Sticky toffee cupcakes recipe

(1275 ratings)

Our indulgent sticky toffee cupcakes take 55 minutes to make and are 442 calories per cake.

Sticky toffee cupcakes with buttercream and caramel on a wooden board
(Image credit: Getty)
Preparation Time35 mins (including soaking and icing)
Cooking Time20 mins
Total Time55 mins
Cost RangeMid
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories442 Kcal22%
Sugar49.4 g55%
Fat20.9 g30%
Saturated Fat12.8 g64%
Salt1.25 gRow 4 - Cell 2
Protein3.2 g6%
Carbohydrates61.0 g23%
Salt1.25 gRow 7 - Cell 2

These sticky toffee cupcakes are the perfect hybrid of dessert and an afternoon treat. 

This cupcake recipe is inspired by the classic comforting British pudding. Each cupcake is topped with a rich buttercream and can be drizzled with homemade caramel or a shop bought alternative. 


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

For the buttercream:

  • 160g salted butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted

For the caramel:

  • 125g white caster sugar
  • 80ml double cream
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract




  1. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan, Gas 4). Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cupcake cases. In a heatproof bowl, pour 180ml boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Then, with a fork, gently break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.
  2. 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 and slipping in 1 tbsp flour about halfway through to prevent curdling. Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture.
  3. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15–20 minutes (the tops should spring back when pressed with a finger). Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, make the caramel. Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 60ml water. Heat gently until dissolved then increase the heat to a boil. Wait a few minutes, leaving the pan undisturbed but keep a close eye on it. As soon as it changes to a wonderful caramel colour (like strong tea) and is thicker, remove immediately from the heat. Working quickly but carefully, add the cream and mix. Once combined, add a pinch of salt and the vanilla extract. Leave to cool. You can spread it on a lined baking tray to quicken the cooling process.
  5. Prepare the buttercream icing by mixing the softened butter and icing sugar with an electric hand mixer until pale and thick. Add some of the cooled salted caramel and mix until fully incorporated.
  6. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with the star nozzle and pipe it on to the cakes, or spread it on with a palette knife. Drizzle with a little more caramel sauce before serving, if liked.

Watch how to make sticky toffee cupcakes 

Top tips for making sticky toffee cupcakes

If you don’t have time to make your own caramel, combine 3-4 tbsp dulce de leche with 1 tsp vanilla extract and a little flaked sea salt, to your preferred taste. For more tips when making caramel or the cupcakes, continue reading below. 

Does sticky toffee have nuts?

A traditional sticky toffee pudding doesn’t have nuts in the sponge but they can be added for delicious flavour and texture. You can add nuts to the cupcake batter too if you like.

Walnuts and pecans are especially good flavour pairings. Swap approximately 50g flour for 50g roughly chopped nuts. You could also decorate the top of the cakes with some sprinkled nuts. 

How does cream affect caramel?

You should take care when mixing the cream into the caramel as it can spit out of the pan. Let the cream stand at room temperature for a little before adding to the pan as the colder it is the more the caramel will split.

Stir the cream in quickly and at first the mixture will look split but keep stirring and it will come together. Cream thickens the final caramel and adds a rich, dairy flavour.

Should you stir sugar when making caramel?

No, it’s important you avoid stirring the sugar and water solution as too much agitation can cause the sugar to crystallise, explains food writer Jessica Ransom.

If there are granules of sugar on the sides of your pan, use a pastry brush dipped in water and brush the sides of the pan to encourage the sugar into the main syrup. 

If you are making your own caramel a light coloured, heavy saucepan is best. Food writer Jessica Ransom recommends this one from Le Creuset

Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Lidded Saucepan 16cm - View at John Lewis

Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Lidded Saucepan 16cm - <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">View at John Lewis

The 16cm size pan is a good all-rounder and can be used for a variety of recipes. The pan is made from stainless steel which looks timeless and chic in any kitchen. It’s also the ideal colour to make caramel in as you can easily see the colour change from clear to rich and golden. When you’ve made the caramel, fill with water and gently warm on the hob to help with cleaning. 

If you like this recipe you should try our chocolate cupcakes recipe for something equally as tasty and indulgent. For something simpler but delicious our vanilla cupcake recipe is perfect. Rainbow cupcakes make an excellent addition to any birthday party or picnic and also make a wonderful colourful treat for the afternoon. 

Rosie Conroy
Food Writer

Rosie is an experienced food and drinks journalist who has spent over a decade writing about restaurants, cookery, and foodie products. Previously Content Editor at and Digital Food Editor on Woman&Home, Rosie is well used to covering everything from food news through to taste tests. Now, as well as heading up the team at SquareMeal - the UK's leading guide to restaurants and bars - she also runs a wedding floristry business in Scotland called Lavender and Rose.