Every once in a while, we bakers make things that taste really good, but need a little help in the beauty department. That is what happened to me last night. I was super excited (and quite scared, actually) to make caramel for these cupcakes, and it turned out beautifully. However, regarding the frosting, I realized shortly after piping that the frosting was starting to droop. So when the recipe said “3-4 cups powdered sugar” it really meant at least 4. 3 cups of powdered sugar just did not yield a frosting adequate for generous piping, and I actually had to freeze these little guys for a few minutes to get the frosting to stay put. Thankfully, they were saved, and the caramel was simply to die for, but I wasn’t as pleased as I could have been with the frosting viscosity.
That being said, I must say this:
MAKE THIS SALTED CARAMEL.
It will change your life. It is so easy and soooo delicious.
You will never buy caramel from the store again. Ever.
I can’t have a lot of sugar, but I took a little lick of this and a slew of curse words burst from me rather involuntarily. It’s that good.
Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Baked Bree
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sea salt
- Combine heavy cream, sea salt, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Do not stir. Bring sugar to a boil and allow to cook until it is a deep amber color.
- Whisk in heavy cream mixture. The sugar will seize and foam, but keep whisking–it will come together.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
Next, let’s make some dark chocolate cupcakes.
Every time I make cupcakes, I use a different cupcake recipe. I’m trying to figure out what I like most so that I can customize and combine in the future when I have more opportunity to experiment. Quite coincidentally, both of the chocolate cupcake recipes that I have tried recently have been very brownie-like in texture. Which, don’t get me wrong, is not a problem at all. I will keep this recipe in my back pocket, while also exploring more fluffy options. This one is a winner though, and is super easy.
Kinda looks like a cookie from above, doesn’t it?
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
From Bakers Royale
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup sour cream
1. Place butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan with two inches of simmering water. Gently stir butter and chocolate until melted and combined. Set aside until mixture is warm to touch.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
3. Whisk eggs in second bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.
4. Fill cupcake line 2/3 full. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
5. Cool cupcakes to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.
They smelled SO GOOD. I kept smelling them all night long. Mmmmm dark chocolate.
And then finally, time to frost!! This is where my troubles came in–the original recipe said 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, and I put only 3. My problem was that when I did a stiffness check (by flipping my spatula upside down and checking the peaks), it seemed fine, but once I got it into the piping bag and it got some warmth, it lost stiffness very, very quickly. I’ve changed the recipe to include more. Of course, if you want a looser, fluffy frosting, go ahead and put 3 cups. I like to have a crisp piping though, so next time that’s what I’ll be doing! They were still delicious–fluffy and not too sweet, like eating a salted caramel whipped cream.
Salted Caramel Frosting
Adapted from Baked Bree
2 sticks (1 cup) room temperature butter
1 brick (8-ounces) room temperature cream cheese
1/2 cup salted caramel (homemade or store bought, if you cannot find salted caramel, add about a teaspoon of sea salt)
4-5 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.
I topped mine with some caramel-filled kisses :)
I started with a star piping, then smoothed out some into domes later on. It’s really your preference, but if you’re serving them right away I would definitely recommend drizzling on a bit more caramel sauce.
Despite any aesthetic problems, the cupcakes got rave reviews. My mother was so possessive of her’s that when I asked for a small piece of the cake portion (so that I could check for moistness, etc.), she became very defensive. It was hilarious. And my grandfather (for whom I made these cupcakes in the first place) scooped one up as I was putting them in his fridge and inhaled it in about 2 minutes flat. With a glass of Moxie. Ohhh, pepere :). Then my mom’s friend gave it a 9.7 out of 10, for the sole reason that she’s still in love with my nutella-filled, strawberry frosted cupcakes and so she couldn’t give these first place. I think I can handle that.
So there are my Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cupcakes!
11 more days until I leave for London!!
Getting things together and meeting new people on la facebook now.