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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cupcakes

I have neglected this blog since we have moved from Monterey, CA to Maryland. OK, even a little longer than that. However, I was asked for this recipe and decided that this was a good opportunity to try to revive this project. A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I were in DC and shared a divine piece of Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cake. I knew I wanted to recreate the experience. I read several recipes and below is what I created. I have to add that I am quite proud of how these turned out. Ridiculously yummy! Although I do think they taste better the next day as the cake absorbs the caramel.

Do set aside at least a couple of hours to bake, let caramel cool and assemble. I had to play with making the caramel. I threw away my first batch as it got too hard from over-cooking. I changed my method and now I have gotten the technique down nicely and it is explained below. Since I had not thought about writing these up I apologize that I didn’t take any pictures. I’ll try to remember next time I make them and add some then. In addition I did not sample these with any wine. Hard to believe, I know. However, I feel very comfortable in saying these would be delicious with a Brut Prosecco or Cava.

RECIPE: Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cupcakes
Yields 24 Cupcakes
o 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
o 1 3/4 cups sugar
o 2 large eggs
o 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
o 1/2 teaspoon salt
o 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
o 2 1/2 cups flour
o 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
3. Sift in flour alternating with buttermilk.
4. Stir until batter is smooth.
5. Fill lined muffin tins with batter.
6. Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes.
7. Let cupcakes cool 45 to an hour before adding filling.

RECIPE: Salted Caramel Filling
o 1 cup sugar
o 6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
o 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
o 1/4 tsp sea salt

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat. The best way to do this is let it melt on its own. If it appears to be melting unevenly, stir it to spread heat. This may cause lumps, but they should melt.
2. Melt butter and cream in microwave
3. When sugar turns a deep amber color, SLOWLY add the butter and cream and whisk until the caramel is smooth. Whisk in salt. If there are any hard pieces, break them up with spoon. If some don’t break up, you can strain caramel into a bowl.
4. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

5. Using a large pastry tip or a paring knife, cut a small round piece out of the top of each cupcake.
6. Pour in around 1-2 teaspoons of caramel. You may have some leftover caramel. You can add this to the caramel for frosting.

RECIPE: Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
o 1/4 cup granulated sugar
o 2 tablespoons water
o 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
o 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
o 1 cup butter, softened
o 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
o 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
o Sugar and a tiny amount of sea salt for sprinkling

1. Make caramel for frosting. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over medium heat. Cook until it turns a deep amber color.
2. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream and vanilla, whisking until it is very smooth. Return to heat if lumps. Strain if necessary.
3. Let cool for around 20 minutes, until it’s just barely warm and still pourable.
4. Meanwhile, beat butter and salt together.
5. Add powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.
6. Pour in the cooled caramel and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes.
7. Spread or pipe onto filled cupcakes (if frosting is too runny, the caramel was too warm when added – refrigerate for around 15-20 minutes until frosting is stiffer. If you leave it in fridge to long it will go to stiff, allow it to return to room temperature).
8. Sprinkle each cupcake with a small pinch of sea salt and some sugar.