You all know that I go a bit nutty around birthdays. I make 3-course meals, bake an inordinate amount, and generally celebrate my friends and family in the best way I know how.
Many of you have already expressed interest in being one of my coworkers simply for the fact that I bake and cook for them all the time. Really, this is because I have no idea how to cook or bake in small amounts, or so I thought.
Since I’m a rather inexperienced baker, I hesitate to reduce recipes because I fear they won’t turn out correctly. I know if I took the time to weigh out ingredients instead of measuring them, I’d have a more consistent result, but let’s face it: I’m lazy. I like throwing things together and having them just “work”, which is why I cook far more often than I bake.
Ok, I’m off topic. Birthdays. Right. So my friend Kristina’s birthday was on Sunday, and Wendy and I had decided that we would bring treats and a gift for her today. Twist my arm to bake treats, right? Kristina has a sweet tooth, so I knew that her baked goods needed to err on the side of sweet. But they couldn’t be boring.
So I went with a classic:
With a bit of…
And just a touch of…
The result? Well, after finding perfect-for-Kristina Eiffel Tower-adorned cupcake wrappers…
Chocolate cupcakes with a salted caramel buttercream frosting. And the best part? I only made 15. Not 100, not 50… just 15 lovely little cupcakes.
Perfectly Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1/2 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1&1/4 cups cake flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
Pre-heat the oven to 350*F. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the boiling water and cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Allow to cool. Add the vanilla to the butter and sugar, beat on high until well-incorporated. Add at this point the egg and mix well. Turn off the mixer and add the flour, baking powder and soda, and turn the mixer on low. Pour in the chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, and mix again for a minute to incorporate all lumps. Scoop into 12-15 prepared cupcake tins and bake about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
After a little bit of online research, I found that a standard powdered sugar and butter buttercream frosting could be flavored with a small amount of liquid flavorings such as berry purees, chocolate, and pretty much whatever else I could think of. So I googled a bit more and found that indeed, I could use liquid caramel to flavor a buttercream. So I went with it…
Salted Caramel Buttercream
Inspired by Gimme Some Oven’s Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 1 1/2 sticks salted butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, warmed
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Place the granulated sugar and water in a small pot on your stovetop, stir gently until the sugar is moistened. Heat the sugar over medium heat until boiling, then boil until a dark amber color. SLOWLY and CAREFULLY add in the cream (start with maybe a tablespoon), stirring constantly. Add in the vanilla and salt; stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Set aside and cool to room temperature. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer) whip the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix until light and smooth. Pour in the cooled caramel, whip on high speed until the caramel is distributed throughout the frosting.
Eat with a spoon. Decorate cake or cupcakes of your choice.
Since these were a gift, they deserved special packaging.
Oh, hello cupcake!
Kristina loved them, as did anyone else who tried them. I’m kicking myself for not making more… but that was the point, right? Smaller batches?
I can’t win