As a person who loves baking and cooking, there are a lot of garbage foods that people don't expect me to like.
McDonald's Quarter Pounders? Get in my face.
Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls? Until someone comes up with a way for me to bake these at home, Little Debbie will get two of my hard-earned dollars the one time a year I allow myself to buy these hydrogenated oil-laden treats.
Cake mix is another one of those processed junk foods that I like...kind of. I love that boxed cake mixes bake up consistently fluffy, moist, and light, but I don't love that they don't taste very strongly of chocolate. They just taste sweet, with a barely discernible chocolate flavor.
These cupcakes have all the wonderful qualities of a cake mix - the light, fluffy texture, the moist crumb, and the ability to stand up to a huge mound of frosting, while also actually tasting like real chocolate.
You can certainly make these as basic chocolate cupcakes, but I made them even better by following Emily's instructions to transform these into Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes. The center of the cupcake gets cored out and filled with salted caramel sauce, and then topped with a rich chocolate ganache, and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. If you've been reading my blog for awhile you're probably aware that I'm a HUGE fan of sweet + salty desserts, and these were absolute perfection.
I brought these over to a friend's house for dinner Friday night, and one of the girls there brought a couple cupcakes home to her husband. I got this message from her on Facebook the next day (B = her husband). Sooo, ladies? Make these for the man in your life this Valentine's Day. Just sayin'...
Here's what you'll need:
For the cupcakes:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot coffee
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup bread flour, spooned and swept (do not use a substitute for bread flour)
Caramel sauce (use salted caramel sauce if you can find it - I know Trader Joe's carries it. If you can't find salted caramel, just mix the regular caramel with a pinch of sea salt or fleur de sel to taste.)
For the frosting:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup (I used dark)
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (do not use chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.
Combine bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee over it. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Whisk until smooth, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the chocolate coffee mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the salt and baking soda, and whisk until combined. Whisk in the sugar until combined, and lastly the bread flour. Do not overmix.
Fill each liner with about 1/4 cup of batter, and bake in preheated oven for 17-19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan for one minute (removing cupcakes from the pan quickly after baking prevents the cupcakes from pulling away from the liners - a common problem with homemade chocolate cupcakes), and then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, mix together the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is very hot. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and pour the cream mixture on top. Let sit for two minutes. Stir until the chocolate has melted (if necessary, add the mixture back into the saucepan to facilitate melting), add the butter, and stir until that melts too. Let the frosting sit for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will firm up as it cools, but depending on the temperature of your kitchen you may need to stick it in the fridge for five minutes to get it to the correct consistency for piping.
When the cupcakes are cool, hollow out the middle of the cupcake using preferred method. You can buy cupcake corers at Target, use a paring knife to carve a hole, use an apple corer, or do what I did and use the wide end of a decorating tip to cut one out. Fill each hole with salted caramel.
Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and try not to eat all 12 at once!
- I used a Wilton 230 tip to core the cupcakes, and an Ateco 869 tip to frost them.
- It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to pipe the frosting onto the cupcake the way I did in the photo. I had a major "duh" moment when I saw Jamie's cupcake frosting video a couple years ago. (See 3 minutes and 39 seconds in)
- I didn't take a photograph of the inside of these cupcakes, because caramel is kind of dark, and you couldn't really see it very well when I cut one in half. I decided it wasn't worth photographing, and then I ate my photography subject. If you want to see a photo of the cupcakes being filled, go take a peek at Emily's blog. She also has instructions for baking these at high altitude!
Source: Adapted from She Makes and Bakes and America's Test Kitchen
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