Monday 7 May 2012

Sticky Date & Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Homemade Dulce de Leche

He has fallen from the donkey, but has found a date ~ Iranian Proverb

Like the man who finds a date on the ground (2 minute rule right?) I also completely subscribe to silver linings.

Take this weekend for instance.  I was up in Auckland briefly to visit my husband.  The weather was gorgeous: sunny and warm, we had all these grand plans of doing lots of exciting things and eating yummy food but alas, I ended up with the nasty head cold making its rounds in Dunedin and spent most of the weekend in bed with a box of tissues.

The silver lining however was having my darling husband and his family look after me and keep me all snuggley and warm and topped up with paracetamol and decongestants.  Sooooo much nicer being sick when surrounded by loved ones than alone in freezing Dunedin and having to walk to the pharmacy for meds.   I'm beginning to see why men are tempted to pull out the man flu.

The recipe in this post however, has nothing to do with colds or donkeys, but everything to do with dates.  Dates and Dulce de Leche to be precise with these Sticky Date & Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Homemade Dulce de Leche which I made as part of my cupcake renaissance.  

Now I know I tend to gush about things I like but seriously, these cupcakes are spectacular.

They are quite simply, amazingness in a cupcake.

So good I'd put them up there as my favourite equal cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes.  Huge call, I know but there was something rather magical about the fluffy caramelly sticky date cupcake combined with the creamy toffeeness of the frosting.  Droooooooooool.

Sticky date pudding or "sticky toffee pudding" as it is known traditionally, is said to have been invented in the North-West of England at the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in 1960 allegedly inspired by a recipe from a farm wife in Lancashire.  Nowadays it's a firm favourite on the menus of pubs and schmancy restaurants alike and voted one of the UK's top ten favourite dessert.

The secret to a good sticky date pudding is balancing the sweet dates in that moist spongey pudding with the salted butterscotch creaminess of the sauce. 

Needless to say, sticky date with butterscotch sauce is my favourite pud and one I make regularly for those frosty winter nights.  But a good pud does not a good cupcake make. While the pudding translated nicely to a cupcake, it's getting that combo of sweet, salty, and creamy butterscotch sauce to translate to a frosting that's the hard part.

I've had success with a butterscotch swiss meringue buttercream for a Sticky Date Cake which was silky smooth and gorgeous to work with but SMBCs are notoriously fiddly to get together and you really need to have a stand mixer to make it.  So following the success of the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting I made recently, I had a brain wave of combining homemade dulce de leche with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting.   You heard right, dulce de leche + brown sugar cream cheese could this not be delicious right?  And it was.  Oh yes, it was.

{pretty little domes}

The dulce de leche is super easy to make at home from cans of condensed milk but if you are in a bind or can't be bothered, you can buy the already made cans of caramel from the supermarket.  Of course, the homemade stuff is much yummier (way more caramelly than the pre made stuff) so if you do have time on your hands, go and make a couple of cans to keep in your pantry for these cupcakes or just to eat it with a spoon.  You can thank me later.

Sticky Date and Dulce de Leche Cupcakes.

Sticky Date Cupcakes

makes 24 - 28 cupcakes

Adapted from a Jo Seagar recipe

2 1/2 cups pitted dried dates, chopped roughly
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 tsp baking soda
120g unsalted butter, softened chopped into cubes
1 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 180oC or (150oC fan bake).  Line two 12 cup muffin tins with baking cups.   Place chopped dates in bowl.  Pour over boiling water then add baking soda.  The baking soda will start fizzing.  Mix together and leave for 5 mins.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In the meantime, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

3. In a food processor or with a hand held stick blender, blend the date mixture until liquid.

4.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat till just combined.  Then add 1/2 of the date mixture to the butter mix and beat till just combined.  Add 1/3 of the flour mix, beat.  Then 1/2 date mixture, beat.   Add the last of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

5. Scoop the cake batter into the baking cups to around 3/4 full.  Bake for 18-20 mins at 180oC until a skewer in the middle comes out clean.  Take cupcakes out of the muffin tins immediately to cool on a wire rack.  Make sure cupcakes are totally cooled before frosting.

Homemade Dulce de Leche
(NB: if you're short on time you can always use the ready made cans of caramel condensed milk from supermarket)
unopened 380g cans of sweetened condensed milk
large pot of water

1. Put cans in water making sure the cans are completely covered in water.  Bring to the boil and boil for 3 hours making sure cans completely covered with water at all times otherwise they will explode!

2. Allow to cool completely in water before using.

Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Frosting
250g cream cheese ***make sure you use full fat cream cheese and not spreadable or low fat. I recommend using Philadelphia brand, have had some bad batches with other brands!***
120g unsalted butter, softened
1 x 380g can dulce de leche (or you can use the ready made cans of caramel condensed milk from the supermarket)
1 cup soft brown sugar, packed 
2 Tablespoons corn flour
1/4 tsp salt (to 1/2 tsp sea salt), adjust to taste

1. Mix the corn flour, salt and brown sugar and run your fingers through squeezing out as many lumps as you can. 

2. In a food processor, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar mixture and beat well. Add dulce de leche and beat to mix in. Then add cream cheese and beat till just incorporated.   (***EDIT: Be careful to only beat until just incorporated coz the icing can go gooey if its overeaten.***).  Scrap down the sides of your bowl to make sure the cream cheese and butter are mixed through. (NB: I found this frosting can get a tiny bit on the oozy side but it still piped well and more importantly tasted perfect but if you want it stiffer, try putting the mixture into the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.)

3. Using a piping bag (or just zip lock bag with corner cut off) to pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.   


  1. These look so yummy!! Definitely next on my list to try :)

  2. Dates are not something I grew up having around. They are almost exotic to me, but when I started making sticky toffee pudding last year (also 'exotic' in my neck of the woods), I fell in love. I bet these cupcakes are every bit as good as you say they are.
    I am glad you got to be sick around the people who care about you. Being alone and sick just makes me stubborn and pouty. ;)

  3. Might have to increase the couple-of-times-a-week plates and power yoga to a daily thing. Cupcakes like these are begging to be made and more importantly eaten! Just have to pay penance for it is all. :-)

  4. these look positively delicious. I love the flavor combination. I've never made dulce de leche. That delicious frosting has inspired me to try.

  5. This a really charming blog, i'm from England and i 've just literally stumbled upon it. You describe things beautifully, the photos are great and the food looks and sounds delicious! Well done and keep up the great work Nessie!

  6. Well they sound and look seriously amazing too - what a combination, yum!

  7. I will always remember the day I discovered dulce de leche. It's heavenly! These cupcakes look like a fitting homage, too! Gorgeous!

  8. Love this recipe just came first equal in a bake off with it. Changed the icing by making a caramel sauce out of the condensed milk and beating with butter, cream cheese and icing sugar and topped with drizzled toffee. The cupcakes were superb, can't wait to make them again as dates are my favourite.
    Thanks so much, love the blog :)

  9. These look incredible!! I have definitely experienced the exploding tin of condensed milk before....lesson learnt there!

  10. Hey Nessie. I made these tonight for a farewell for one of our nurses tomorrow night. I found the mix to be very liquid so the cupcakes are very soft (for want of a better word). Is this normal? I'm hoping the icing will complement the cupcakes as I expectedthemto be more firm than they are....or have I done something wrong? They do taste good though

  11. Ginger. Love. Care.: Naw thanks heaps!! Hope you like them!! Super glad to spread the love :)

    Kita: Hello Kita! Even though I grew up with dates around I still reckon they are pretty exotic too! Just makes me think of a desert oasis :) Sticky toffee is my fav! These cupcakes totally rocked my world and I really hope others like them too!! xox

    Shirleen @ Sugar and Spice: I too measure my baked treats in number of sit ups!!! :P These are definitely worth the pain!

    Lora: Thanks heaps lovely Lora!!! Dulce de leche is amazing! I couldn't believe caramelly goodness would be so easy to make!

    Michaela: Aww that is so lovely of you thanks so much for your comment! I whole hearted love these cupcakes and love that others like the look of them too! Thanks so much for stopping by :)

    Lesley: Thanks heaps Lesley! You really can't go wrong with dates and caramel huh? :)

    Jen @ Jens Favourite Cookies: I remember the day I first tried it too! That stuff is dangerously good no? :P

    Anonymous: Oh wow that is so AWESOME!!! I've never won a bake off before so am totally going to live vicariously through you!!!!! Massive congrats and super super stoked they worked out for ya!! OMG how scary!!! What happens when it does explode? I've only heard about it like a children's fairy tale you know??? It freaks me out every time I make the stuff!!!

    Megan: Hiya Megan! From memory the batter is on the runny side but it should bake up to a nice spongey texture when done and not be gooey at all. They are really tender and light (not dense). Check they're done with a toothpick, if it comes out sticky bake for another 2 mins. If they're not done and getting a bit brown, cover with a big bit of tin foil. The frosting is seriously good - make sure the cream cheese and butter is room temp and try not to over mix the cream cheese as it can go really oozy. The frosting is a bit oozier than say a butter cream (but I always add the very minimum icing sugar so it's not too sweet). Just keep tasting until you're happy with it. Sorry for the massive rant!! Hope it helps a little??? Good luck!!! :)

  12. I really liked your recipe on dulce de leche..never tried making them at home. This sounds so easy. Amazing cupcakes....loving it:)

    1. Thanks heaps Nina! It's super easy and so delicious....rather a dangerous combo :P

  13. Hello! I made these yesterday and the icing was a total failure... tasted amazing, but not at all pipable. I tried beating in icing sugar and balancing with salt, but it made no difference. Lucky they still taste delicious :)

    1. Oh no Alex, so sorry to hear that it didn't work out!! Hmm am having a think, did you happen to use full fat or low fat cream cheese? Also did you beat the cream cheese for a long time? If cream cheese is overeaten the proteins loose their structure and it becomes liquid and un-pipeable? I'll make the edits to the recipe. Thanks heaps for letting me know!

  14. these look ridiculous. Can't wait to try them. what a great recipe, thanks for sharing.

  15. Thank you SO much for adapting a toffee cupcake recipe to U.S. measurements. I have been searching everywhere for one of these!!



Copyright © 2010-2013 by Nessie Chan/Nessie Sharpe. All rights reserved.

Related Posts with Thumbnails