Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The winner of one of the polls on How to Eat a Cupcake were salted caramel cupcakes. I recently realised how much I loved salted caramel visiting Adriano Zumbo in Sydney, so I couldn't wait for Cassie to make these so I could try them too!

Cassie's recipe has a buttercream frosting drizzled with a caramel sauce sprinkled with salt. It was late when the cupcakes came out of the oven and I didn't feel up to a buttercream, so I thought I'd just go with the caramel sauce. I had put the sugar on to melt when I had a brainwave. In the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook, there is a recipe for a caramel sauce frosting. I thought I would try my hand at turning my currently melting sugar into a caramel sauce frosting. I had a small problem in that I'd run out of sugar, but in the end it didn't matter anyway.

While the sugar was melting I added some butter, golden syrup and cream and let it boil. While it was boiling I thought I would throw all caution to the wind and I sprinkled some kosher salt into my caramel. I risked my tongue a few times tasting and adding more salt, and when it got too hot just guessed as I added more salt. I had originally scaled the recipe for caramel sauce down to the small amount of sugar I had left, so I really just guessed a lot of the measurements.

After the caramel sauce had cooled I used an electric mixer to beat in the icing sugar. I didn't measure how much icing sugar, I just kept adding until the frosting stopped looking so wet. It looked pretty bad though, it wouldn't come together. The recipe suggests that you add extra cream if the mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if it was too wet. I drizzled in a small amount of cream and hey presto! it came together into a gorgeous smooth salty caramel icing. It was gorgeous and perfectly salted, but really really sweet.

The cupcakes are surprisingly dense, but when you pair them with the frosting they go very very well together as the denseness of the cake can hold up to the sweetness of the frosting. The next day the frosting seemed to have settled and it wasn't as toothachingly sugary. In fact, it was so good it was tempting to just eat the frosting off the top of the cupcake (I may or may not have actually done this).

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski.

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk (I did use skim)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180°C. 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.

Real Caramel Sauce Frosting
from Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook by Jennifer Graham

(I really only used this recipe as a guide and I have no idea about the measurements I used, this is the recipe as stated in the book with salt as the only change I've made)

100g butter
2/3 cups soft brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup cream
salt to taste
8 cups icing sugar (or as much icing sugar as needed to achieve the right consistency, I used much less than this)

Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream in a heavy-bsed saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a flat bottomed wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Turn heat up to high and boil for at least 5 minutes. Add salt to taste, but be careful as the caramel can get quite hot. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.

Add sifted icing sugar a little bit at a time to the cooled caramel mixture and use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat for 3 minutes until the desired consistency is achieved. Add extra cream if the mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if the mixture is too wet.

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