Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hey de ho,

How are you all? Have you been enjoying the weather? I adore it and confess I have been waiting for cloudy, cool weather just like this to photograph cupcakes out the back on our neglected, rather wobbly old gardening table. Not that I’ve ever used it, as gardening is one of those enriching aspects of life that I wish I was interested in, along with liking animals, being outside, or eating avocado. They all seem like such good ideas.

After I made these sticky date cupcakes, I quickly gathered my props, raced downstairs, grateful for a break in the rain, shoved a few plants aside and set up. I am in such a happy place when I am doing something alone, with time and space to focus.

If I was into sports, which is another of those potentially life enriching activities that I wish I found appealing, I know it wouldn’t be as a team player. I would definitely be more into something solitary like archery, or cycling. Actually, forget that, even typing the word cycling has increased my anxiety levels. Let’s just stick with creative pursuits. Phew.

I borrowed my daughter’s ear pod thingies, shoved my iPhone down my bra (perhaps the only benefit of menopause, bigger boobs, and a handy spot to store things when you have no pockets) and started setting up the cupcakes. As I was removing the phone to change music, I dropped it into two cupcakes, right smack in the middle of two big swirls of icing. I couldn’t be bothered going back upstairs to get something to wipe frosting mess up with, so without thinking twice, wiped the phone with my fingers, licked them (yum! that caramel gets me every time) and undaunted, pressed ahead.

I am still scraping icing out of those teeny crevices and my volume switch is a disaster.

Oh well, the price you pay for art.

These cupcakes are pretty timeless. There aren’t too many people who don’t like a good old sticky date pud. Or cupcake. Simmering the dates until they get quite mushy is key here, convincing even the most ardent date hater that you really won’t taste them, I promise. It’s true, they magically provide the most irresistible flavour without actually tasting anything like dates. Mixed with delicious spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, along with a generous dollop of sweet caramel, these little beauties will not disappoint.

Sticky Date Cupcakes


Spicy date cupcakes filled with dulche de leche caramel centre, topped with swirling caramel Swiss meringue buttercream. Comfort food at it's finest.
Servings 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 can dulche de leche (boiled condensed milk) Any store bought caramel can be substituted if desired.

CARAMEL SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 300 grams salted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup dulche de leche or store bought caramel

Instructions

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake liners.
  • Put dates in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to cover dates. Simmer for 5 - 10 min or until soft. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, using a hand whisk, mix together eggs, oil, sour cream and vanilla bean paste.
  • Add cooled date mixture and stir carefully.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugars, bicarb soda, baking powder and spices.
  • Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mix. Whisk until well combined.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner until 2/3 full.
  • Bake in a moderate oven for 18 minutes, or until firm to touch.
  • When cool, use an apple corer to remove the centre of each cupcake. Put dulche de leche into an icing bag and pipe into cupcakes.Top with caramel buttercream.
  • Caramel swiss meringue buttercream.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, place egg whites and sugar. Put bowl over a medium saucepan filled with an inch of water, like a double boiler. Whisk mixture until well combined. Whisk every couple of minutes until sugar is fully dissolved. This may take up to ten minutes. Check by rubbing mixture between your fingers.
  • Place bowl onto stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on high for about five minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  • Reduce speed to low. Add butter two cubes at a time. Mixture will deflate, look soupy and possibly curdle. This is all normal. Keep mixing until it eventually comes together. This may take around ten minutes.
  • When the mixture has come together so it is silky smooth, add caramel and mix together for less than a minute, until combined. Pipe onto cupcakes.

Next weekend I am doing another Lennox market. Here’s hoping we don’t get rained out again. Custom cupcake orders are steadily rolling in and my little biz is benefitting from more exposure. My sweet little cuppies are spreading joy and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for taking the time to read my little blog and I hope some of you try this recipe. This is the perfect weather to pretend we live in the Northern hemisphere, rejoicing that  Winter is finally on it’s way and snow is coming! Ahh, if only.

Until next week, when I promise to try to bring you some reluctant Summer cupcake flavours.

Love Anna xx

Sticky Date Cupcakes


Spicy date cupcakes filled with dulche de leche caramel centre, topped with swirling caramel Swiss meringue buttercream. Comfort food at it's finest.
Servings 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 can dulche de leche (boiled condensed milk) Any store bought caramel can be substituted if desired.

CARAMEL SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 300 grams salted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup dulche de leche or store bought caramel

Instructions

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake liners.
  • Put dates in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to cover dates. Simmer for 5 - 10 min or until soft. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, using a hand whisk, mix together eggs, oil, sour cream and vanilla bean paste.
  • Add cooled date mixture and stir carefully.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugars, bicarb soda, baking powder and spices.
  • Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mix. Whisk until well combined.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner until 2/3 full.
  • Bake in a moderate oven for 18 minutes, or until firm to touch.
  • When cool, use an apple corer to remove the centre of each cupcake. Put dulche de leche into an icing bag and pipe into cupcakes.Top with caramel buttercream.
  • Caramel swiss meringue buttercream.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, place egg whites and sugar. Put bowl over a medium saucepan filled with an inch of water, like a double boiler. Whisk mixture until well combined. Whisk every couple of minutes until sugar is fully dissolved. This may take up to ten minutes. Check by rubbing mixture between your fingers.
  • Place bowl onto stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on high for about five minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  • Reduce speed to low. Add butter two cubes at a time. Mixture will deflate, look soupy and possibly curdle. This is all normal. Keep mixing until it eventually comes together. This may take around ten minutes.
  • When the mixture has come together so it is silky smooth, add caramel and mix together for less than a minute, until combined. Pipe onto cupcakes.

1 comment

  • Cate McGovern

    Love the arty display Anna. You are so creative, and that’s sporty!

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