Friday, January 13, 2012

Salted Caramel Cupcakes--Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Wow, today my blog turns one! I can't believe an entire year has passed since I decided to start a blog of my favorite tried and true recipes. Looking back over this past year, I can already see a huge difference in my blogging abilities, and in my cooking as well. Although most of the recipes I posted, I had already been making for a long time, it's still so amazing to see how my cooking skills, and confidence in the kitchen has grown.
Seriously, 10 years ago, I was an amateur in the kitchen. I knew the basics of cooking, but was no where near where I am today. During this past year, with this blog and my readers as my motivation, I have become exactly who I want to be in the kitchen: fearless. I am no longer afraid to try new cooking and baking techniques, and make up (and share) my own recipes. I was always afraid of trying new things and failing miserably. Now, I know that is all a part of learning and mastering the art of cooking. If I fail, I learn from my mistakes, and either try it again, and/or modify the recipe to what I believe will work.
For this coming year of blogging, I hope to continue on my path of learning, and to further explore more difficult cooking/baking techniques that I have always wanted to master.
Thank you so much to all my friends who read my blog and try my recipes! You are a true inspiration to me!

So, for my first blogiversary, I decided to make myself some special salted caramel cupcakes. My absolute favorite flavor. This recipe is SO, SO good. The cake is a light, sweet brown sugar flavor, the caramel filling is to die for, and the salted caramel buttercream just puts it over the top. So unbelievably delicious. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
(recipe adapted from 52 Kitchen Adventures)
Makes 12-15 cupcakes

Brown Sugar Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt (I used fine)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup, plus 2 T light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup, plus 2 T buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12-15 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and salt, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in the vanilla.
Add half the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix, then add half of the buttermilk, and mix again. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Mix until well incorporated.

Divide the batter among the prepared baking cups, filling 3/4 full. If only making 12, there will be left over batter.
Bake for about 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks.

Salted Caramel Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 T salted butter, cubed
1/4 cup, plus 1 T heavy cream, at room temperature

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar until melted, stirring frequently with a whisk, about 5 minutes. When the sugar turns a deep amber color, add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and then slowly add the heavy cream, whisking until smooth. Let cool and thicken, about 20 minutes or so.

Once caramel is cooled, use a paring knife or large pastry tip to cut out a small round piece out of the top of each cupcake. Pour about 1-2 tsp of filling into each cupcake, and then replace the cake round on top of the caramel.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T water
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp and then add more to your desired taste--I found 3/4 tsp to be the best raitio of sweet and salty for me)
1 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Boil WITHOUT stirring, until it turns amber in color, about 5 minutes (be careful, it will change color quickly).
Remove from the heat and slowly add the heavy cream and vanilla, whisking well, until smooth.
Let cool until barely warm, but still pourable, about 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and salt until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth. Pour in the cooled caramel and mix until light and airy (if the frosting seems runny, then the caramel was too warm when it was added--refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until frosting is stiffer).

Spread or pipe frosting onto the filled cupcakes. Enjoy!!

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