Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So Tricky!

Never have I put so much work into a cupcake.  Seriously.  My baby sister gave me Martha Stewart's Cupcake book for my birthday this past year.  I haven't really had the opportunity to try much out of it, but I flip through it at least once a week.  Those photos really inspire me to want to bake cupcakes all day and all night.  The only trick is, like many of Martha's recipes, they are complicated!

However, this past Sunday I had some time on my hands.  My husband had left for sunny California for business early that morning and I was due at my sister's for lunch and I was to bring dessert.  (I always bring dessert).  I decided on these Chocolate caramel filled mini cupcakes because my husband hates caramel and everyone else who was to be at my sister's loves it.

I did a quick read through of the recipe.  Ok, I had all of the ingredients. Sweet. (I am notorious for missing one or two things.  The concept of en mise seems to be totally lost on me.)  I figured the recipe would be fairly simple.  Chocolate cupcakes, fill them with homemade caramel sause, frost with really awesome chocolate frosting.  No problem.

For starters, they were mini cupcakes.  Which means a recipe makes like forty million cupcakes.  Since there would only be five us at lunch and my mini muffin tin only held 24 cupcakes, I immediately opted to cut the recipe in half.  The yield ended up being 24 mini cupcakes and 3 regular sized cupcakes.  Halving the cake batter was fine and halving the icing was about perfect, however, halving the caramel left me a little short.  But not to worry, that was not my only problem with the caramel sauce...

I followed the directions for making the caramel pretty much to the letter.  I do not like to do this, I prefer to tinker a bit with recipes, but cooking sugar is a tricky business, so I followed the directions.  I cooked the sugar to the recommended 360 degrees.  I was a little concerned because it kept getting darker and darker and darker and then in an instant, black.  Crud!  Well, I tried to salvage it and poured my cream in anyway.  It lightened up a bit, looking more like caramel.  But it smelled like burnt.  I don't know what possessed me but I then proceeded to pour my burnt caramel into my nicely hollowed out cupcakes.  Then I tried one.  Lo and behold, they tasted like chocolate cupcakes filled with burnt.  Gross.  At this point I had already made the frosting and had it on standby and had no time to make anything else.  What did I do, I dug all of the putrid caramel out of my cupcake shells and started over.  This time I only cooked the caramel sauce to 320 degrees.  It might have been a little light, but it tasted good.  In the end, the cupcakes tasted fine, but they had significantly less cupcake then intended.

Tricky but Tasty Chocolate Caramel filled Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart

Cupcakes:  yield 24 mini and 3 regular cupcakes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (both the soda and powder are reduced from the original recipe, I have an unnatural fear of tasting leavening agents in my baked goods)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/8 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
3/8 cup very warm water (to activate the cocoa)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together dry ingredients and then add the wet ones.  The batter is very runny.  Pour into mini muffin tins.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  Using a paring knife, cut out the middles of the cupcakes to allow room for the caramel.  I found the cupcakes very moist, so I ended up doing a lot of digging.
Caramel Sauce
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream (crucial, without it the caramel will get hard in your cupcake)
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Heat sugar, water, and corn syrup together stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a boil.  Allow to boil undisturbed until temperature reaches 320 degrees.  Remove from heat and stir in the cream and sea salt.  Be careful when adding the cream, the hot boiling sugar likes to bubble up furiously when adding the cold cream.

Spoon caramel sauce into the cupcake cavities.  You may have to go back and top off your cupcakes, because the caramel sauce soaks into the cake which tastes awesome but uses a lot of caramel.  You can also throw some additional sea salt on top of the caramel at this point for more flavor.

Frosting
5 oz milk chocolate,.melted (my family dislikes dark chocolate so I always have to use some milk chocolate)
4.5 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup boiling water
1 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)

Beat together butter and sugar.  Mix together cocoa powder and boiling water.  Add to butter and sugar mixture.  Add melted chocolate.  Be sure that the melted chocolate has had a bit of time to cool, otherwise the frosting will be runny.  Beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.



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