Monday, 16 July 2012

Scottish Tablet Cup Cakes with Whisky Icing - A Makey-Cakey Birthday Surprise Ingredient Swap

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)
100g-ish butter
1tsp baking soda
1tbsp boiling water
1tsp whisky
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.

WHISKY ICING:
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!

Update: Jono posted his recipe - chocolate macadamia cupcakes (only four ingredients!!!) - here, and Ruth posted a recipe roundup here.

23 comments:

  1. I love tablet - I used to work with a guy whose mum was Scottish, and also would kindly make sweets for his colleagues!

    I do like the idea of a less sweet icing (with the whiskey) paired with sweet tablet. Juxtaposition is good :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juxtaposition = juxtadelicious! I'm slowly learning that less is more when it comes to sweet things, and that balancing flavours enhances the experience instead of making you feel sick!

      Delete
  2. Those cupcakes sound very tempting indeed. Usually, I think of cupcakes as light and fluffy things, but now I'm intrigued by the idea of making them more dense and caramelised. The whiskey is a bit of a bonus on top of that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made Chocolate Heartache Cake recently in cupcake form, and have never eaten a denser or more delicious cup cake. You're right, they're usually light and fluffy and pretty, but they do have a darker side ;)

      Delete
  3. Yummy scottish cupcakes. I loved these dense and filling cupcakes and loved the fact that you added condensed milk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In theory you would think that being a dense cupcake meant that I hadn't eaten more than one in one sitting, but many theories are flawed ;)

      Delete
  4. Wow - these look brilliant... I wish I could taste one! Well done for using the ingredients so well. I'll be doing my baking later in the week - I'm hoping to continue the 4 ingredient thing so it might be a bit of a challenge! Hope that you have a fab birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Four ingredient cupcakes as promised... and the best bit is that I'll get some other recipes out of the amazing ingredients that you sent me too! Thanl you!!

      Delete
  5. That fudge you received looks delicious - so soft and creamy. I would like to try it. Condensed milk does have a tendency to burn easily. I think your cupcakes look gorgeous and I'm sure the icing on them with those ingredients is to die for xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was researching what went into Tablet I found many recipes with dire warnings about condensed milk exploding when heated, not just burning! Suffice it to say I was stirring with my face slightly averted.

      Delete
  6. The 30's are the best time in your life, I'm edging on 40. I wish I was just turning 30 all over again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given how many people have said that I'm actually kind of beginning to look forward to it!

      Delete
  7. Nice job with coming up with this recipe! I've never heard of Scottish Tablet, but now I really want to try some (and your cupcakes too!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you do try it I hold no responsibility over any weight gain that may follow!

      Delete
  8. I've never tried tablet but it sounds great, if sweet which is really perfect for a cupcake flavour! :) And happy birthday for Friday!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lorraine :) It is incredibly sweet, which is why it works well with the bitter whiskey icing. There's one left on my desk and I'm deciding whether to put it out of its misery...

      Delete
  9. Awww - Happy Birthday to you too! Hope the sun shines and you have something nice planned for Friday. As if to add insult to injury of turning 30, my little girl thinks it is hilarious to tell people "Mummy being 40 soon" Lies, all lies!!!! These look delicious - and good inventing. A whole load of my bakes end up going down that path - I just keep adding things as I go along.
    Thanks so much for taking part. I'm currently also very intrigued to see what Jono has planned... Roundup will be posted on Monday. Rx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming up with it - it was a great idea! We should make it an annual event. And don't worry, I'm sure nobody will believe what your little girl is saying about you ;)

      Delete
  10. Wow! I'm not brave enough to wing a cupcake recipe like this - so WELL DONE. Yesterday I did a bit of baking winging with gluten free pie crust.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GF pie crust is one thing that needs some serious winging! I've only made it once, and I ended up glueing it all together with honey. Good thing it was for a sweet pie ;) Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  11. I've just posted the roundup http://makey-cakey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/secret-ingredient-swap-roundup.html and have had a happy evening blogging and not thinking about numbers!
    Thanks again for joining in :o) Looking forward to seeing some of Mr E's other creations for your box of goodies...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh my, love the look of these, whiskey and tablet, two of my Hubby's fav things, we are both Scottish living in Texas and my blog www.tartantastesintx.blogspot.com is all about Scotish cooking while living here in Texas, i need to try these soon :) I am your newest follower also, have a great weekend :)

    ReplyDelete

Give me the loves! Erm, I mean, comment here...