Sticky toffee cupcakes with salted caramel cream

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By: Fiona Cairns

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This recipe is classed as intermediate

Rating 3.41 / 5 (519 votes)

Prep time:
20 min, plus 20 minute soaking
Cook time:
30 min

Fiona Cairns brings everyones favourite pudding bang up to date with a salted caramel butter cream topping. Make your own caramel or buy a shop bought version.

View more cupcake recipes


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Place the paper cases into a 12 hole cupcake tin.

2. In a heatproof bowl, pour 180ml boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 20 minutes. With a fork, gently break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.

3. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar for a good 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition, slipping in 1 tbsp flour about halfway through to prevent curdling. Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture.

4. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed with a finger. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

5. For the caramel Dissolve the sugar and 60ml water in a small, heavy-based pan over a gentle heat, then increase the heat to a boil. Wait a few minutes, but do not stir - watch it like carefully and as soon as it changes to a caramel colour (like strong tea) and starts to thicken, remove immediately from the heat. Stand well back and add the cream.

6. Be very careful as it is searing hot and it may splatter a little. It will react, or ‘seize’, and you may think it has gone wrong; it hasn’t. Keep stirring, adding the salt and the vanilla. Leave until stone cold - if using shop bought caramel sauce, such as dulce de leche, simply mix it with the salt and vanilla.

7. For the buttercream: Cream the butter and icing sugar for at least 5 minutes with an electric mixer and add the caramel or dulce de leche if using.

8. Put the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe it onto the cakes, or spread it on with a palette knife.


  • 180 g dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 80 g unsalted butter
  • 150 g muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the caramel

  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 80 ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160 g butter
  • 200 g icing sugar

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Latest Comment


How much dulce de leche is needed?

Dys Dys  Posted 29 Oct 2014 10:07 PM

Hi Ann, thanks for your comment - you add the caramel to the buttercream, as it says in step 7. Let us know what you think if you make this recipe, we love a bit of salted caramel!

Anna -Good Food Anna -Good Food  Posted 04 Jun 2014 10:11 AM

What do you do with the caramel? Does it go on before the buttercream or do you slice the cakes and spread it like a sandwich?

AnnC75636 AnnC75636  Posted 30 May 2014 12:12 PM

I think these were quite dry... i would suggest maybe making a normal cupcake for the base then searching for a toffee butter icing somewhere else? .. They taste okay but not amazing. I wouldn't make agian.

sophieS87092 sophieS87092 Posted 18 Dec 2013 1:23 PM

For the dulce de leche method

3-4tbsp dulce de leche. Half a teaspoon of salt or less
1tsp vanilla extract mix together add to buttercream and put in piping bag use star nozzle.

evelynjesse evelynjesse Posted 21 Jul 2013 1:41 PM

Just made the butter cream from this recipe an piped it on the most boring cake in the world. The cake has been transformed, it is truly delicious

LynnW18777 LynnW18777 Posted 18 Oct 2012 6:16 PM

tasty, cant wait to eat them.

tonyB6349 tonyB6349 Posted 16 Oct 2012 10:07 AM

If using shop bought caramel or dulce de leche, what quantity is needed. Is it 200g/200ml?

Paul Howarth Paul Howarth Posted 03 Aug 2012 11:22 AM

I just made these and I'm so disappointed. I found the frosting really sickly sweet and I didn't think they tasted like sticky toffee pudding. However, my son and husband (my husband is english, son is 1/2 american 1/2 english) they both liked the cupcakes, so what do I know? My husband gave them 9/10

SamanthaS94798 SamanthaS94798 Posted 27 Jul 2012 11:16 PM

Hi Maureen, thanks for your comment, apologies the recipe was confusing.

You add the caramel to the buttercream and mix it in then pipe or spread the buttercream mixture onto the cupcakes.

If you'd like to see more of our cupcake recipes you can find some of our favourite recipes here: [link]

Tom_GoodFood Tom_GoodFood Posted 23 May 2012 11:25 AM

Do you put the caramel on cake then the buttercream

MaureenA71951 MaureenA71951 Posted 19 May 2012 10:41 PM

These cupcakes are just delicious, I will make them again and again!

FionaB68090 FionaB68090 Posted 01 May 2012 11:25 AM

These are fab. Taste just like sticky toffee pudding. The topping is lovely too the only issue I had is I found the topping very soft so when icing it collapsed a bit. These doesnt effect the taste though!!

claireH40316 claireH40316 Posted 04 Apr 2012 4:25 PM

I do not understand where the 3 1/2 stars came from...I took them to work and left two at home..everbody thought the cupcakes were amazing and the best cupcake they had ever had... I cannot confirm this because when I got home my son had ate them and said they were the best I had ever will have to wait until I make the next batch and make sure I get in there first!!!! the frosting I made was not runny at all and decorated easily and apparently no-one noticed it being salty

Mumsrule Mumsrule Posted 12 Feb 2012 3:45 PM

I used this icing on a Ginger Cupcake recipe and they were AMAZING - a match made in heaven!! I will try with the intended cupcake recipe very soon and compare!

AndreaC33759 AndreaC33759 Posted 24 Nov 2011 11:02 PM

I followed this recipe to the letter and the cupcakes turned out very well indeed!

Next time I will let the caramel brown a little further to enhance the flavor of the icing though as I think I was a little impatient.

I will defiantly make these again and have already forwarded this recipe to a few others to try.

SteveRiley SteveRiley Posted 17 Oct 2011 9:09 PM

Maybe a bit to sweet......

AbbygailShun AbbygailShun Posted 09 Oct 2011 4:59 AM

These were lovely, and the icing was sooo delicious! My family want me to use it on other recipes too

ami2 ami2 Posted 26 Sep 2011 4:05 PM

i would like to say that the cupcake itself is very delicious, though heavy but tastes great and its soft. the icing, i agree with other comments, firstly too much salt being added makes it too salty and doesn't tastes good...secondly the icing is too runny and thus i was unable to decorate them follow the recipe for cupcake as written but try some changes with frosting such as adding less salt and make a good butter cream so that when even u add caramel sauce in it, it doesn't get too runny otherwise u can only dream of decorating ur perfect cupcake.

Asmi2091 Asmi2091 Posted 07 Aug 2011 12:05 AM

These were so tasty and moist and stayed fresh for the next day unlike other cupcakes.Best cupcakes so far!Will only let me click 1 star but it gets 5 star!

RuthT17341 RuthT17341 Posted 05 Aug 2011 9:18 AM

Wont let me rate it but i'd give it 5 stars - I made it for the kids to give to their teachers for the end of year and they went down a storm. I'm going to try them with gluten free flour next time as my daughter is coeliac.

LyndaS19857 LyndaS19857 Posted 21 Jul 2011 5:53 PM

to blulou - today I made these for the third time! the first time, like you the buttercream was too runny, the second time I was too impatient and iced them when they were still too hot and today, they are perfect! I followed the recipe for the buttercream, but instead of making the caramel, I cheated and used waitrose creamy fudge dessert sauce and just mixed it with the buttercream the consistency was good as long as you wait for them to cool!

kazzer 1 kazzer 1 Posted 30 Jun 2011 3:02 PM

If you dont like dates then there are lots of other cupcake recipes, I would use one of them. The sticky toffee part of the cake/pudding comes from the use of dates so its not going to be a sticky toffee cupcake no matter what you replace it with. I have to say that for me you cannot taste 'dates' once its whizzed up and in the cake in these recipes anyway so it might be worth trying. I bet there are lots of people who've eaten sticky toffee pudding and not realised its full of dates.

blulou blulou Posted 15 Jun 2011 5:56 PM

I've just made these this afternoon but the frosting wasn't thick enough, even though I followed the recipe, so it hasn't kept the shape very well. Does anyone have any tips on how to get the buttercream the right consistency?

That aside these are delicious, will definitely be baking them again.

zoeP33575 zoeP33575 Posted 13 Mar 2011 5:14 PM

so so lovely, diffintly dat will give the natural choocklaty taest weel don love it.

amoola amoola Posted 07 Mar 2011 3:17 PM

These were a hit with my family who all adore sticky toffee pudding. I got 20 cupcakes out of mixture and found that I had lots of icing mixture left even though I slapped it on generously. Definitely will make it again.

Catmad30 Catmad30 Posted 21 Sep 2010 8:27 PM

I left out the dates as I just wanted toffee cupcakes and just added a splash of water to the mixture instead and they were great. The icing was far too runny. I used a tin of dulce de leche instead so think I would try the homemade version next time to see if it makes a difference.

lindsey8 lindsey8 Posted 17 Sep 2010 10:11 AM

These cupcakes tasted really good! The recipe is slightly wrong, as you don't need to add the salt and vanilla when making the buttercream, only when finishing off the caramel you add these ingredients.

I found at the point of adding the caramel to the creamed butter and icing sugar that the texture was quite loose. To help it firm up a bit I put it in the fridge for a little while so it was easier to pipe onto the cupcakes.

Awesome cupcakes though and all my family and friends thought so!

JessicaT1964 JessicaT1964 Posted 15 Sep 2010 9:46 PM

I meant to put 5 not 4 sorry!

shannonH13616 shannonH13616 Posted 11 Sep 2010 12:27 PM

This Recipe Looks Delicous and also taste delicous. My friend and I Have decided to rate this cupcake with 5 stars

shannonH13616 shannonH13616 Posted 11 Sep 2010 12:26 PM

Tried this, was really really good!. I used light brown cane sugar instead os muscovado, worked out really well. And i also forgot to add salt in the caramel, how does it affect it?. my cupcake tasted well. Anyone know te answer?

maz12 maz12 Posted 29 Aug 2010 9:15 PM

Lovely recipe. Hadn't make cupcakes for years and these worked really well. Must remember to buy a new cupcake baking tray as mine was too small so used a baking sheet, ending up with most of the cakes stretching and slightly overspilling the cases. Also I used dulche de leche - around 2 tablespoons was enough - and put a pinch more salt in. Delicious!!!

JenH76 JenH76 Posted 04 Jul 2010 3:42 PM

Hi Nora - I found the recipe on this site and couldn't resist trying it as sticky toffee pudding is one of my favourites. There are photos on my blog about these cakes. - [link] I also made them for Iron Cupcake and people really liked them!
@Nomnomnom I'm not sure why you would bother to make these as without the dates they would not be sticky toffee pudding. You'd be better to make plain vanilla cupcakes and just make the frosting.

Iheartcupcakes Iheartcupcakes Posted 03 Jul 2010 9:40 PM

I was wondering if I could use more flour/sugar/butter in place of the dates, as i'm not keen on them and would prefer plain cupcakes? Could anybody help me on this? Thanks x

nomnomnom nomnomnom Posted 06 Jun 2010 6:53 PM

i really loved making this and my friends are demanding more Smile !!!

BethC92716 BethC92716 Posted 14 May 2010 7:39 PM

Lovely, just taken a look at your blog, excellent. Did you google the recipe or did you just come across it on the site? It would be ace if you uploaded an image.

Nora R Nora R Posted 10 May 2010 12:42 PM

I baked these and they were some of the nicest cupcakes I have ever made and I've made a few. Pretty simple recipe to follow and everyone that tried them really enjoyed them.
I've got some pics and changes I made in my blog post about them - feel free to take a peak Smile

Iheartcupcakes Iheartcupcakes Posted 09 May 2010 8:05 PM

Delicious! Very easy to make and looked a treat. Very sweet so one is enought, but much enjoyed by all who tried them.

Morven2 Morven2 Posted 05 May 2010 9:52 AM

Lovely to hear Lisa! Do you have any pictures, that you could upload to the recipe. We'd love to see them!

Nora R Nora R Posted 22 Apr 2010 9:35 AM

These cakes are fabulous and my customers love them. They were very easy to make and I shall be baking them again very soon.
10 out of 10 - Thank you

LisaR69402 LisaR69402 Posted 21 Apr 2010 7:26 PM

Glad they turned out well! This recipe is brand new, so fab to see a recipe comment already. Sorry about the error I have emended the recipe to include the icing sugar which stipulates 200g

Nora R Nora R Posted 26 Mar 2010 9:43 AM

very easy recipe - cakes deliciously moist. only irritation is that the icing stipulates icing sugar and then doesnt tell you how much to use - try using 500gm which works well

claireP74693 claireP74693 Posted 25 Mar 2010 11:04 PM