I was introduced to the wonder of dulce de leche…. when was it? A few years ago, while travelling in South America. The specifics of time and location pale in comparison to my memory of my first experience of this sweet, creamy, melting caramel. Man, it’s delicious.

For the past year, I’ve been baking whenever someone on my training course celebrates their birthday. One of the ladies is a Columbiana, and so the question of what to make became blindingly obvious. Unfortunately, the recipe I based these on wildly underestimated the amount of icing sugar required to get piping consistency, so the presentation isn’t quite there. Fortunately, I have a second batch biding its time in my freezer, so hopefully I’ll have some more beautiful pictures to post in a few weeks.

You will need:

Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling (if making dulce de leche, you will need a tin of condensed -NOT evaporated- milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 6 cups icing sugar
  • A little rock salt, for sprinkling

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180deg C
  2. Line 2 12-hole muffin pans with paper liners
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and pale brown (about 3 minutes).
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition.
  6. Beat in vanilla extract.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture.
  8. Slowly add the buttermilk. Beat until just incorporated.
  9. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated.  Try not to over mix. The mixture will be very thick.
  10. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full.
  11. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  12. Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cupcakes must be completely cooled before frosting.

If you want to make your own dulce de leche, the easiest way is to boil unopened tins of condensed milk. Apparently there is a risk of the tins exploding, so you must ensure that they are completely submerged throughout. I boiled two tins for about three hours and ended up with this

Half an hour less would have been fine, but this was still more than usable and delicious. In some supermarkets, you can buy pre-boiled tins, which I would recommend. Saves time, gas and stress.

For the frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese with a hand mixer for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable
  2. Add the butter and dulce de leche.  Beat until well incorporated.
  3. Add the salt and icing sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color. I would start with 3 cups and keep adding half a cup at a time until frosting is piping consistency.
  4. Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting. I think it would be a good idea to marble some dulce de leche into the piping bag with the frosting like so. Mine didn’t quite work as I ran out of icing sugar before my frosting was ready.
  5. Alternarively, heat a few spoonfuls of dulce de leche of a low flame until just pourable. Drizzled over the cupcakes.
  6. Add a few sprinkles of fine sea salt

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