Monday, February 8, 2010

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Caramel Buttercream

Phew! Rather long title, huh? I decided that was a little too much for the photo, so I left it out, ha ha. I've been making a lot of cupcakes recently, but at least have been getting quite a workout shoveling snow! 28 inches was the official measurement by our yardstick! And we're due to get more snow tomorrow afternoon, 10-15 inches, according to the news!! I don't think our area has ever gotten so much snow in so little time, it's ridiculous! But, it's been closing schools, so that's been one positive thing about it.

Anyways, back to the cupcakes. These are awesome, the cupcake is incredibly moist, and the buttercream is simply delicious! The cupcake part I've actually tried once before, so I knew that would be good, but the buttercream was new to me, so I was really eager to try it out. It's a Swiss Meringue buttercream, made with brown sugar and then finished off with a large amount of homemade caramel sauce thrown right into the frosting. Yum! I really seem to be on a caramel binge here recently, and that does happen to me from time to time (caramel and malt seem to be most popular with me!). I've also had toffee bars on the mind, using the caramel recipe I made for the Banoffee Pie in my very first post. Those might be making an appearance on here in the near future! Though I'm going to try to not bake anything from now until Valentine's Day, just to be good, unless it's for breakfast. I don't think I ever realized how much sweets I made until I actually started documenting them on this blog, ha ha! Anyways, on to the recipes!

Brown Sugar Cupcakes (Originally under the name Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski)
Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (I used 2%, and that's fine)
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixture on medium-high speed, beat the sugars and butter 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 just until combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.
After you put the cupcakes in the oven, immediately begin working on the caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce (doubled from Debby Maugans Nakos' Small-Batch Baking)
Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, swirling the saucepan frequently, until the sugar syrup is golden amber in color, about 7 to 9 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from heat and gradually add cream, stirring slowly and carefully - the caramel will sputter when the liquid is added. The sugar will seize and harden. Return the pan to the heat and continue cooking until the sugar melts again, about 2 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (Your caramel sauce may seem rather liquidy at first, but will thicken upon cooling.)
Brown Sugar Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • caramel sauce, to taste
  1. Place egg whites, brown sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl and fit the bowl over a large pan of simmering water (double boiler style). Whisk the egg mixture constantly until the mixture feels hot to the touch and no longer grainy when rubbed between your fingers, about 5 minutes (and about 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer).
  2. Put the egg mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high until the mixture is light and fluffy and hold stiff peaks. Continue beating until the whipped egg whites come to room temperature. (Feel the bowl for this...if it no longer feels warm at all, then it's good to go.)
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment, and with the mixer on low, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting a couple of seconds before adding the next tablespoon. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and creamy, 6 to 10 minutes. The mixture may appear to be curdled during this time...don't freak out, just keep beating and it will come back together! (Some people also may experience the buttercream seeming very liquidy...again, just keep beating and it will thicken up!)
  4. Once the mixture is thick and smooth, add the cooled caramel sauce a little bit at a time, to taste. You will not likely end up using all of the caramel sauce. Start out adding about 1/4 cup, and increase the amount to your liking.
To Assemble
  1. Frost the cupcakes with your favorite decorating tip or knife/spatula.
  2. Drizzle the cupcakes with any of the remaining caramel sauce, if you wish. Enjoy!

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