We relish in a bubble of safety when we do things that are acceptable or common, but what’s so wrong with that? So many times we simply crave something safe, secure and, commonly indulgent. These have been very popular, or so I like to believe; they satisfy those inevitable cravings all we common people suffer. Because really, if you don’t crave such things in life, then you aren’t very common are you?
An irresistible chocolate cake makes the base for the comfort, and a rich layer of salted caramel frosting topped with sticky toffee popcorn and drizzles of sharp dark chocolate brings this baby home. During just the first completed comfort cupcake however my comfort cravings reached its peak and demanded satisfaction- needless to say I acquiesced. This isn’t a sickening cupcake, it’s a toe-curling cupcake, so darn good it’ll make you moan.
You see, comfort promises not just that safe, homely feeling but it insists on the feelings of contentment and in this case, it’s very much blushingly akin to sexual pleasures, or so I was told. I was surprised nevertheless that the cake was so moist, it seems to me that using cocoa instead of melted chocolate or milk in substitution of oil brings richness to this cake, or perhaps the complete synchronisation of the recipe? Either way, it is undeniably very moist and moreish!
Recipe + Method
For the Chocolate cupcake
60g of cocoa powder
1tbsp baking powder
180g plain flour, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
260g, caster sugar
For the salted caramel frosting
130g caster sugar
90ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
220g icing sugar, sifted
150g butter, at room temperature
Sea salt, to taste
For the sticky toffee popcorn
60g popping corn
60g salted butter (unsalted if you do not have salted on hand)
3tbsp golden syrup
60g light brown muscovado sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted
For the cupcakes, start by whisking together the butter and sugar until combined, and then gradually add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder- it will be rather dry; this is when you whisk together the milk and eggs in a a separate bowl and then pour into the crumbly mix and whisk this until it is smooth and fully combined. Then scoop them into the cupcake cases, about two thirds full. Place it to cook in a preheated oven at 160C (fan assisted) and cook for about 25 minutes, and once baked leave on a rack to cool.
For the frosting, start by heating the sugar with 4 ½tbsp of water on a medium heat and stir this until it begins to thicken and you can see a caramel colour taking effect. This process usually takes about 5+ minutes. Once it has reached its peak remove from the heat and pour in the cream and stir in the vanilla. This will be very hot so let it cool to tasting temperature and then add salt to taste- I added about a 1 ½tsp. Then leave this to cool completely. It will start to thicken and even harden slightly but the cream will stop it from setting. In a bowl, whisk together the butter and icing sugar until it is thick and creamy, then pour in the caramel and whisk away until smooth and combined.
For the sticky toffee popcorn (prepare a sheet of baking paper), start by heating a large pan with oil and add in the popping corn and cover, let this pop on low heat and ensure to leave it for a few minutes after the heat is turned off to allow all the corn to have popped. Whilst this is popping make the sticky toffee by throwing in the butter with the sugar and golden syrup and stirring this on a medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Then pour this over the popcorn still in the pan and stir until all the popcorn is coated equally and then tip this on the baking paper and separate the popcorn.
To assemble, get the cupcake and pipe on the salted caramel frosting (I used a simple round nozzle), if this isn’t your best skill then don’t worry because the popcorn will hide any flaws. Top the frosting with the sticky toffee popcorn in a sort of pyramid shape and coat with the melted chocolate. Best eaten straight after they are put together whilst the chocolate remains gooey, but also great the next day!