These cupcakes were part of a Charity Bake to benefit Chalk Farm Hotel and Garden Centre who are a Centre for adults with learning disabilities. Their ultimate aim of the Centre is to help students to increase their independent living skills as well as their ability to enter the real job market. If you live in or near Eastbourne and you are looking for a charming hotel in wonderful surroundings or you need somewhere for a wedding or party do have a look at this place.
The cupcakes were easy and great fun to do.
For the Cupcakes
- 200g-pitted dates, chopped
- 175ml of boiling water
- 90g unsalted butter, softened
- 90g light muscovado sugar
- 50g dark muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 100ml whole milk
For the Frosting
- 85g unsalted butter, softened
- 125g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp caramel sauce
- ¼ tsp caramel essence
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the Decorations
- 50g granulated sugar
- Liquid red food colouring
- Red Smarties
- 20g dark chocolate
- 450g royal icing (see Basics)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake liners.
- Place the chopped dates into a heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes then use a hand blender to liquidise and set aside.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, a little at a time with 1 tbsp of the flour and beat well after each addition until incorporated.
- Fold in the remaining flour, bicarb, dates and milk.
- Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until well risen and the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 2 minutes before removing the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
- While the cakes are cooling make the toffee buttercream.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, whisk together the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the caramel sauce, caramel essence, vanilla extract and salt.
- Spread the buttercream over the top of the cakes.
- To decorate, mix the sugar with a little red food colouring and sprinkle over the top to make the hats.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave bowl or suspended over a bowl of simmering water.
- Spoon the chocolate into a food bag and snip of a small corner. Pipe on small dots of chocolate for the eyes.
- Place a red Smartie into the centre for a nose.
- Using a piping bag with a small star shaped nozzle attached, pipe pompoms onto the hats.
- Pipe fur trims under the hats, moustaches under the noses and finish with piping the beards.