Some of you may remember the purple cupcake food truck that appeared in Hanover and Lebanon and on a few neighboring college campuses throughout the Upper Valley in 2011. It was the result of a brief partnership with a fellow baker- one that did not end particularly well. Business was booming, but the partnership was not a good one. It happens. Life goes on and I was left with a wonderful baking experience that allowed for a lot of creativity in the kitchen- and, a lot of fun on the road!
Although the cupcake craze has been replaced with the cronut craze, the pie craze, the prezel craze, the artisan chocolate craze, etc. there will always be a place at the table for cupcakes. So, one by one throughout 2016, I plan on sharing the recipes of some of our most popular cupcakes. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’ll start with my fav, Triple Salted Caramel. This one takes a little more time since involves a decorative candy addition, but it’s well worth it! It’s sweet, it’s creamy and it’s salty.
Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Makes 15 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated into the mix. Add vanilla. Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Slowly add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. (Be sure butter, eggs and buttermilk are all at room temp if you want your cupcakes to be moist and not dry!)
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes. Place cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the cooled caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2-3 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. (If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes and beat again when cooled).
Candied Salted Caramel Rounds
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water
2-4 tablespoons of large-crystal sugar
Lay out a large piece of parchment on your work surface and spray with cooking oil (such as canola). Fill a large tub (or your sink) partially full of ice water.
Put sugar, salt and cold water in a heavy pan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring syrup to a boil. Lower heat slightly and swirl the pan once or twice so the syrup colors evenly, but do not stir. When caramel is a deep amber color, plunge the base of pan into iced water for about 2 seconds to stop further cooking.
Dip a spoon in the caramel and let it fall onto the parchment paper in a drizzle. Move the spoon in a circular motion as the syrup falls from the spoon. The caramel hardens in the pan quickly so you need to work fast. When caramel has hardened (it will still be sticky) sprinkle over large-crystal sugar. Remove from paper and adorn cupcakes.