Do you agree with the cliche “opposites attract” ? When I think about the couples I know, there are some with very different character traits that have meshed together beautifully. Then, there are other couples I know, that I wonder how in the heck they got together in the first place. Don’t you find that the same is true with some of the ingredients we put together? My current obsession is salted caramel. The salty-sweet combo is a perfect example of “opposites attract”.
I’ve been daydreaming about the chocolate cupcakes that I made for Cupcake Hero for weeks now. Two of my best girlfriends and I decided this was the best chocolate cake recipe on the planet. The Cupcake Hero theme was caramel and I was attempting to make a caramel frappucino in cupcake form. I was thrilled with how they turned out.
Before we officially award the chocolate cupcake with the best cupcake on the planet award, I thought I would bake it again, just to make sure. This time around, I frosted the cupcakes with a salted caramel frosting that I had seen on Gimme Some Oven. This buttercream took an already fabulous cupcake to a whole new level. The frosting requires that you make your own caramel, but do not be afraid. Just follow the directions below, and whatever you do resist the urge to stir. (I’ve posted some pictures below on the right side of the frosting recipe for your reference if you haven’t made home-made caramel before.)
Salt and Caramel are a couple made in heaven, and these cupcakes prove it!
Chocolate Cupcakes (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 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup freshly brewed, caramel flavored hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.
Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in mixer and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet. 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 less than 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Salted Caramel Buttercream (Recipe adapted from CHOW)
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (pic #1). Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes (pic #2). The key is not to stir it.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and add powdered sugar. Mix until well combined (pic. #4). Turn off the mixer, and slowly add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately. *