Well, I promised you, so here it is: yummy milk chocolate cupcakes dipped in salted caramel and topped with caramel swirled cream cheese frosting.
Since this was a last minute decision, I don’t have my usual ingredient photos, but I do have a couple of helpful photos for making the caramel sauce. It’s important to cook the sugar until it’s the right color, because that browning of the sugar is what gives caramel it’s flavor. However, in my experience, it’s very, very easy to go overboard in no time at all.
This picture (sorry for the blur) shows you what color your sugar should be when you remove it from the heat. Any lighter than this and you won’t get that caramel-y flavor, but if you go any darker at all, it will taste very burnt. Trust me on this. Some cookbooks or websites will tell you to go darker, until there is almost a reddish tint to the sugar, but don’t do it. Remember, this is experience talking.
Also, making candy is dangerous. There is nothing worse than a candy burn…again, trust me on this. Be very, very careful when handling hot sugar. There is a point in making this sauce when you should be prepared for hot spluttering and steam.
When adding the cream (or any liquid) to hot sugar, it will expand very rapidly, foaming, spluttering, and generating a lot of hot steam. For this step, place the hot sugar on a stable surface, wear an oven mitt on the hand pouring the cream, and use a long wooden spoon for stirring, so that your hand isn’t close to the candy or steam.
Other than those important notes, this is a really simple, very worthwhile recipe.
Making spun sugar is quite easy, but make sure there are no little ones around when you make it. To make your own spun sugar designs, you will follow the same recipe and directions for the caramel sauce, but do not add the cream, butter, and salt. Simply cook the sugar, water, and corn syrup until amber in color, remove it from the heat and allow to sit for about 30 seconds. Use a spoon or fork to quickly drizzle fun shapes onto parchment paper. The mixture hardens almost immediately, so you may need to practice. Just use a large piece of parchment so that you have plenty of room for trial and error.
To make curved shapes, wrap parchment around a rolling pin, can, or other cylindrical item and drizzle the sugar over it. Allow to cool completely before using.
Making the spun sugar pieces was definitely my favorite part of this recipe! I’ve never done it before, so it was a new experience and it was totally fun!! I highly recommend trying it! Whether you add the spun sugar or not, though, these cupcakes are wonderful! Thank you for the inspiration to everyone who commented about salted caramel cupcakes! You guys are brilliant! Now go bake!! Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 3 dozen cupcakes
FOR THE CUPCAKES
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, crushed
FOR THE FROSTING
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a large (4 cup) measuring cup, combine the water and cocoa powder and whisk thoroughly. Stir int he milk; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the apple sauce, then scrape the bowl and add the vanilla. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the batter and beat until just combined. Add half of the cocoa mixture, mix until combined, then repeat with the remaining flour and cocoa mixtures, scraping the bowl as needed.
Place 2 tablespoons of batter in each cupcake liner and bake for 18-20 minutes, or untila toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
To make the sauce: Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Without stirring, bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the ingredients in the pan occasionally. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches an amber color. Remove from heat and very carefully (the mixture will quickly expand and sputter) add the cream in a slow steady stream, being sure to stir constantly. Once combined, add the salt and butter and continue stirring until both are completely melted and combined. Cool to room temperature before using.
To make the frosting: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Stir in the vanilla until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a team, beating well between each addition until the frosting is light and fluffy.
To add the caramel swirl, drizzle some of the caramel sauce into an empty pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choice(or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped). Fill the bag with the frosting and pipe onto the cupcakes. Each time you need more frosting, add more caramel to the bag first. *If you don’t feel comfortable with putting a swirl in your frosting, you can drizzle the sauce over the cupcake after you frost it instead.
To assemble, dip each cupcake in the salted caramel sauce and chill for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, Frost cupcakes, as desired. Drizzle with more caramel or top with spun sugar or other decorations.
recipe by Darla