Why not fill cupcakes, while you’re at it? Somehow I can’t resist punching a hole into the golden surface of the sponge, in order to add just a little extra – marmalade, chocolates, whisky-infused oats, you name it. Perhaps all those piñatas have gone to my head a little, but when it came to making some adult-compatible cakes for our combined 4th-birthday fiesta, some sort of surprise filling seemed on order.
I can’t get enough of the unusual mix of flavours and textures of South American cakes: the mix of sweet cream, slightly crunchy meringue, juicy fruit and insanely sweet dulce de leche are my idea of heaven! Just as our piñata birthday cake only revealed its sweet contents at second glance, those little cupcakes seemed pretty harmless at first glance:
Needless to say, the devil’s in the filling. As for the frosting, I’ve made amends again by using Suzanne’s ingenious whipped cream frosting instead of the usual butter-and-sugar mix. Not ‘healthy’, perhaps, but at least a less unhealthy option, I’d argue!
If you have enjoyed my children’s version – using wholegrain flour, just to be on the safe side – the recipe for the bases and the frosting is almost identical. Feel free to use wholegrain flour for a more earthy taste, but adapt the quantities of the liquid ingredients to get the right consistency. As for the dulce de leche, I simply cannot understand why this South American caramel sauce is not much more popular here in the UK. No worries if you can’t get hold of it – I’ll be posting the recipe soon!
Strawberry and Dulce de Leche-filled Cupcakes (makes 12)
For the cupcakes:
- 120g plain flour
- 110g caster sugar
- 2 tbs vanilla sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 120ml milk
- 1 egg
For the filling:
- a small punnet (ca. 200g) of strawberries, cut into quarters, or raspberries, sliced apricots etc.
- 40g meringues, crushed
- 40g or 6 tsp dulce de leche (South American caramel spread) or similar
For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
- 300ml / 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
- 1/8 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F and line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder, butter and salt until you get an even consistency. Add half the milk, beating the mix to distribute it evenly.
Using a fork, beat the egg with the remaining milk before adding it to the mix. Keep beating until you get a smooth mixture.
You’ll need to get the whipped cream frosting started the moment you are putting the cupcakes into the oven as the cornstarch mix needs to cool down before you can whip the cream. Begin by placing a metal bowl and a balloon whisk or wire beater in the freezer to chill.
In a small pan mix the icing sugar and the cornstarch, then whisk in 1/4 cup of the whipping cream until smooth. Place it on medium heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens and almost comes to a boil. Remove it from the heat and ideally transfer the mix to a bowl, which will help it to cool down a bit quicker. Set aside, stirring occasionally until it reaches room temperature. Don’t attempt to use it until it is completely cool.
Once the cupcakes have cooled down, hollow them out with an apple corer or similar, then stuff them with strawberry pieces, the crushed meringue and finally a generous dollop of dulce de leche.
Using the chilled bowl, start beating the remaining cream using the chilled whisk. You can use an electric whisk until the cream starts to hold its shape, but I’d switch to manual once you start adding the cornstarch and sugar mix, a little at a time. You want to avoid ovebeating the cream! Keep adding the mix until you get to the right consistency: spreadable, almost like cream frosting.Spread or pipe the whipped cream on top of your cupcakes and decorate them using the remaining strawberries and meringue. Keep the decorated cupcakes in the fridge until you need them – and don’t worry: the frosting will hold its shape unless it gets eaten!
Enjoy the fruity surprise! I’ll be bringing these along to Angie’s Fiesta Friday party – this week, she is being supported by co-hosts Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash. I hope these little party treats will go down, well, a treat!