If you haven’t been following my Instagram, then you’ve been missing out on my food porn (as my friends call it). You can check out some of the pictures in the widget to the right. Anyway, I’ve been getting some requests for recipes, and I’ve also been wanting to keep track of what I’m making in case I want to make them again (or get a special request :P). I’m going to be going back in time a little and pulling out different recipes and keeping them here for anyone interested.
The other night, I was invited to my neighbor’s place for a dinner party. I’ve already made a name for myself in the apartment as a great baker/cook, so I wanted to be sure to impress! I had done two of my favorites before – French Toast Cupcakes and Krispy Fluffernutter Brownies – so I wanted to try something new. I spent a couple of days scouring the Internet for a great new recipe, and I found this: 10 Great Mini Cupcake Ideas from Spoonful.com. One of them sounded too good not to try – Chocolate Salted-Caramel Cupcakes! So I got to work:
The recipe from Grace’s Sweet Life is actually three-in-one – The Cupcakes, The Frosting, The Caramel. For what it’s worth, I would suggest making it in that order mainly because the Caramel, if it sits too long, becomes impossible to work with and you’ll have to reheat it. Also, note that I didn’t actually use Grace’s frosting – I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, the cupcakes. These are super easy and Grace adapted them from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes:
Made about 48 Mini Cupcakes (Recipe says makes 18 regular-sized cupcakes).
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 18 miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
- Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each half way, placing one mini peanut butter cup in each cup; then add remaining batter to about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
I found a trick with the buttermilk, by the way. I couldn’t find any at the store, but I found out that if you beat heavy whipping cream long enough, it turns to butter! *mindblown* Put heavy whipping cream in a bowl and use an electric mixer on medium to beat the whipping cream for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes it will turn to Whipped Cream (add some almond extract and you have some AMAZING whipped cream).
Turn the mixer up to a high setting and continue to beat for another 10 minutes and it will turn to butter and start to separate from the milk. Pretty awesome! Felt like I was doing science! haha.
Anyway, with the cupcakes done, we’ll move to the frosting. As I mentioned, I didn’t use Grace’s (also adapted from Mama Stewart) mainly because it called for a metric crap-ton of butter (specifically 4 1/2 sticks). I’ve never used that much butter for frosting and I refuse to start now! So I poked around for a dark chocolate frosting recipe and found this one over at Beantown Baker. I adapted it a little:
- 6 Tbsp butter (I used the butter I made from making the buttermilk!)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup milk (or Baileys) (the original recipe came out really thick, so I just added 1/3 cup to the original 1/3 cup).
- Cream butter and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.
- Slowly add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency, then beat another 5 minutes creamy.
And done. Literally takes maybe 10 or 15 minutes.
And last but not least, Grace’s salted caramel. It is EXTREMELY important to have a candy thermometer for this. I don’t think mine would have come out very well if I didn’t have it. I picked one up at Giant for about $7, so no excuses!
I found that Grace’s Recipe (also adapted from Martha Stewart) ended up yielding probably twice as much as I needed for the recipe. If you’re a big fan of caramel, that’s probably not an issue. Also, someone gave me the great idea to save the leftovers and put it in to my morning coffee! So if you’d like leftovers, stick with the below recipe. If not, you can probably cut it down by 25%.
makes about 2 cups
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Place sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Heat over high heat, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Stop stirring, and cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed.
- Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360° F.
- Remove from heat; slowly pour in cream (be careful, mixture will spatter) and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt. Use immediately; if at any time caramel begins to harden, reheat gently until pourable.
Just an FYI, this ends up making a HUGE mess in your kitchen, but I promise you it is completely worth it! The final task is to put it all together by cutting out the center of the cupcake, pouring in some caramel, capping off the cupcake, and putting the frosting on. For what it’s worth, I found that using a normal spoon to pour the caramel worked great. When you scoop the caramel, you can twirl the spoon to keep the caramel from dripping too much.
- Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep for mini cupcakes and 1 1/2 to 2 inch deep for small individual cakes) from the center of each cake/cupcake (eat pieces). Spoon warm salted-caramel filling into each hollowed out cake/cupcake. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.
- For mini cupcake, fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium open-star tip (Ateco #821 or Wilton #18) with frosting. Pipe frosting on each mini cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. For small individual cakes, fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Wilton 6B) with frosting. Pipe on each cake, swirling tip and releasing. Garnish each of the cakes/cupcakes with a pinch of sea salt. Cakes/cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted (or the next morning); store at room temperature in airtight containers (do not refrigerate) until ready to serve.
And that’s it! It certainly was a lot of work (I think it took me about two hours or so, mainly because my kitchen is small and I was doing a lot of new things like making caramel from scratch and making butter milk from scratch). All in all, you could probably do this entire recipe in about an hour and 15 minutes? ish? Anyway, good luck, and let me know how they turn out!