Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and salted caramel drizzle

«Help! I think my wife has become addicted to baking 😱»

I can hear the hubby complaining. He thinks he’s going to have a hard time keeping his weight under control, what with finding dozens of cupcakes in the fridge every week—the temptation is just too great to ignore 😋 But what can I do? I have always loved baking, and lately, I’ve found it to be a very good stress-reliever… I guess he would just have to either practice on exercising self-control or think of some other means, like bringing what I made to share with some of his friends at work 😁

My latest baking adventure was last week, involving chocolate cupcakes, cream cheese, and salted caramel sauce. The cupcakes and cream cheese frosting were based on BrownEyedBaker’s recipe,* while the salted caramel sauce is from Cooking Classy


* I made some minor changes:

  1. I used kefir/buttermilk instead of sour cream. I actually did this by mistake, but it made sure the cupcakes turned out moist 😉
  2. I ended up using just ≤ 2 cups of the powdered sugar in the frosting recipe. I have the habit of tasting as I go along, and halfway through gradually adding the sugar to the mixture, I noticed the frosting is becoming too sweet already so I decided to just stop there even though the mixture is still a little bit watery. (I had considered adding 1/4 teaspoon salt after incorporating the full 4 cups called for in the recipe, but didn’t want to risk making the frosting salty either… I just wonder if I could have just added a tablespoon or so of cornstarch instead to absorb the excess liquid, since home-made powdered/icing sugar is just granulated sugar and cornstarch ground together in a food processor.)

Chocolate cupcakes

Makes 22-24 cupcakes

65 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder

140 ml hot water

260 g all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

375 g granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

190 ml kefir/buttermilk

  • Pre-heat oven to 175°C.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water; whisk until smooth.
  • In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat at medium-low speed until the mixture has cooled, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla and the cocoa mixture. Continue beating until smooth.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to «low» and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Mix each addition until just incorporated.
  • Line 2 standard (12 capacity) muffin pans with baking paper cups (or muffin forms). Fill each cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. (I did the baking in two batches)
  • Cool for 10 minutes in the pans before removing onto wire racks to cool completely.

Salted caramel cream cheese frosting

250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

225 g cream cheese, at room temperature

125 ml salted caramel sauce (recipe follows below)

230 g powdered (confectioner’s/icing) sugar

pinch of salt (optional)

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese at medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined.
  • Reduce the speed to «medium-low», then gradually add the powdered sugar until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to «medium-high», then beat for a further 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • Spoon the buttercream frosting into piping bags (if using immediately), or store in suitable containers for later use.
 

Salted caramel sauce

225 g granulated sugar

78 ml water

62 g salted butter, cut into cubes

125 ml heavy cream

1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or 3/4 tsp Maldon salt (flaky sea salt)

  • Gather all the ingredients and place them nearby, ready to add into the mixture as needed.
  • Heat the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan at medium-high heat, whisking to help dissolve the sugar. Stop whisking when the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Let the mixture boil, carefully swirling the pan occasionally, until it reaches a dark amber color.
  • Once the mixture is dark amber in color, immediately add the butter. Whisk until the butter has melted, then immediately remove from the heat.
  • Carefully pour in the cream and immediately whisk to combine (Note: mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth.
  • Stir in the sea salt.
  • Pour caramel into a glass jar/bowl to cool. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator once cooled; the caramel will keep for 2 weeks.
 

Assembly

  • Frost each (completely cooled) cupcake with the prepared cream cheese frosting. You can use a piping bag, or you can simply spread the frosting on top—works either way. Drizzle with the extra salted caramel sauce on top, and sprinkle with some flaky sea salt (optional).

Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and salted caramel drizzle Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and salted caramel drizzle

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