Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

About a month ago I was asked to make birthday cupcakes for a sweet and precious little girl.  I didn't hesitate to say yes!  The theme was cowgirl and beyond that I had free reign...even with the flavors.  See, her mom loves my sweets so much she doesn't even bother to give me flavor ideas or recommendations, which normally I'm okay with but at the same time I want to make sure the guest of honor doesn't have any special requests.  After drilling her mom about favorite flavors or special requests and coming up with nothing, my mind starting turning and I started scouring through recipes to find the perfect cake.
I sent emails and texts with different options and still no decisions had been made.  I had countless options and no easy way of narrowing them down.  So, what's a girl to do in a predicament like this?  Well, I turned to my right hand and best helper in the kitchen, my 4 year old son.  I showed him pictures of the options, as well as told him the flavor options and within about 15 seconds the decision had been made!  Chocolate cupcakes, dipped in dark chocolate with salted caramel buttercream.

Isn't it sad that a group of adults sit and struggle over which flavor to choose and within less than a minute a 4 year old can make the decision in the blink of an eye?  But, I'm not complaining, he's never steered me wrong before and I knew he wasn't about to.  This was, of course, one of the most important decisions that needed to be make...because it has to do with cake, and more importantly, birthday cake.
Now that we had the flavors we needed a design.  The birthday girl's mom sent me some ideas of the design she wanted, so after looking over the different pictures I started drawing out a design that included all the elements of each picture she liked.  The end result was a super cute, cowgirl boot cupcake cake.
The cake.  Well, it was delicious too.  I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, Devil's Food, and then topped it with the most creamy and smooth caramel buttercream that has ever touched your lips.  But, there was a hidden layer that added so much to this cupcake.  Before being frosted, the cupcake was dunked in dark chocolate and then sprinkled with heath bits; this not only amped up that chocolate flavor but it also added a little texture that you normally don't get in a cupcake.  The dark chocolate hardened once it cooled, so once your teeth made it through the buttercream you got a slight crunch before making it to the cupcake.  Folks, this is one of the most delicious and indulgent cupcakes I've ever made or sunk my teeth into.  It's a deliciously moist chocolate cake that is bathed in dark chocolate and topped with some of the most silky caramel buttercream you've ever tasted.  So what are you waiting for?  Go make a batch of these puppies now, you won't be sorry!

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Ingredients:

For the cupcakes-
1 Cup boiling water
3/4 Cup good quality unsweetend cocoa powder
1 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp sea salt
2 Cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 Sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Eggs, room temperature
1 Tsp vanilla
3/4 Cup buttermilk
1/2 Cup strong coffee
For the truffles-
1 1/2 Cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1 Tsp butter
2 Tsp vanilla

For the caramel-
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 Cup heavy cream

For the buttercream-
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 recipe (about 1 cup) caramel sauce-recipe above

For assembly-
1 Cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Heath bits
Kosher or Coarse sea salt

Directions:

For the cupcakes-
Preheat oven to 350.  Place cupcake liners in pan and set aside.

In a heat safe bowl combine the boiling water and cocoa and whisk until smooth. Set aside and allow cool completely.

Combine flour, baking soda and sea salt and sift into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer. Turn mixer on medium and beat butter utnil creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the the sugar, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; an additional 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the cooled chocolate and mix until just combined.

Reduce the mixing speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the wet ingredients and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well after each addition, stopping occassionally to scrape down the sides. Once the batter is smooth, remove bowl from the mixer.

Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the caramel-
Measure the butter and cream and set aside.  Pour the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat, watching it carefully.  Once the sugar begins to liquefy, the typically begins in the center, start whisking continuously.  The sugar will begin to clump as the process continues, continue whisking until all the sugar has become a liquid and is clump free and transparent.  Once this has happened, leave the pan over the heat but remove the whisk.  Swirl the sugar occasionally, but watch as the color changes.  Once it reaches a light amber shade, remove from heat, this will happen quickly once the sugar has become a liquid.

Add the butter and whisk vigorously, the mixture will bubble up violently, continue whisking until it's settled.  Now, count slowly to 3, then slowly add the cream, whisking the entire time.  Once it's incorporated, viola.  Carefully pour into a container and refrigerate until ready to use. 

For the buttercream-
Place the butter in a large bowl and beat on high until creamy.  Reduce speed, slowly add the powdered sugar and once it's incorporated, increase the mixing speed and beat an additional 60 seconds.  Continuing to mix on high, slowly add the  COLD caramel sauce.  Continue to mix on high until fluffy and the caramel is incorporated. 

To assemble-
Place the dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted.

Turn the cupcakes upside down and dunk in the melted chocolate.  Turn right side up and sprinkle with heath bits.  Continue process with remaining cupcakes.  Once the chocolate has set, place frosting in a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice ( I used a large star tip) and frost each cupcake and sprinkle with salt.  Continue the process with the remaining cupcakes.

Serve or store in an airtight container.

Recipe source: Devil's Food Cupcakes- Williams-Sonoma via Lynsey Lou's
                         Cupcake idea, caramel sauce and buttercream- Buttercream Couture

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