Letter B: Butterscotch and Caramel Cupcakes
Mmmmmm. Butterscotch and caramel, two of my favorite flavors! That’s why when I found this recipe (alright, I’ll admit that I have actually made this recipe once before, so that’s how I know it’s sooo good!) I couldn’t wait until the letter C to make it. It was technically labeled caramel cupcakes with butterscotch frosting, but shhhh! So, here it is, my latest blog post!
So it’s been pretty stressful lately. I’ve been making costumes with a few of my friends for the all school play, Guys and Dolls, (it’s pretty chill, you should go see it) and I’ve just been freaking out! Naturally, I decided to make cupcakes. 🙂 I’ve been asking all of my friends, and earlier I had decided to make these butterscotch caramel cupcakes. I’d made them once before and had loved them, but I figured this time I could make them without messing up like I had last time (I kind of burned the caramel and overbaked the cupcakes a bit, but if they were good then, then I figured they’d be even better this time!) When I found the recipe last time, I had spent a while searching for this recipe. I didn’t want a cupcake that had a caramel filling because for some reason, I really just wanted a cupcake with the whole cake having that flavor, and it was surprising hard to find a recipe like that. Finally, I found this one at http://www.food.com/recipe/caramel-cupcakes-with-butterscotch-frosting-187751, and I hope you guys like it!
Butterscotch and Caramel Cupcakes
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar, plus
¾ cup granulated sugar (divided use)
1 1⁄3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners.
Make the caramel: Bring 1/3 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; keep it very hot. Put the 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy-based 8-inch skillet or shallow saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Shake the pan to level the sugar and leave it alone until it’s about half melted. Shake and swirl the pan to help the sugar melt completely. Cook the melted sugar, constantly swirling or stirring with a wooden spoon, until it bubbles and turns a deep reddish caramel color.
Immediately take the pan off the heat and carefully drizzle the boiling water over the caramel. The mixture will sputter. Return the pan to medium heat; stir constantly with the wooden spoon just until the caramel is completely dissolved. Pour the caramel into a heatproof liquid measuring cup. Pour about 1/3 cup water into the empty caramel pan and return to medium heat until very hot, stirring to dissolve any remaining caramel. Spoon enough of this liquid into the measuring cup with the caramel to bring the level up to 1/2 cup. Let cool until warm. (You can make the caramel hours or even a day ahead. When it is cool, cover it and leave it at room temperature.).
Make the cupcakes: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) on medium speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl and beaters. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, on medium speed until the batter is smooth, 30 to 60 seconds after each addition; scrape the bowl each time. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, add the dry ingredients in three installments, alternating with the caramel. Mix only until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. (Use two rounded soup spoons: one to pick up the batter, one to push it off.) Don’t smooth the batter. Bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the tin, set them on the rack and let cool completely.
Spoon a slightly heaping tablespoon of the frosting on top of each cupcake and use the back of the spoon to spread and swirl the frosting. If the frosting starts to stiffen, rewarm it briefly over medium-low heat until it’s spreadable
Holding a cupcake by its liner, dip it into the chopped pecans, if using, turning to coat the frosting thoroughly. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes. Let the frosting set for about 30 minutes before serving.
¼ cup unsalted butter
1⁄3; cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, spooned and leveled
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Melt the butter in a heavy 2-or 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir almost constantly with a wooden spoon. After 2 to 3 minutes, the sugar will melt and smooth out, and the mixture will begin to bubble (it’s all right if it still looks separated at this point). Once this happens, stir constantly for 2 minutes (less if the sugar smells as if it’s burning). Carefully add the 1/4 cup cream and stir constantly for another 2 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly and look smooth and glossy.
Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with the wooden spoon. If the frosting seems a little dry, beat in more cream, a half tablespoon at a time, until frosting is thick, smooth, and spreadable.
I seriously adore these cupcakes! They’re definitely sweeter than the last apple cinnamon cupcakes (https://theamazingbake.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/the-amazing-bake-day-2/), so my mom didn’t like them quite as much, but my brother and I definitely did, as did many of my friends! A few quick notes on the recipe though:
1) if you slightly burn the caramel that goes in the cupcake batter, it’s not a big deal. In the end, all you can taste is the caramel and no burntness! I do recommend that if making a double batch like I did, maybe try making the caramel in two different batches. Otherwise, there is too much sugar that has to melt and the sugar on the bottom of the pan gets burned before the rest can melt.
2) when you bake the cupcakes, make sure you don’t overbake them (sounds obvious, right?). I did the usual insert the toothpick test and for the longest time, the cupcakes in the middle would still come out as if they were underdone. The ones on the outside had been good for a while though, so eventually I just took all of them out anyways. It turns out that the ones in the middle cooked fully while cooling in the pan, and there were no underdone cupcakes, although there were a few that would have been fine with a little less time.
3) just like in most frosting recipes that aren’t originally made to be piped, I had to thicken the icing. I added quite a bit of powdered sugar to the frosting after it had been made so that it would be thick enough. If you pipe it while it’s still warm, the frosting will be nice and soft but it definitely firms up once it cools, which I think is good for the final cupcake (it’s not hard or anything – it just keeps its shape. In fact, I thought the consistency of the frosting was really nice and smooth!).
Also, just to add a little decoration, I decided to make some sugar glass to put on top. This is totally optional, and the sugar glass ends up tasting pretty much like the sweetest candy EVER (being made out of pure sugar!). Here’s the recipe:
Candy sugar glass
1 cup granulated sugar
Butter a cookie or baking sheet. Place the sheet in the refrigerator for a few hours until the sheet cools to the refrigerator’s temperature.
Warm a frying pan over low heat.
Measure out 1 cup of sugar and add the sugar to the pan.
Use a spoon to stir the sugar while it heats. Continue to stir the sugar while it clumps and turns brown. Scrape the sides and bottom of the frying pan regularly so that all the sugar melts at the same time.
Keep heating and stirring the sugar until all clumps have dissolved into a liquid. Turn the heat off as soon as all clumps disappear.
Retrieve the cookie or baking sheet from your refrigerator. Use a spoon to pour the sugar into the sheet. Smooth the surface of the sugar with the spoon.
Let the sugar cool on the sheet. Once the sugar cools completely, peel your new glass off of the cookie sheet, set it on a flat surface and enjoy your edible glass.
*note: this sugar glass cools really quickly once you pour it out! To use it as decoration, once it was cooled, I just broke it up into a bunch of small to medium sized pieces (the one shown in the closeup of the cupcake at the top was probably one of the biggest candies). The instructions say to butter a baking sheet, but I just used a Silpat mat and stuck that in the refrigerator with the sheet; it worked out fine. Also, I made a double batch of cupcakes but only one batch of this sugar glass candy and I still had some pieces left over!
So that’s about it! I hope you like these cupcakes! They’re sweet but have such a nice flavor (I really enjoy sweet desserts and caramel is one of my favorite flavors, so those are two reasons why I, personally, like these cupcakes so much) and I really hope you try them out! (They also freeze super well, so that’s another bit of added incentive.)
See you soon,