Roll up! Roll up! The circus is in town.
My dearest friend, Isis, celebrated her birthday with her sister last weekend. With her obsession with pastel, the theme that she has set for the party was pastel vintage circus. Dressing up for a vintage circus was hard enough as it is, adding a pastel colour scheme on top of that made it somewhat more challenging! But hey, if that’s what the birthday girl wants, then that’s what the birthday girl gets.
Pastel bunting adorn the room with a circle of plush cushions for each guest as we sit around gossiping and pigging out on treats from the dessert table.
I get a call from Isis a couple of days before, asking if I could bake something for her. Why of course! There was no moment of hesitation what-so-ever.
Ideas start racing through my mind on what to bake. I could make rice bubble marshmallow (LCM) bars. Or a pastel rainbow cake. Or… But keeping with the circus theme I decided for something involving popcorn. Which soon left me thinking of caramel (because we all know that those two go hand-in-hand together). I stumbled upon a recipe by Xiaolu of 6 Bittersweets and knew I had to make it. Caramel popcorn cupcakes. Enough said!
And for those who follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this picture that I had posted. I went ahead to make the LCM bars, thinking it was going to be just a matter of melting down some marshmallow, adding rice bubbles to it and allowing it to set before cutting it up. Instead, it was an extremely messy effort. Perhaps I should have looked at this recipe beforehand. The key is to add butter as well! Who would’ve thought! Now moving along…
What was interesting about these cupcakes was that there was creamed sweet corn puree in the batter. I was extremely curious as to how this would taste in a cupcake; it turned out moist but made the cupcake a little dense and I couldn’t really pinpoint the corn taste though. Originally the recipe called for corn meal, which is suppose to add a crunchy texture to the cupcakes but I didn’t have any on hand so I increased the flour content instead. Also, I initially was going to make a swiss meringue buttercream but I’d stuffed that up as I had the heat up too high when I was whisking the egg whites with the sugar so I think they must have curdled. Whoops! So I resorted to make a simple buttercream with caramel, butter and icing sugar and liberally piling that onto the cupcake.
Adapted from 6 Bittersweets
Makes 12-15 cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (120g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
400g can of creamed corn, pureed
Caramel buttercream (recipe below)
Caramel popcorn, to garnish (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- Cream butter and brown sugar on medium high until fluffy. Add vanilla then eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated after each addition. Reduce speed to low.
- Add 1/2 flour mixture and 1/2 creamed corn puree and beat until just combined after each addition. Repeat for remaining ingredients.
- Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool in pan for 1 minute, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. (Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers).
- Pipe/Spread caramel buttercream on top each cupcake.
- Top with pieces of caramel popcorn before serving.
Adapted from a recipe by A Table For Two
Makes 1/2 cup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup thickened cream
25g butter, cubed
1/4 icing sugar, sifted
200g unsalted butter, softened
- Dissolve water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Turn up the heat and let it boil for 5 minutes, without stirring, until sugar starts to colour.
- When it reaches a golden colour, carefully pour the cream into the sugar and keep stirring. (The sugar may seize and clump together but keep stirring to dissolve it again).
- Remove from heat and whisk in the 25g of butter into the caramel, a bit at a time.
- Set aside to cool.
- Cream the remaining butter with icing sugar until fluffy.
- Add the cooled caramel and beat until well combined.
Recipe from Taste
Makes 7 cups
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add corn kernels and cover with a tight-fitting lid. When corn starts popping, shake saucepan gently. Remove from heat when corn stops popping. Transfer to a large bowl, discarding any unpopped corn.
- Combine butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Bring mixture to the boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes or until light golden. Remove from heat.
- Line baking tray with baking paper.
- Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir until popcorn is coated. Spread popcorn over baking tray and set aside to cool.
- Break into pieces.