide buttercream in half and add red colouring to one portion and green to the other.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

For the assembly
1. Prepare fondant with green food colouring. Take a small piece and roll into a ball in the palm of your hand. Flatten into an oval shape and, with the back of a knife, score the piece vertically down the middle. Add a few additional, horizontal scores. Curl the leaf slightly, pinch its edges and allow to sit to return to room temperature.
2. Ice your cupcakes ensuring its entire surface is covered. Dip cupcakes into a bowl of sanding sugar ensuring the buttercream can no longer be seen. Gently break up the flake bar and insert a pice into each cupcake as the twig. Add the fondant leaves with a little buttercream to ensure they will stay put.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Okay, that was a nice distraction, I must now to finish this essay by midnight and it’s not going to write itself. Wish me luck!!

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Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

A few weeks ago I enthusiastically jumped aboard my beer-wife high-horse and purchased a dozen Brewdog There Is No Santa beers. In retrospect this was a little strange as traditionally I only revel in beers that taste overwhelmingly of fruit and unfortunately this purchase was no exception to my girly tastebuds; despite its charming notes of cinnamon and spice I could only bring myself to drink the one.

Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

However with my glass (stein?) half-full I chose not to see this as a frivolous purchase but as an opportunity to adapt this wonderful beer to the culinary world.

Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

Drawing inspiration from my Framboise Caramels I hoped to achieve a similar chewy and delicious beer-based morsel. With the addition of of some spice to heighten the essence of this micro-brewed Christmas beer you’ll have salty, sweet, buttery, bitter and spicy flavours partying all up and around your mouth. And isn’t this what flavoured caramel is all about?

Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

Shout outs to all fellow beer and candy fans. Oh, and to people who own candy thermometers, shout outs to you too. Seriously! Please don’t try this recipe without one; unless you are Lord of the Fluke the consistency of the caramel won’t turn out as nicely as you’d like so just don’t. Please? Ok good. I’m only harsh because I care. Mwa mwa! This recipe makes around 40 caramels, depending on the size.

 

Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

(an original recipe)

 

1x 330ml bottle spiced beer (I used Brewdog’s There Is No Santa)

2/3 cups cream

2 tbs sea salt flakes + more for garnish

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cups corn syrup / glucose

120g butter, cubed

 

1. Pour beer into small pan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 1/3 cup. This should take around 20-25 minutes. Place in fridge (or freezer) to cool.

Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

2. Line a square tin with baking paper. Once your reduced beer has cooled combine with cream, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves. Stir well.

3. Combine sugar and corn syrup over low heat until dissolved. Increase heat until syrup has caramelised – 112°C on your candy thermometer. Do not stir during this process or the syrup will crystallise.

4. Remove from heat and slowly pour in your cream mixture, stirring quickly as you do so. Be careful has the concoction will try to splutter everywhere. Continue to stir to break up the caramel ball formed whilst adding the cubed butter. Don’t worry if you’re unable to dissolve everything.

5. Return to low heat and stir frequently until the temperature reaches 120°C on your candy thermometer.

6. Pour caramel into prepared tin and allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle with rock salt and allow to cool completely – either overnight on your kitchen bench or in the fridge to speed up the process. Cut into small squares and wrap with baking paper, twisting at the ends like traditional candies. Sprinkle with more rock salt if desired.

Salted Spiced Beer Caramels

BRB, MAKING AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE DENTIST (and possibly AA).

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Fancy beers and candy making. This new, almost-obsession of mine would not be possible without the influence of my boyfriend, the boutique beer connoisseur slash home-brewer, who has taught me there is life outside of gaging over Coronas.

This little experiment is testament to the cliché “if at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again”. My first attempt tasted spectacular but didn’t set. My second attempt set however lacked that caramely-smack-in-the-mouth (is that even a thing? It is now). My third attempt, thank goodness, was wonderful!

The beer I’m using is a framboise; a lambic beer brewed with raspberries. Timmermans is a more syrupy beer than most which makes for a fantastic ingredient in this recipe (if you’re eager to enjoy one in its pure form however I would recommend a Lindemans Framboise for its tangy edge. Mmm).

Combined with caramels, you’ll get sweet, salty, tangy and berry all in one mouthful. Heavenly. And the best advice I can give before you begin this delicious journey into sticky bliss; follow the recipe to a tee! The figures are there for a reason. I’ve based my recipe from this spiced apple recipe as it allows room for variation. Bust out your candy thermometers, things are about to get messy.

 

HOME MADE SALTED FRAMBOISE CARAMELS

2 cups (or 1 bottle) Framboise beer

2/3 cups cream

1 tsp salt + more for garnish

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cups corn syrup / glucose

80 g butter, cubed

powdered red food colouring

1. Pour framboise into small pan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 1/3 cup. Place in fridge (or freezer) to cool.

2. Line a square tin with baking paper. Once your reduced framboise has cooled, combine with cream, salt and food colouring.

3. Combine sugar and corn syrup over low heat until dissolved. Increase heat until syrup has caramelised – 112°C on your candy thermometer. Do not stir during this process or the syrup will crystallise.

4. Remove from heat and slowly pour in your cream mixture, stirring quickly as you do so. Be careful has the concoction will splutter everywhere. Continue to stir to break up the caramel ball formed whilst adding the cubed butter. Don’t worry if you’re unable to dissolve everything.

5. Return to low heat and stir frequently until the temperature reaches 120°C on your candy thermometer.

6. Pour caramel into prepared tin and allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle with rock salt and allow to cool completely – either overnight on your kitchen bench or in the fridge to speed up the process. Cut into small squared and wrap with baking paper, twisting at the ends like traditional candies. Sprinkle with more rock salt if desired.


Being married into beer culture can be pretty neat sometimes.

 

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Inspired by the impending Summer whilst witnessing Heston Blumenthal hurl an entire cherry pie into his creme anglaise on tv I thought – how hard could this be to create a pie-infused ice cream? The answer: NOT VERY. But perhaps I got lucky as this trial-and-error experiment came out pretttttty, pretty good.


Unfortunately the ice cream making process is nowhere near as exciting as Masterchef makes it out to be, no blast chiller means there’s a lot of time spent waiting so if you’re planning on having people over for an ice cream party I suggest you allow a day or two for everything to be prepared, lest you end up with a bowl of slushy, chunky custard. In the meantime however get your patient pants on and prepare a few garnishes like I have below.

 

APPLE PIE ICE CREAM

1 cup milk

100 g sugar

2 egg yolks

1 medium sized apple pie (from your local bakery or frozen)

1 1/2 cup cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp ground cinnamon

CARAMEL SAUCE (adapted from the Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook)

70 g butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tbs golden syrup

1 tsp (heaped) cornflour

2 tbs cream

CANDIED CORNFLAKES

2 cups cornflakes

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbs corn syrup

For the icecream

1. Heat milk in a small saucepan while beating your egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. If the apple pie your using is frozen this is a good time to place it in the oven.

2. Once warmed, slowly pour the hot milk over the yolk/sugar mixture whilst stirring constantly. This is to temper your eggs.

3. Pour the mixture pack into the saucepan and heat, whilst stirring, until it becomes a thick custard. Ensure you do this slowly or you’ll end up with sugary scrambled eggs (eww).

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for half an hour. Add the vanilla, cream and stir to combine. Crumble your pie into the mixture.


5. Put in the refrigerator to cool overnight, or at least 6 hours.

6. The following day strain your mixture to separate the creme anglaise from the apple pie pieces. With a fork, mash the leftover apple pie pieces into a very vague puree and combine once again with creme anglaise. This is entirely optional but I find the pieces of pie in the ice cream create a lovely texture.

7. Prepare in ice cream maker as per manufacturer’s instructions.

 

For the caramel sauce

1. Combine butter and sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to bowl then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

2. Combine water, golden syrup and cornflour in a separate bowl. Add to brown sugar mixture and stir to combine. Bring to boil, reduce heat and summer for 2 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in cream.

 

For the candied cornflakes

1. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until combined and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add cornflakes. Stir until cornflakes are completely covered in syrup and turn out onto baking paper and allow to dry. Once dried, break into shards as a lovely garnish.



 

For the assembly

1. With a warm ice cream scoop, place a few spoons of ice cream in adorable bowls. Top with generous servings of caramel sauce and adorn with candied cornflakes.


And here I was thinking “transeasonal” was a term only used to describe fashion.

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