As the winter nights draw in, I find myself seeking comforting recipes that fill the house with beautiful spicy aromas. Making our house feel all homely and welcoming. Like a big, soft blanket to snuggle into. On these shorter autumn days, the spiced cup cakes are lovely to come home to after an invigorating walk outdoors. Great for little hands, but also for us adults to have with a big mug of steaming tea.
The great thing about these cup cakes is that they’re made with more wholesome ingredients like wholemeal flour, sunflower oil and maple syrup make which still make for comforting treats but are a little healthier. So as indulgent as they may taste, they are definitely kinder on the waistline while still giving you that comfort food fulfilment. I love the texture and flavour that the salted caramel in this recipe adds to the cup cakes, but this ingredient can easily be left out if you are wanting a lighter cup cake.
225g organic wholemeal plain flour
113g brown sugar
1tsp ground ginger
1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
65g maple syrup
120ml sunflower oil
1 organic egg, beaten
120ml organic semi-skimmed milk
1 apple, grated
Zest of 1 clementine
Makes about 12 cup cakes
Cream cheese frosting:
275g icing sugar
50g organic butter, room temperature
125g full fat cream cheese, chilled
200g granulated sugar
90g butter, small pieces
120ml double cream
½ tsp high quality salt
Preheat the oven to 180deg C, Gas Mark 4
Sieve the flour, cinnamon, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the sugar.
In a second bowl combine the wet ingredients: maple syrup, oil, egg, milk. Grated apple and clementine zest.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir until just combined – you don’t want to over beat this mixture as it will make heavy cup cakes.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cup cake cases and transfer into the preheated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through.
Allow the cup cakes to cool completely.
For the salted caramel, heat the sugar in a medium heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon. The sugar will form clumps but will eventually melt into a thick amber liquid. Don’t allow the sugar to burn so once it starts to colour, immediately start to add the butter. Be careful as the mixture will bubble up so add the butter slowly and steadily, while stirring the whole time.
Now slowly pour in the cream. This time the mixture will boil even more rapidly, so take care. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. Then remove from the heat and stir in the salt.
Allow to cool before using. The caramel sauce can be poured into a sterilised jar and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Whilst everything is cooling, beat together the icing sugar and butter. Then add the cream cheese and beat briefly. You should have a light and creamy texture.
Before piping, cut out the centres of the cup cakes to leave a small hole and fill with a teaspoon of salted caramel. Then pipe a swirl of cream cheese frosting on top of each cup cake. These are best eaten on the same day. If you wish to prepare in advance, store the cream cheese frosting in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Enjoy x