The theme for Cupcake Hero this month was caramel ~ YUM! Just the word caramel made me reminisce about the caramel frappuccino cupcakes that I created last year. I didn’t want to make the same recipe twice and thought I should be more original… that was until the man at the drive thru said those enticing words, “Would you like to try our new caramel frappe?” ~ Heck yeah! And boy am I glad that I did!
Could it be that some establishment has finally trumped Starbucks? I’m not talking about Coffee Bean or Peet’s… I’m talking Mc Donald’s. Yes, someone behind those golden arches had the crazy idea to start selling fancy coffees, and it worked. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sitting with a friend in those comfy chairs, sipping from those cups with the green logo on them, but for what McDonald’s lacks in ambiance they make up for in the taste and the price (almost half the price of Starbucks). Please don’t burst my bubble by telling me how many calories I’ve inhaled. Really, I don’t want to know!
So, here’ s where my Extreme Kitchen Bake-over comes in, if frappuccinos can get a make-over, so can my frappuccino cupcakes. This time around I started with a new recipe for chocolate cake. I adapted it slightly from Barefoot Contessa, and it was absolutely amazing ~ the best chocolate cake I have made to date. I was actually a bit worried pouring the batter into the cupcake liners. It was so thin and runny. Don’t worry if you make this and find the same thing. The result was an incredibly moist cupcake!
Have you tried the Godiva flavored coffees? It’s at the grocery store and completely lives up to the Godiva name. I added the Godiva caramel coffee to the cake batter to make it frappuccino -esque. This truffle inspired coffee has a great undertone of caramel, and gives the cake part of the cupcake just a smidge of that caramel taste. Once the cupcakes baked and cooled, I filled them with caramel sauce. This time around I did not make the caramel from scratch, but have linked the scratch recipe, previously used, below. I topped off the cupcakes with a whipped cream frosting. You don’t think I would forget the caramel drizzled on top? No way, all of the elements of a frappuccino in cupcake form! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how these taste!. I may have to do another Extreme Home Bake-Over? Hmmm… Do you think Ty Pennington would come over and help me bake it up, or maybe do a little carpentry while I bake them?
Caramel Frappe-Frappuccino Cupcakes
cake recipe (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed, caramel flavored hot coffee
caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought is fine)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into cupcake liners, fill a little more than halfway. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, fill a piping bag, with a medium round tip halfway with caramel sauce. Insert the piping bag halfway into the cupcake and fill with caramel sauce.
Whipped Cream Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream
Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.* Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak. When cupcakes and caramel are cool, pipe or put a dollop of the whipped cream frosting on the cupcakes.
*You can use a hand mixer with beaters, just be sure to whip until you can form peaks in frosting.