salted caramel cupcakes

caramel cupcakes

my contribution to the superbowl party. a new recipe, and a huge hit with the crowd. was able to finish these babies right before we walked out the door, just in time to snap a couple of quick (and not styled) photos. they are delightful. and made in my
heart-shaped cupcake pan.

ooey gooey caramel

salted caramel cupcakes
from cupcakes by shelly kaldunski

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

caramel swirl buttercream
12 caramel candies
sea salt

01. position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners

02. in a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. in another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

03. divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes our clean, 20-22 minutes. let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

04. frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (the frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.) top each cupcake with a caramel candy, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, and serve.

caramel swirl buttercream

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
pinch salt

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature

for the caramel drizzle:
01. in a heavy-bottomed, high-sided saucepan, cook the sugar over medium-high heat until it begins to melt around the edges, about 5 minutes. stirring with a clean wooden spoon, continue to cook until the sugar is melted and has turned golden amber, about 3 minutes longer.

02. carefully pour the cream down the side of the pan in a slow, steady stream (it will bubble and spatter), stirring constantly until completely smooth. stir in the salt. pour the caramel into a small heatproof bowl and let cool completely before using. (the caramel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before using.)

for the buttercream:
03. in a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes. remove the bowl from the saucepan. using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

04. with the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. if the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after the butter is all added, continue to eat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more.

05. add the caramel and mix only until swirled. use right away.

(note: i ended up mixing only half of the caramel into the buttercream, and drizzling some on top as well. i thought afterwards, a simpler way would be to melt the remaining caramels from the bag you bought and swirl that into the buttercream... i'd give that a go next time. oh, and for the little guys on top? dip 'em in chocolate and let cool before adorning the cakes. please add this to your definitely-make-someday list.)