Hi everyone~ I have another cupcake recipe for you today. As far as it goes, I’m not usually too big on caramel, seeing as I don’t have that big of a sweet tooth. But salted caramel, I can kind of get behind it. A pinch of salt just nicely emphasizes the flavour of something sweet. Often, if a cake is missing a pinch of salt, you can taste it. It tastes… empty. You need the salt.
Of course, I tend to go a bit overboard and oversalt my sweet things, but that’s another matter. I oversalt everything anyway, and usually need someone else to moderate the salt input. In any case, these cupcakes are not overly salty, since I followed the guidelines to the dot. I wouldn’t even have known this was supposed to be salted caramel if I didn’t make it myself. Anyway, have a peek at the recipe below~
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 113 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 113 g salted butter
- 113 g unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 1-4 tablespoons large crystal sugar - omitted
- Preheat oven to 160 C. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.
- 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; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
- Melt the sugar over medium high heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake and pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel. Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.
- In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. 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 caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 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.
- Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting.
- 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 as the syrup caramelizes so it will color evenly; do not stir. When the caramel is deep amber, plunge the base of the pan into ice water for about 2 seconds to stop further cooking.
- Working quickly, 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. Repeat 15 times. When caramel has hardened (it will still be sticky) sprinkle on the large-crystal sugar. Remove from paper and decorate cupcakes.
- I gave up on the candied salted caramel rounds, thinking that they weren't coming off the paper. But you have to let them harden completely before removing it.
So the idea behind this sounded pretty good. It even had a salted caramel filling. Together with salted caramel buttercream. And candied salted caramel to decorate, which made the cupcakes look even more gorgeous. But of course, the more components there are to a cake, the more time and effort you would have to invest to complete the whole thing.
That’s part of the fun of baking though, and I usually don’t mind, as long as the end results are good. For this particular recipe, the hardest part would be the three different types of salted caramels. It’s not like you could even make one batch and divide them into three. No. Each caramel is made slightly differently, with a different texture to each.
In case you can’t tell, the hardest caramel for me to make would be the candied decorations. The other two turned out wonderfully (although I had a lot extra for the filling, maybe because I didn’t make big enough holes) but this was the first time I made a hard caramel candy, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I also didn’t have cream of tartar handy, so that may have adversely affected the texture. I also had a lot of trouble swirling them into patterns because the caramel was setting pretty hard. But my biggest problem was getting them off the paper. They seemed hard and set enough already, but trying to pull them off just tore the paper.
So I just left them alone and took the pictures – only to find out that they peel off easy enough once they are *properly* cool and set. So yeah, word of advice. Leave the caramel decorations to harden properly before doing anything with them. Or you can just drizzle extra caramel filling over the frosting. I had a lot left over. Nicely though, the frosting was just enough to cover 15 cupcakes. (Also, if my cupcakes look a bit shallow, it’s because I had used expired baking powder – and they didn’t rise)
Anyway, in the end, I found these cupcakes to be too much work with just a so-so taste. The frosting was not as good as the Swiss meringue buttercream in my favourite cupcake recipe. Neither is the filling. That chocolate cupcake recipe is almost perfect, it’s an almost unfair comparison. Oh well. These were still a nice change.