Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes

I have been wanting to make these babies for awhile now!  Oh my goodness, so worth the work!  The recipe makes a LOT, so make sure you have a crowd.  They are filled with salted caramel and topped with a dark chocolate frosting.  Sprinkle with sea salt if you like.  I did half with sea salt sprinkled on top and half left without...and they were all gone so not sure which people liked better.  That means they must have been good, right?

Here is how you make them:


• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
• 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs
• ¾ cup buttermilk
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¾ cup warm water

Salted Caramel filling
• 2 ½ cups sugar
• ⅔ cup water
• 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
• ¾ cup heavy cream
• 2 ½ teaspoons sea salt

• ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
• ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
• 2 ¼ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
• ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin pans with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water. Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix until smooth.  Fill muffin pans about ⅔ full. Bake about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and set them on wire racks to cool completely.  Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

To make the caramel filling
Heat sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally until syrup is clear. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Stop stirring, and cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed.  Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and temperature just reaches 360°F.  Remove pan from heat. Slowly pour in cream and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt. Use immediately. If caramel begins to harden, reheat gently until pourable.  Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece, about ½-inch deep, from the center of each cupcake. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of warm filling into each cupcake. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.

To make the frosting
Combine cocoa and boiling water. Stir until cocoa has dissolved.  Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add melted and cooled chocolate. Beat until combined. Beat in cocoa mixture.  Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth before using.  Fit a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip (Wilton #18). Fill pastry bag with frosting. Pipe onto cupcakes, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish with a pinch of sea salt.

Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container until ready to serve.

Makes about 56 to 60 mini cupcakes.

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