Week 14: Chocolate salted caramel cupcakes

This was the very first thing I baked, and I like to think the second time I baked this is a nice improvement from the first. The cake and frosting recipe I used here is based from Robicelli’s A Love Story with Cupcakes, which also happens to be one of the very first baking bake I read. The only problem with this recipe is that it makes a whooping 2 dozen cupcakes! Which is a lot of cupcakes, even for someone who is crazy about chocolate and salted caramel. But, good things are meant for sharing, right?

Makes 24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate cake

¾ cup cocoa powder

⅔ cup scalding-hot coffee

⅔ cup buttermilk

⅓ cup canola or grapeseed oil

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

1¾ cups sugar

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter

2 cups powdered sugar

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

¼ cup heavy cream

⅓ cup salted caramel sauce

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To finish

Salted caramel sauce

Chocolate ganache

DIRECTIONS

1) For the chocolate cake, preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two cupcake pans with 24 baking cups.

2) Place the cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and pour the hot coffee over. Mix on low speed until a thick paste forms and the mixture stops steaming, about 1 minute.

3) Increase the mixer speed to medium. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt, and mix lightly with a fork, ensuring the yolks are broken. Slowly pour into the mixer bowl.

4) Stop the mixer, detach the paddle, and scrape the bottom of the bowl well to loosen any caked-on cocoa. Reattach the paddle and turn the mixer to medium, letting it run for 1 minute. Stop the mixer again.

5) Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda and add to the batter. Mix on low speed until just combined. Remove the bowl and paddle and use the paddle to scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring everything is mixed.

6) Scoop the batter into the prepared baking cups, filling them two thirds of the way.

7) Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Let cool completely.

8) For the frosting, beat the butter and mascarpone cheese using the paddle until light and fluffy.

9) Add the powdered sugar, ¼ at a time, until desired sweetness. Remember that the salted caramel sauce will add sweetness, so dial back on the sugar.

10) Then, slowly add the whipping cream until desired thickness is achieved.

11) Finally, add the salted caramel sauce and beat until fluffy.

12) To assemble, using a paring knife, carefully cut out a hole from the top of each cupcake. Fill the cavity with approximately 1 teaspoon of salted caramel sauce, then, put the top of the cake back on.

13) Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the salted caramel buttercream and pipe onto each chocolate cupcake.

14) Finish by drizzling the cake with the reserved salted caramel and the ganache.

The original frosting recipe calls for ½ cup of marshmallow fluff, but since I couldn’t find it in the local supermarkets, I decided to give that a miss. Thankfully, the texture of the buttercream turn out to be quite smooth and the mascarpone helped to make it lighter than an all-butter frosting.

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