Caramel Cupcakes

IMG_2372 My sweet friend Rabia is expecting her second baby and one of the organizers of her baby shower, another long time friend, Nargis, tapped me to supply the cookies and cupcakes for the event! It was such a treat to experiment with new cupcake recipes, challenge myself with making sugar cookies shaped like books (theme was bring a book for baby), and contribute to such a lovely tablescape (made by Nargis!).IMG_2370Instead of doing the usual chocolate/vanilla selection, I decided to try a caramel cupcake recipe that’s been sitting on my shelf for years. It’s from a magazine from Fine Cooking entitled “Celebration Cakes” (that I think I got from a Lowe’s or Home Depot). If you’ve never worked with caramel, it might be a little tricky to get it right. But a little practice with caramel is so worth it for the world of concoctions you can make. The burnt sugar added some wonderful deep notes to the cupcake. And it came out moist and perfectly tender.IMG_2380 Along with the cupcakes, I made sugar cookies in the shape of books by slightly bending my square cookie cutter to a rhombus shape. And, because everything tastes better with chocolate, I applied a chocolate glaze made out of 10 tbsp butter and 10 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips (melted). I did the outline of the book with a ziploc bag with the tip cut. I filled in the “cover” by applying a dollop of the glaze and smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. I applied the “pages” with a simple powdered sugar/milk concoction. And the lettering – traditional buttercream. IMG_2375For the frosting, I used Ina Garten’s cream cheese frosting from her Flower Cupcakes, tinted in blue and pink. Recipe for the caramel cupcakes from Fine Cooking below. Their suggested pairing is a butterscotch frosting. If you’d like for me to share that recipe, just let me know. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F and line a standard muffin pan with liners.
  2. Put 1/3 cup sugar in a shallow skillet and heat over medium high heat. This takes several minutes so while that goes, bring 1/3 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan. Keep warm. Once the sugar starts to melt, swirl it around every once in a while to help it along. Once it becomes a deep amber color, turn off the heat and carefully pour the water into it. It will sizzle so stand back. The caramel will harden so return to a medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the caramel.
  3. Spray a glass measuring cup with non stick spray (I don’t know if this step is necessary, but I did so for good measure). Pour enough of the liquid caramel to a 1/2 cup measure. Let cool until warm.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. In your stand mixer, or in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 to 60 seconds. With the mixer running, slowly add the 3/4 cup sugar. Beat for about 1 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 60 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl, add vanilla and continue beating. Switch to low speed and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Follow up with 1/2 of the liquid caramel. Add another third of the dry ingredients, second half of the caramel, and finally the last third of the dry ingredients.
  5. Divide the batter evenly. I like to use an ice cream scoop for this. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Wait to completely cool before frosting.
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