Salted Caramel Cupcakes

prepared by and photo by Emily Doscher

Yes, these take a bit of time… but holy cow!  … so stinkin’ delish.  Caramel lovers will feel as if they have gone to heaven in a cupcake form.

Size: makes 12-14

Ingredients:
CUPCAKES:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Caramel Swirl Buttercream (recipe below)
12 caramel candies
Coarse sea salt
CARAMEL SWIRL BUTTERCREAM:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
Caramel Drizzle (recipe below)
CARAMEL DRIZZLE:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Pinch salt

Directions:

SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES:  Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the 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.

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 out 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.

Frost the cupcakes with the Caramel Swirl Buttercream (see recipe below).  (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:  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 160F 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.

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 all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 305 minutes more.  Add the Caramel Drizzle and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed,  Use right away.

CARAMEL DRIZZLE:  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.

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.)


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Author: Emily Sarah Downs

Cuisine Coordinator, Tips From Town, Ridgewood, NJ

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