A little while back I agreed to participate in an ingredient swap, initiated by Ruth over at Makey Cakey, to distract her from her impending 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Ruth! (Just quietly, I'm turning 30 on Friday and I'm a little freaked out about it too, and plan on distracting myself by spending a lot of the day baking and decorating an awesome (hopefully!) birthday cake for my party on Saturday night...)
I was paired with Ruth's husband Jono, who posts four-ingredient recipes on Tumblr. Pretty good idea, those four recipe things, because let's face it - you're far more likely to try something new if you don't have to climb a mountain in the French Pyrenees and pluck a feather from the first-born chick of the incredibly rare and exotic Mystery Fabulous Bird to stir your cake batter with. By which I mean, if the ingredient ain't in my cupboard or am not likely to use it again, then chances are I won't cook it!
Being from Scotland, the ingredients that Jono sent me were some 10-year-old Scotch, and some Scottish Tablet. Scotch doesn't need much of a preamble (although perhaps I should apologise to Jono for wasting it on cup cakes), but Scottish Tablet is kind of like... hmm... a dry, crumbly, rich fudge, would probably be the best way of describing it. I Googled it and basically you can make your own by boiling condensed milk (which contains sugar) with butter and - wait for it - more sugar. It comes as no surprise to me at all that it comes in very small packets! A little bit goes a long, long way.
I decided to bake something "inspired by" the Tablet, rather than just cooking with it. And then I decided that what I made tasted kind of crap, so I decorated it with some crumbled up Tablet and it became 90,475,178,394,156,128.99465^784 (a prize will be awarded to the first person who can actually tell me in writing what that number is!) times more palatable.
This meant that I was going to base my cup cake recipe on the concept of condensed milk, sugar and butter. I wanted it to be golden in colour so I tried to caramelise the condensed milk, which didn't go so well - I mainly kept getting distracted and burning it, but it did thicken... which probably wasn't a good thing for the cup cake texture, in the end. I also added brown sugar because it wasn't brown enough or sweet enough or really tasted like anything at all. Boo.
I also had a moment of insipiration whilst I was "browning" the condensed milk - when you make Anzac Biscuits, you melt your butter with golden syrup and then add half a teaspoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of boiling water to cause a fizzy reaction, then you dump it in with the melted butter/syrup and it goes crazy and grows in size by at least three or four times. So I wanted that to be the raising agent... only it didn't fizz out like it was supposed to. Perhaps the baking soda was past its prime - who knows. But because that didn't really work I added a teaspoon of baking powder to the flour, just in cases. At the very least the baking soda would make the cup cakes brown more.
After all that, it's not suprising my recipe was kind of crap because I totally winged it, no recipe book in sight, and had to keep adding ingredients to make it "look right"! But hey, I had fun trying. And they're not that bad, but they could use a lot of improvement. For one, I would cook them for less time. But they did rise!
SCOTTISH TABLET CUPCAKES:
1/2c sweetened condensed milk (turns out this equates to half a can of the Carnation stuff)
1tsp baking soda
1tbsp boiling water
1 1/2c plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4c brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2c milk (or was it 1/4c? Again, very much a case of judging the texture of your batter. How about you start with 1/4c and go from there!)
Stir condensed milk over low heat until it goes a bit golden (this didn't happen quite like I had hoped - most of the golden colour came from when I walked away for half a second and it caught on the bottom!). Remove from heat and add room-temperature chopped butter; stir it in quickly to melt it and stop the condensed milk from seizing.
Meanwhile, boil kettle. Mix 1tsp baking soda with 1tbsp boiling water in a mug or similar, mix quickly and tip into the condensed milk/butter mix (I'm wondering now whether it reacts with the sugar in Anzacs, and because there was only the sugar from the condensed milk present it may not have been enough?? Nah, I'd say the baking soda was past its prime). Stir around quickly, hope it froths and become disappointed when it doesn't.
Before this you should have put your flour in a large mixing bowl! And at this point you would also have dumped a quick teaspoon of baking powder in because you've realised your cup cakes won't rise without it.
Add condensed milk mixture to flour and stir quite vigorously until blended. Add 1/4c brown sugar and mix in. Add one egg at a time, mixing between each addition, then the whisky, and the milk - start with 1/4c then work your way up.
Divide into (10-ish) cup cake liners and bake at 170oC for... shoot. I think it was a total of around 20 minutes, or, at least, it should have been around that! Check it at about the 18 minute mark and if they're still sloppy like mine were, put them in for another five minutes and check again. Watch them carefully - I made the mistake of thinking that a wet skewer meant it was waaaay undercooked when I think it could have done with being a little undercooked rather than overcooked. Live and learn. Plus I think I cooked mine for an extra ten or so minutes after the 18 minute mark so don't be me!
When they spring back I guess they're done... cool on a rack. I covered mine with a tea towel while I cooled them to arrest the drying-out of cooling cupcakes. I think I realised just in time!
Verdict: Dense, a little boring and a little dry. Adjust baking times and consider adding more milk. Or less flour. Or more sugar. Or cooking for less time. Or something. One thing I will say, though, is that they leave quite a pleasant, silky-smooth sensation in your mouth. Like, you know how gluten free stuff leaves a "squeaky" feeling? This is kind of the opposite.
Cream around 125g butter with 1/4c densely packed brown sugar until well mixed. Gradually add 1c icing sugar with the mixer running. Scrape bowl down. Start mixing again. Add 1tbsp or so of whisky and mix. The icing will be a little on the wet side. I added a total of 1/2c more icing sugar, 1/4c at a time, until it reached the right consistency. It smells and tastes very strongly of whisky so you don't need to pile it up too high on the cupcakes. A dessert spoon-full or so should do; apply it and swirl around with the back of the spoon.
Chop up some Tablet and decorate the tops of the cupcakes with it. The sweetness will balance the harsh whiskey flavour; the cupcakes themselves are a little on the boring side so they barely factor into the overall impact!
I imagine this recipe is one that could be improved quite easily but I wanted to get it posted in time for the challenge. I also went as Scottish as I could with the cup cake wrapper - do you like it?
I posted Jono some ingredients that were kind of Australian (although we're such a hotch-potch of cultures and have had many influxes of the English, Scottish and Irish (as well as other cultures in more recent years) that it's quite difficult to come up with a quintessentially Australian baking ingredient that isn't originally British!). I went with macadamias - because they are endemic to Australia, no matter what the Hawai'ians say!; ginger - because apparently some of the best ginger in the world is Buderim ginger from Queensland (but that's probably a rumour started by the Buderim ginger company!); and some Manuka honey - honey from a tree native to Australia (and NZ), which apparently has magical healing properties. I can't wait to see what he has made!