Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sweet for my Daring Bakers - Caramel Cupcakes with Caramelized Butter Frosting!


The last few Daring Bakers challenges had involved yeast but this month we are back to the basics of baking. November's challenge or should I say a choice of two challenges allows Daring Bakers to pick one or the other.

The first option is the signature Caramel Cake from Shuna Fish Lydon of Egg Beater. The second option is Alice Medrich's Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. Taking the helm to host this month's challenge is Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity with assistance from Alex of Blondie and Brownie and Jenny of Foray into Food

When I read the posting in the Daring Baker's forum, I immediately knew that I would opt to do the first option which is the Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. This is simply because I don't fancy caramels at all. I also had no idea what a caramel cake tasted like but the mere name itself conjured up images of a sweet delicious cake. And indeed it was such and having read the comments from other Daring Bakers who had earlier attempted the cake, I decided to reduce the amount of sugar stated in the original recipe. So instead of using the original 1 and 1/4 cups, I cut this down to about slightly less than 1 and 1/8 cup and it worked.


Instead of baking this as a cake, I decided to work it into a cupcake version instead. This gave me 15 full size cupcakes and the baking time was shorten to about 24 minutes. These were made over a Friday night and I then packed the cupcakes into an airtight container. The next morning I made the caramelized frosting to go with this treat. I halfed the frosting recipe which gave me more than enough to cover all 15 cupcakes. And guess what, I could not resist tasting one immediately after I had frosted them. It was delicious! Surprisingly the frosting with an extra pinch of sea salt paired very well with the cupcakes. I could taste a bit of the salt in-between mouthfuls of cake and frosting. That very afternoon itself my husband and I had planned to go out. He had to drop by at one of his client's home and I decided to pack some of the cupcakes for them. The remaining cupcakes were taken to office and quickly distributed. I even treated myself again by indulging in another 2 more cupcakes the next day (oh dear .. there goes my waistline) and the cake texture was still very moist (even after being in the fridge for 3 nights).

Opps ... nearly forgot to mention that I also had left over caramel syrup which was used to make a peanut sesame brittle, great snacks in front of the telly (check out the top tray of the above cake platter)! This is one recipe which I'm going to bookmark for another time! Gals, many thanks for picking such a winner!


Caramel Cupcakes with Caramelized Butter Frosting
(Makes a 9" cake or 15 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

142g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 350F or 176C

2) Butter one tall (2 – 2.5" deep) 9-inch cake pan (or line 12 cupcake pan with paper liners)

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

4) Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

5) Sift flour and baking powder.

6) Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

7) Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan (If making cupcakes, scoop the batter into cupcake liners about 3/4 full. The batter results in a pretty flat cupcake, not the dome shape kind)

8) Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. (For cupcakes bake about 24 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle)

9) Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramel Syrup

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

Method:

1) In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

2) When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. (You could also tear a piece of foil and cover the to of the saucepan leaving a small gap to enable you to pour in the water. The foil will prevent the caramel from sputtering out)

3) Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

Caramelized Butter Frosting

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Method:

1) Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

2) Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

3) In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

4) If you are doing cupcakes, you can half the recipe as it will give you sufficient frosting to cover all cupcakes.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.


32 comments:

A little about me ... said...

Jo, wow your photography skills is awesome. Beautiful blog you have got.

My Food Safari said...

Jo, your cupcakes look beautiful. Love the decoration.

Passionate About Baking said...

Pretty all the way Jo...they are gorgeous, the little cupcakes. Indulgent!!!

Shaheen @ Ambrosia said...

I did cupcakes too! You're look very cute.

Angela said...

Your cupcakes are beautiful, Jo! I'm loving your food styling/photography.

Steph said...

Your cupcakes look amazing! You did such a wonderful job decorating them. Peanut brittle is better than caramels for sure!!

Sugar Chef said...

Love your cupcakes and your brittle too.
good job!!

Natashya said...

Beautiful little cupcakes, I love the little sugar decorations.

madcap said...

I'm having a slight blogger glitch, so I hope my post shows up :) Your cupcakes are gorgeous! I will be making cupcakes myself next time, as well as reducing the sugar - sugar shock pretty much sums it up.

Eat4Fun said...

Great looking cupcakes with those cute little decorations! I thought I would use any leftover syrup for brittle, but I ended up pouring it over the cake to hide my goofs... lol! Great job!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Gorgeous cupcakes! They're so elegant! And the brittle looks delicious too, that was a great idea!

Jo said...

gorgeous Jo... really pretty. Yummy looking too :)

Dana McCauley said...

Peanut sesame brittle was a great idea. I added whipping cream to my left over caramel and made a dessert sauce that my son has been putting on ice cream.

Leslie said...

Everything look GREAT! I wish I would have reduced the amount of sugar as well. But is still didnt stop me from eating and eating and eating!!!!LOL

Elra said...

Oh, what a cute cupcakes!
Well done on this month challenge.

CookiePie said...

Your cupcakes are lovely -- and that brittle sounds fantastic!!

Thip said...

Cute ones, Jo. :)
I like the way you call me in Thai "Khun". :P

Marija said...

Jo, the cupcakes are adorable!

Bumblebutton said...

Beautiful photos and wonderful execution! Bravo!

MeetaK said...

oh yes - cupcakes are such great ideas to make with this cake! looks great!

Pinky said...

After pipping a few thousand cupcake rosettes, it starts to just come naturally :)
Your cupcakes look great though. Did the liner in the last photo come stripped like that? It's so slick looking!

kellypea said...

Very festive cupcakes! I always love sugar decorations -- so elegant. Nice job on this challenge.

Laura Rebecca said...

Your cupcakes are so delicate looking -- so pretty!

Mix said...

Your cupcakes are so pretty!!
Great idea to make peanut brittle too!

Jacque said...

I think these would have made delicious cupcakes. Yours are so sweet, I love your presentation.

Great job!

BitterSweet said...

Wow, such beautiful cupcakes... I really love how you decorated them with fragments of sugar. :)

Jo said...

Hi all, many thanks for dropping in and I so loved reading all your comments.

Hi Pinky, the liners came in this design. I really like them as well.

linda said...

Love your decoration for the cupcakes, especially the molten sugar ones!

Ramya Kiran said...

Wow Jo, your caramel cupcakes looks awesome!! feel like taking one from your pictures. wish i could do that. They're lovely :)

Pearlsofeast said...

Simply awesome Jo, very well captured and done like pro.

Y said...

I love your little cupcakes! They look so delicious :)

Vera said...

Jo, your cupcakes are absolutely perfect!

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