Today's experiment is salted caramel mini chocolate cupcakes. These are mini chocolate cupcakes with a salted caramel filling, topped with dark chocolate salted caramel frosting.
The result turned out to be really yummy! =)
I adapted the recipe from here.
Using a mini muffin tray, I made 48 mini cupcakes with enough batter leftover for 4 madeleines.
Alternatively this recipe yields 21 regular cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli cocoa powder)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (I made this by adding 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar to 1 cup milk)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup warm water
For the salted caramel filling:
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt, preferably Fleur de Sel
For the dark chocolate salted caramel frosting: (almost similar to before, with a caramel twist)
- 1/8 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/8 cup boiling water
- 3/4 cups / 1.5 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup confectioners’/icing/powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 227 grams good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips, found in Whole Foods)
- A sufficient amount of the salted caramel, from above, to your liking
Making the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Line mini muffin tray with paper liners.
- Mix together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In another bowl, mix together eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in and mix until smooth and combined. Do not over-mix, to avoid a dense cake.
- Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full.
- Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. (If you're making normal-sized cupcakes, baking time will be 13-15 minutes)
- Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. (Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.)
- Make the salted caramel. While waiting for the caramel to form, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about half-way deep into the cupcake) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the narrower tip part. Keep the wider top part of the cone as a breadbowl-like cover over the caramel filling (see photos below for example).
|Hollowed out cupcakes. The small pieces at the sides are the remaining top "breadbowl" covers|
|Sticking the breadbowl covers onto their respective cupcakes|
Making the salted caramel filling:
- Heat sugar with the water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
- 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 just reaches 360°F.
- Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Be careful! Adding cream can cause the whole mixture to bubble!
- Stir in sea salt.
- Let cool for about 15 minutes; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.
- Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm caramel into each hollowed-out cupcake. The caramel will slightly sink into the cupcake – just add a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.
- Cover the filling with the breadbowl-like cake cover from before.
- Use the leftover caramel for the frosting.
|Caramel filling inside the cupcake|
Making the dark chocolate salted caramel frosting:
- Combine cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and stir until it cocoa has dissolved.
- Beat the butter, the icing sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy–about 5 minutes.
- Reduce mixer speed to low, and add melted chocolate (cooled! If not the butter will melt), beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated.
Pour the frosting into a piping bag (I used a ziploc bag and cut a small hole in the corner), and decorate the cupcakes!
This recipe was really easy to follow, with a minimal number of steps.
On an non-baking related note, life can be quite funny/coincidental sometimes. I was at Boudin Bakery in San Francisco on Saturday to try their clam chowder breadbowl and watched the staff make the breadbowls. That very observation helped me make my hollowed-out cupcakes today, all I had to do was recall what I saw over the weekend, and repeat on a smaller scale!
Also, as I was baking, the whole ritual of following instructions and measuring out precise quantities felt very similar to doing experiments in the lab. In fact, I was reminded of one of my first research internships, when the professor asked me if I cooked, since doing experiments was just like cooking. Very true. I wonder if my general ease with experiments has been aided by my intuition in the kitchen, or even vice versa. Either way, I'm glad to be good at both, if not I wouldn't know what to do with my hands half the time :)