Sunday, February 20, 2011

I ♥ cake - Caramel cupcakes with butterscotch frosting

Those of you who grew up in France will have recognised the unmistakeable wrapper at first glance... Carambar are a bit of a playground institution in France, they have been around forever (since 1954, specifically) and even if the packaging has been slightly refreshed over time, the glowing yellow and red stripes are still there... Over the years, they have been declined in a variety of heretic flavours (like various fruits or even cola) but in our hearts only the original caramel flavour has a place. Sold by the piece in candy stores all around Froggieland (and in king-size packs in supermarkets), they still make the delights of little ones and full grown-ups alike - even though they are now made by the American food giant Kraft, they are a part of popular traditions of this country which I hope will last long. Since the late 60s, the inner side of the wrapping paper contains jokes that are so appallingly bad that in colloquial French, a "Carambar joke" has become a synonym for any cheesy, not-so-funny pun out there. There even is an entry on about this object of (not so infantile) passions, where one can learn that if inflation had affected the size of the Carambar the same way it affected its price since launch, the sweet would measure a measly 80 cm today - Pimp dat snack I say!! :o)

And once you will have tasted one, you will agree with me that they actually taste like a pretty fine piece of caramel - not bad for a cheap candy... Their buttery vanilla-cocoa aroma surges over a wave of deep, blond caramel. Gastronomic? Maybe not, but delish, certainly. Everytime it's a trip down memory lane, and that surely does make them taste ever so slightly better...

Carambar, 20 of them, melted in milk and butter - the base for the cake batter.

A few months ago, a friend mentioned to me the recipe of a carambar cake, which obviously got my full attention. He was kind enough to source the recipe for me, and I had been itching to try it. One teeny tiny hiccup: carambar are impossible to find outside of France it seems, and I had to bribe another friend with the promise of a cake for him to buy me a few packs during a trip to Paris. These minor technical difficulties resolved, I had to find a suitable topping for my cuppies, and adapted the frosting below from Annie's excellent blog. The texture of the cake came out as a pleasant surprise, as it was a lot lighter than the use of commercially made sweets would have left to expect.

A big thank you to Jamel and his friend Amelie for sharing the cupcake recipe, to Nicolas for buying me a truckload of carambar, and to Peech for smuggling in the rum.

Carambar cupcakes, cooling down on a rack

Butterscotch frosting, stage 1 - making a deep, creamy brown caramel...

Butterscotch frosting, stage 2 - cooling down the caramel before adding the butter.

Caramel cupcakes with butterscotch frosting - ready to be devoured... these are actually quite sweet and buttery, so I would recommend an espresso or black tea on the side to cut down the sweetness and clean the palate.

Rhum Negrita - the perfect aroma for everything from chocolate truffles to crepes and cakes.

Caramel cupcakes with butterscotch frosting (for approx. 18 cupcakes or 1 8-inch rectangular cake)

3 eggs
160gr caster sugar
150gr cake flour (not the self-rising type), sifted
1.5 tsp baking powder
150gr butter
20 Carambar (or about 160gr home-made butter caramel fudge)
10cl milk
1 tbsp dark aged rum
pinch of salt

225gr unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut in 2cm cubes
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tbsp black treacle
¾ cup mascarpone
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp dark aged rum
1 to 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

·       Preheat the oven at 180°C.
·       Generously brush a rectangular 8-inch cake pan with melted butter and place in the fridge – or line 3 6x2 muffin trays with paper cups;
·       In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder;
·       In a saucepan over low heat, melt the Carambar in the milk and butter, stirring constantly. Add the rum;
·       Remove from the heat, and keep stirring until the mixture becomes lukewarm;
·       Add to the flour/mixture in thirds, alternating with the eggs (start with 1 egg);
·       Bake 30 to 40mn (cake) or 17 to 20mn (cupcakes).

·       Make the frosting: melt about 50gr of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it turns deep golden brown and fragrant, about 6-9 minutes.
·       Add the sugar, mascarpone, black treacle and salt, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
·       Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling, stirring constantly, for 5 more minutes.
·       Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture becomes lukewarm.
·       Add the rum.
·       With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining butter a couple of cubes at a time, until each addition has been incorporated. Continue beating until smooth and creamy.
·       Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar.
·       Cover the bowl and reserve in the fridge for about 30 to 45mn, or until the frosting reaches piping consistency.

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, now that is one delicious looking cupcake. You've definitely got me craving them. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your cupcakes up.