Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I’m having trouble accepting that summer is over and we’re merely days away from the first day of fall.  My days of tanning frantically so that people stop asking me if I’m sick are over, and I won’t have to worry about being seen in a swimsuit anymore.

…I think I’ll be able to cope with it.  I’ve been really behind on baking due to the never ending list of weekend social, athletic, and work obligations this summer.  Every weekend seemed to present itself with weddings or basketball tournaments (sometimes both), or work events.  Luckily, there was ONE weekend in August where I had time to make something – luckily it also happened to be Kelli‘s birthday potluck with Sho-Yu.  Since she loves all things salted caramel, I whipped up a batch of Salted Caramel Cupcakes.  I found the recipe on Cookies and Cups, who adapted it from The Butch Bakery Cookbook.  I actually did some adapting of my own to the recipe, after making Cookies and Cups’ version of the caramel sauce.  I thought the original recipe left the caramel sauce a bit too watery and not rich enough, so I ended up making a second version of the caramel sauce.  Below is what I’m recommending!

Ingredients:

Caramel Sauce:
    • 10 TBSP butter
    • 2 1/4 C packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 C whole milk
Cupcakes:
    • 1 3/4 C all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 12 TBSP butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 3/4 C whole milk
Caramel Buttercream:
  • 3/4 C reserved caramel sauce
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 4 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • Sea Salt for topping

Directions:

Caramel Sauce:
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the brown sugar for a bit (it won’t melt the way white sugar does), and then add the butter and milk. Bring to a boil.

    Boiling Caramel
    Boiling Caramel
  2. Let mixture until all of the sugar is melted (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.  If you’re finding that the caramel is too liquidy, add more sugar.  Conversely, if you’re finding that the caramel hardens when you dip a spoon and pull it out for a bit, add a little more butter.
Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
  4. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  5. Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
  6. Fill each liner a little more than 1/2 full.  I used a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop but don’t use a full 1/4 cup in each cupcake liner.

    Oven Time!
    Oven Time!
  7. Bake approx 20 minutes until centers are set.
  8. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Caramel Buttercream:
  1. While cupcakes are cooling make the frosting. Combine butter, powdered sugar 3/4 cup prepared (and COOLED) caramel sauce and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together about 2 minutes until creamy.

    Frosting
    Frosting
Constructing Cupcakes:
  1. After cupcakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pierce the tops of cupcakes with a sharp knife or skewer about 10 times. Pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, allowing it to absorb into the holes.

    Caramel Sauce
    Caramel Sauce
  2. Let the cupcakes finish cooling completely and then frost with about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each.  Or you can just pipe the frosting on as I did.

    Large Open Star Frosting Tip
    Large Open Star Frosting Tip
  3. Lightly sprinkle your cupcakes with (coarse or flaked) sea salt.

    With Salt Topping
    With Salt Topping

My two favorite cupcakes are still the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and Samoas Cupcakes, but these were definitely a hit at the party.

Eggnog Cupcakes

We’re officially 6 months away from Christmas, folks.  During one of my recent attempts to catch up on blogging, I realized I still had sweets from Christmas I still hadn’t posted about so I decided to wait til now to post since maybe now we’re a bit closer to the holiday recipe bookmarking season.

I made a batch of Apple Pie cookies for the 2011 Annual Kawasaki Family Christmas party, but wanted to do something a little more holiday-esque for 2012’s.  I never drink eggnog, but I do like eggnog-flavored baked goods.  I combined two recipes to make this version – the cupcake recipe is from A Good Appetite, and the frosting recipe is from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe.  Here’s my combination!

Ingredients
Eggnog Cupcake
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups + 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup eggnog
  • 2 teaspoons of rum (optional)
Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature (don’t use light or low fat)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons eggnog, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Rum, to taste (optional)
 Directions
For eggnog cupcakes:
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 24 mini cupcake tins or 15 regular tins with size appropriate liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter & 1 1/3 cups of sugar together until light & fluffy. Beat in the rum & vanilla. Add the baking powder, salt & 2/3 cup flour, and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 cup eggnog. Then beat in another 2/3 cup flour, followed by the rest of the eggnog & then the rest of the flour.
3. In another bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold (not stir!) 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until completely combined then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter

4. Divide the batter between the cupcake tins, filling each one 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 22 minutes for regular. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes
Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes

5. Cool completely on a rack.

For eggnog cream cheese frosting:
1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth (make sure they are both at room temperature so you do not get lumps in your frosting). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until incorporated. Add vanilla, a pinch of ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons eggnog, add more to taste. Add 1-2 tablespoons of rum if desired. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Fluffy!
Fluffy!
2. Garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg (a cinnamon stick will work too!).
Piping the Mini Cupcakes
Piping the Mini Cupcakes
 My brother was over that day and started hovering over my work station, nearly knocking over my bowl of freshly made frosting.  I of course yelled at him to leave me in peace, and then proceeded to frost the cupcakes one by one, and then sprinkle the nutmeg on top.
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!

Getting nervous that he would tornado into the kitchen and knock over the box of perfect little cupcakes, I put the box in my room until it was time to leave for the party.

Ready for the Party!
Ready for the Party!

And of course, I really didn’t have to worry about my brother because I managed to knock the box over onto its side right before I left for the party.

Failing at Life
Failing at Life

The good news is they didn’t last longer than 10 minutes once they got to the party, regardless of the way they looked.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter “Cookie” Frosting

Yes, I am well behind on updating this!!  I missed the Olympics, the space shuttle Atlantis, and I think the end of the NBA finals. But… better late than never!   (Is there an echo in here?)

I made these in the beginning of August for Lindsay’s birthday, since her kryptonite is all combinations of chocolate and peanut butter.  I found the inspiration and recipe for these on Annie’s Eats and loved the look of these.  I’d only ever used a spatula or frosting bag on my cupcakes, so I was pretty excited to try making the frosting “patties” – something a little different!

Cake Batter Ingredients!

Instead of using my usual chocolate cupcake recipe, I decided to go with the one from Annie’s Eats.  The fact that it called for hot coffee interested me, as I’d never made chocolate cake with it.  Sour cream, sure.  Guinness, sure.  But never coffee. I used a little over half the coffee I bought and ended up throwing the rest… down my throat. No sense in wasting, right?

I probably over mixed…

The cupcakes turned out a bit flat – maybe I over mixed the batter? Whatever – I’m blaming it on the coffee! Ugh, if only I could Anderson Silva my baked goods, and just win at it whenever I feel like it…

Okay, I admit that was a far stretch, and I’m pretty sure 80% of my 5 readers will have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. But if anyone saw the Bonnar/Silva fight last night (and really, ANY Silva fight), you’ll know what I’m talking about. Spider knows.

Any way, to make the frosting patty stick to the cupcake (and for a little extra chocolate-y oomph), I made a standard ganache to use as “glue”.

Ganache Layer Atop Each Cupcake – Now Ready for the Frosting Patties

The frosting recipe was really thick, so that it would A) not melt and B) form cookie-like patties. I really had to be diligent about wiping my hands in between forming every other patty, as the frosting stuck to my hands and would then start sticking to the patties. You can sorta tell which were made with freshly wiped hands and which weren’t…

DONE!

Overall, these cupcakes were a little too rich for my taste, especially with the ganache. However, I tend to veer towards those with lighter, fluffier frosting, and even then I usually end up scraping half or more of it off.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter “Cookie” Frosting

As long as the birthday girl was happy, that’s all I cared about!!  Miss you, Lindsay!!

Off to bed in a hurry. Until next time!

Meatloaf “Cupcakes” with Mashed Potato “Frosting”

During the month of Leslie‘s birthday dinners, my multi-talented culinary musician friend Jason and I decided to collaborate on a home-cooked meal for everyone’s favorite munchkin.  The email chain with Leslie, Jason, Shirley, and I procured us an abundant menu of comfort food.  I picked Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting – a savory dish for a change.

Who Loves Mashed Potatoes?

For the mashed potato “frosting”, I used the recipe from SkinnyTaste.com’s meatloaf cupcake recipe.

MMM Pureed Yukon Potatoes

However, since we were already eating so heartily, I didn’t use SkinnyTaste’s meatloaf recipe.  I defaulted to my favorite Turkey and Quinoa Meatball recipe, since it pretty seamlessly incorporates quinoa and lots of veggies.

Meatloaf Cupcake “Batter”

For the potatoes, Jason did all the prep while I took forever trying to “de-leaf” the sprigs of thyme (un-de-leafable!).  The thyme added some great flavor to the potatoes as well as some color to the otherwise very beige finished product.  We pureed the potatoes in a food processor to ensure a smooth creamy finish when piping.  Yes, I piped the potatoes onto the cupcake.

“Frosting” the Cooked Meatloaf

Jason pretty much owned the roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, and even made a balsamic reduction with brown sugar drizzle to offset the saltiness of the dish.

Jason’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Drizzled With a Balsamic Reduction

Leslie, being the ever-gracious host she is, refused to let us do all the cooking and made yummy almond-crusted tilapia filets and phyllo and prosciutto-wrapped roasted asparagus.  However, Leslie’s eyes started to tear while she was chopping onions, so Tri MacGyver’d an “eye shield” for her.

Tri’s Makeshift Anti-Onion Eye Shield

Jason found a basic creme brulee recipe endorsed by Alton Brown on FoodNetwork.com, so we went with that.  After making this, I was really surprised that a lot of people didn’t know what a vanilla bean looks like and that the pulp of a vanilla bean is what is used in recipes.

De-Beaning a Vanilla Bean!

Leslie suggested adding sliced strawberries to the recipe for some extra pizzazz and color.  Solid recommendation!

Time to Torch!

Everything was set for Leslie’s birthday dinner finale!

Birthday Dinner Party!

Here’s what my first plate (admittedly, of several) looked like!

Phyllo and Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus, Almond Crusted Tilapia, Brussels Sprouts, and Meatloaf Cupcakes

It ended up being my first culinary collabo, and I would say it was a success!  The first of hopefully many to come – and sooner than you think!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I’m absurdly late on this post, but better late than never!

Opportunities for writing have been few and far between, thanks to tourney season, the NBA playoffs (go OKC!), and work bleeding into my free time.

Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder, Guinness, Milk

I wanted to make a little treat for St. Patty’s Day that was different and fun, without turning anyone’s mouth green.  I decided to do another cupcake, this time themed to everyone’s favorite St. Patrick’s Day libation – the Irish Car Bomb – using three different types of liquor.

Cutting Away the Middles

It was a Guinness chocolate cupcake with an Irish whiskey ganache filling, topped with a Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting.

Guess I Could’ve Used a Larger Frosting Tip…

I had a lot of fun baking with alcohol in my last post, and had heard of people using Guinness in chocolate cake recipes so I had to give it a chance.  It was heaven… just HEAVEN!  I finally found my new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe!

Forgot to Buy a Coupler – Ghetto Piping Bag

I got the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker’s blog and didn’t make any modifications.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcake with a Whiskey Ganache and Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting

Here is the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker!

INGREDIENTS:

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 1 C Guinness stout
  • 1 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 C Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • 2 T butter, room temperature
  • 2 T Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:

  • 2 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 C powdered sugar
  • 6 t Bailey’s Irish Cream

DIRECTIONS:

Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling:

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.
  2. Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the Baileys Frosting:

  1. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
  2. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.