I am continually working on this thing we call follow-through. I am sorry to have been absent for so long. I apologize to my 2-3 followers. A small group but no less important. I’m honored that anyone cares what goes on in my kitchen.
This baking adventure was inspired by a lovely piece of news I received recently that a close girlfriend of mine is getting married. (Get ready guys, it’s starting!). Said friend is doing this wedding on the quick and on the cheap, and as such I am lucky enough to contribute something to the big day…cupcakes! Myself and another friend of the brides will be baking a cake (other friend) and cupcakes (me) for the reception and I could not be more excited. I have three months to prepare and have been given no parameters as of yet, aside from deliciousness. My first test batch came this weekend and already we have a contender. I adapted this recipe from the food network website and it was a lesson in always reading the recipe all the way through before executing. It was downsized from a restaurant version and the quantities in the frosting and ganache were completely insane. Of course I didn’t realize this ahead of time and it turned into quite the debacle, but who am I to complain about leftover caramel sauce, frosting, and chocolate ganache?? So anyway, I made due and it was so crazy worth it I cannot appropriately describe. Without further ado, recipe after the photos…
Fresh from the oven.
Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache filling and caramel buttercream frosting
Adapted very loosely from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/coconut-cupcakes-with-chocolate-ganache-filling-topped-with-caramel-buttercream-frosting-and-toasted-coconut-recipe/index.html
*don’t be like me, read through this whole recipe and plan accordingly for time
For the cupcakes:
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Filling, recipe follows (recommend making a few hours ahead or the day before, the cooling time is a b*tch)
Caramel Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows (again, best make the caramel sauce early)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a regular-size cupcake pan with 18 cupcake liners.
For the cupcakes:
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar, in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Using the mixer with a paddle attachment, or using an electric hand mixer, add oil to the dry ingredients and mix on low until fine crumbs are formed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract and mix on low until combined. Stop and scrape the bowl and paddle, and then mix on medium speed until smooth and uniform (a minute or two).
Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely after baking.
To assemble: core each cupcake with an apple corer or a melon baller to create a pocket for the filling (a small spoon and some chutzpah will also work fine, it doesn’t need to be pretty). If you have a pastry bag, put the ganache filling into it and fill each cupcake (I don’t have pastry bags so I spooned it in gently and that worked fine as well). If the ganache is very soft at room temperature, as mine was, I recommend putting the cupcakes in the fridge for a few minutes at this point so that it temporarily firms up and doesn’t smear and discolor the frosting. When you and the ganache are ready, pipe the caramel buttercream frosting on top of the cupcakes in a circular motion with a pastry bag until completely covered. Or, do like I did and spoon a glob on top of each one and then spread it gently from the center to the outer edges of the cupcake. Once frosted, drizzle with leftover caramel sauce. Devour.
Notes: Don’t you dare discard the cored cake pieces! Reserve them in a small bowl and make your own cake balls as a bite size dessert snack! Directions: mix reserved cake bits with leftover buttercream frosting (you won’t need much, but when I did this I didn’t measure I just added until it “looked right”, probably about 1/2 cup. Mix it with a spoon or your hands until it’s about the texture of cookie dough. Then roll into balls and either dip into leftover ganache, or melt some chocolate in a double-boiler and dip to coat completely. I used the ganache, the only downside being that the ganache doesn’t harden at room temperature, so you can’t really coat the balls, you just dip and refrigerate for a delicious, if messier, treat. Sooooo good!
Chocolate Ganache Filling:
1 cup (8 oz.) semisweet dark chocolate (I used the Baker’s squares)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces unsalted butter
Melt the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Stir the mixture constantly until melted and smooth. Be careful not to burn. Remove from the heat to cool completely. Notes: This will take awhile. You can speed things up in the fridge, or keep it in the fridge overnight if making ahead of time, just know that it will firm up and will need to be (very gently) heated just before you’re ready to use, just enough so that you can stir it easily. It should be about the consistency of chocolate pudding when you fill the cupcakes.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
2 sticks butter
2.5-3 cups powdered sugar (more or less to taste)
1/4 caramel sauce
Stir 4 tablespoons butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla together in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave at 1 minute intervals, stirring between intervals. The caramel will be thick and bubbly when done. Add salt and stir. Let cool completely to incorporate into the buttercream. It might separate a bit, but just stir until uniform when ready to use. Note: This is where I really got screwed when I made these because the original quantities in this recipe were FOUR TIMES what I have listed here. I ended up with about 6 cups of caramel when the frosting only calls for 1/4 cup. But I digress…
In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer with whisk attachment), whip the 2 sticks soft butter until creamed. Add the powdered sugar and 1/4 cup cooled caramel and mix until the ingredients are evenly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and creamy. This frosting is extremely sweet and a little goes a long way, so you’ll probably have extra. Be warned!