Monday, October 17, 2011

.ta-die-for chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting.

chocolate is an elixir for many people. it cures blues, lifts moods and satisfies a craving. mix it with a bite of something else and it can be ta-die-for. the usual "something else" suspects include nuts, peanut butter, a different kind of chocolate...

for these movie night party favors i made, i decided to top some chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting after running across a recipe for it on baked bree.

i searched a while for a new chocolate cake recipe that would taste delectable as a cupcake. after finding this one on my baking addiction, i'm not sure i'll ever make another chocolate cupcake.

during the process of putting it together, all seemed fine and dandy until i got to the last stages. at that point, i thought i had made a terrible mistake because the batter was extremely liquid-like. as i tried spooning it into the cupcake liners, it was like spooning hershey's syrup- not easy.

after doing the best i could, i put them in the oven and actually went back to the internet to find a new recipe. that's how little faith i had in these. however, when the time came to pull them out of the oven, i was so pleased to see that they actually formed little cakes.

so, i set my sights on the frosting. first, i made the salted caramel sauce and knew it would make enough to enjoy for a while on other treats.

then, i used it in the frosting recipe; which was pretty straightforward for a cream cheese based frosting. what made it stand out was the salted caramel sauce. oh la yum.

after the cakes cooled, i tried piping the frosting on with a new technique and then drizzled extra caramel sauce on top. they were small cupcakes, but boy oh boy were they packed with flavor.

this is a chocolate cupcake recipe that you will become smitten with- top it with whatever you like.

chocolate cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
3. Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

salted caramel frosting
2 sticks (1 cup) room temperature butter
1 brick (8-ounces) room temperature cream cheese
1/2 cup salted caramel (homemade like the recipe below or store bought, if you cannot find salted caramel, add about a teaspoon of sea salt)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
Pour in the salted caramel. Beat until combined.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat for a few minutes until really light and fluffy.

salted caramel

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (used 2 cups by accident, oops.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, sliced and seeded
1 teaspoon sea salt
Slice a vanilla bean in half. Using the back of the knife, scrape the seeds from the pod.
Pour the cream into a measuring cup and add the vanilla bean scrapings, and sea salt. Set aside.
Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sugar to a boil. Let the sugar cook (do not stir using a spoon, at most, you may swirl the pan to avoid hot spots) until it reaches a deep amber color.
Whisk in the cream mixture. It will bubble and go nuts, but keep whisking. It will come together.
Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge. The sauce will thicken, but it is more of a loose sauce.
This will keep for about a week in the fridge.

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