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.

Sea-Salted Browned Butter Rice Crispy Wedding Treats

Ok – this is a REALLY late post (like…4+ months late), but Leslie liked the Browned Butter Sea-Salted Rice Crispy Treats I made for her birthday back in March so much, she wanted them to be incorporated into the dessert bar at her wedding too.

300+ Pieces for the Dessert Bar

I took the day off work and cranked these babies out before heading out to the rehearsal dinner the day before her wedding. BOOM.

Browned Butter Sea-Salted Rice Crispy Treats

I went on a baking marathon last week  in preparation for two events – a surprise Sho-Yu baby shower for Crystal and Dave, and a potluck dinner for my best friend Leslie’s birthday.  I’ll delve deeper into the former in my next post, but treats for this post were made with the latter in mind. If my vice is sugar, Leslie’s is salt. I decided on a dessert that incorporated the savory and remembered the rice crispy treats that one of Shirley’s friend’s made for her Super Bowl Party a few weeks ago. When I asked her where she got the recipe from, and she said Smitten Kitchen. I should have known!

Browned Butter and Marshmallow

I ended up burning the butter the first go-around while trying to get a photo of the browned butter.  Everything had to be done really quickly before the ingredients burned or cooled too quickly, so alas there are not many pictures for this post.

Rice Crispy Treats for the Sophisticated Palette

Happy Birthday to my dearest friend of over 20 years! ♥

Six of us got together at Leslie and Tri’s new house for dinner, but we each brought enough food to feed twelve.  Tony made 16+ ounce steaks, and everyone else brought sides.  Leslie had never tried my Apple Pie Cookies, so I whipped up a batch of those to go with the rice crispy treats, as well as what I had made for the shower. And Jason made a huge vat of his famous Sangria to make sure the birthday girl had a lot of fun.  I also came to the conclusion that aside from Corgis which I’ve always loved, not ALL dogs are evil. Leslie and Tri’s very sweet dog has instilled hope!  I still think 90% of them are blood-thirsty biting bastards.

As an aside, I had a bit of a revelation this past week. With the obsessive frequency with which I work out, I wondered aloud at work as to how it could be possible that I was gaining weight. After a few minutes of thinking about what I had been doing differently the last couple of weeks, it hit me:  I need to stop finishing all of my food… and then finishing everyone else’s.

True story.  Time to start exercising some control!

As for the rice crispy treats, they’re pretty easy to make as long as you’re patient with browning the butter.  They have the perfect balance of sweet and savory, making them really addicting!  Yum!