Originally posted 18/05/2013
I adore creme brulee so I leapt at the chance of transforming this silky, creamy dessert into a cupcake. However, after much Googling and continuously seeing the words ‘separate egg yolks’ and ‘blow torch’ I immediately decided they were too much effort. Because I’m lazy like that.
I then stumbled across an American recipe where the cupcakes were filled with vanilla flavour ‘pudding’ which sounded like minimal faff but, sadly, what the Americans refer to as ‘pudding’ (a kind of creamy dessert usually served in individual pots if I remember rightly from watching Scrubs…) is not widely available here in the UK. Luckily I discovered the perfect substitute in the form of vanilla flavour Alpro soya dessert! This can be bought as a pack of four individual pots from most major supermarkets and can usually be found among the gluten/dairy-free products (they’re also available in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and toffee which are all yummy too, just FYI). I decided to take the plunge and attempt some cooked sugar decorations for an authentically crisp but refreshingly blowtorch-free creme brulee-esque topping. Rounded off with a simple vanilla buttercream icing, these little beauties went down a treat, with many ‘ooh’s of admiration 🙂 And they’re so ridiculously easy to make!
You’ll only need to use a small amount of the soya dessert for the cakes but any that’s left over is delicious poured over sponge puddings, brownies, other warm desserts etc as a tasty alternative to custard (or of course you could just eat it straight out the pot if you haven’t fallen into a sugar coma brought on by sampling icing like me…)
INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10-12
For the cakes:
- 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
- 115g/4 oz caster/granulated sugar
- 115g/4 oz margarine/butter
- 2 eggs
- 0.5 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling/icing/sugar decorations:
- 12 tsp (approx.) vanilla flavour Alpro soya dessert
- 225g/8 oz icing sugar
- 115g/4 oz butter (unsalted if preferred)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 55g/2 oz caster sugar
For the cakes:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cake cases.
- Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
- Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract until batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
- Drop the mixture into the paper cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
- Pop in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
- When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.
For the filling, icing & sugar decorations:
- When they have cooled, use a teaspoon or small sharp knife to carefully cut out a hole (about 2cm in diameter and 1.5cm in depth) in the top of each cupcake, being careful not to cut too deep into the sponge. Don’t discard the sponge bits you’ve cut out!
- Put about a teaspoon of the vanilla soya dessert into each hole and gently push the sponge part that was cut out back into each one.
- Add the caster sugar to a small pan over LOW heat until it has turned brown and melted to a thick, sticky consistency – DO NOT STIR! Be patient and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process as it will burn horribly, trust me!
- When all the granules have disappeared, scoop the melted sugar out of the pan using a spatula and spread onto baking parchment or the opened-out clean inside of a cereal packet (sounds odd but works really well for this kind of thing, and it’s always good to recycle!) Do this quickly as the sugar will begin to set rapidly.
- While you’re waiting for the sugar to cool and set, place the butter and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk while gradually adding the icing sugar until a thick, fluffy mixture has formed.
- Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice attached (I used a large circle one) and squeeze onto the top of each cake, or simply spread the icing on using a palette knife.
- Break up your sheet of cooked sugar into randomly sized shards and place some on top of each cake just before serving. Any leftover shards can be stored in an airtight container for about a week or so.