Aug 22, 2010

Caramel All the Way

Caramel Cupcakes

Now, don’t be hatin’, I didn’t mean to do it! I know you’re either gonna love or curse me for these. Sometimes a girl just needs her sugar hit, that’s my excuse for these outrageously good cupcakes and I’m sticking to it. That and the fact it was a rainy day when I baked them and I was bored. Boredom has never been so riveting, lemme tell you that!


Cupcakes are by far my favorite—they’re not too big, not too small, just enough to satisfy those pesky cravings I have now and then. These are light, fluffy and exactly sweet enough. Not to mention they have a hidden surprise: crunchy pieces of hard lemon caramel that become all yummy and soft during baking and give off the exact right amount of lemon flavor to spruce up your cupcake.

I topped them with a simple Dulce de Leche cream cheese frosting because, like the title says, they had to be caramel all the way.

Lemon Caramel:

4 tbsp sugar
zest from 1 big lemon

Cupcakes:

5 oz butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 medium eggs (or 2 large ones)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Frosting:

7 oz cream cheese
6 tbsp dulce de leche
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 oz butter
pinch of salt


Directions:

First things first. Let’s make the lemon caramel. Grate the zest off of one large lemon.
Caramel Cupcakes

Get yourself a piece of parchment/baking paper.

Add 4 tbsp granulated sugar to a pan with a thick bottom. Place over low to medium heat until the sugar starts to melt. When it does, shake the pan around. Do not stir it, only shake the pan, gently. As soon as all the sugar has melted and has a uniform amber-gold color, turn off the heat.
Caramel Cupcakes

Quickly dump the lemon zest in there and stir.
Caramel Cupcakes

Pour the hot lemon caramel (be careful, this stuff can cause nasty burns!) over the parchment paper and spread it out a bit.
Caramel Cupcakes

Let it cool off completely and chop it in tiny pieces. You could also do this with orange zest.
Caramel Cupcakes

The butter, I always use softened salted butter. My baked goods need salt or they taste off to me.
Caramel Cupcakes

Combine the butter with 1/2 a cup + 2 tbsp sugar.
Caramel Cupcakes

I found this can of vanilla sugar and love it so much I doubt I’ll go back to using vanilla extract. You can even see the tiny black vanilla specks!
Caramel Cupcakes

Add 1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) and 1/2 a tsp salt (use 1 tsp salt when using unsalted butter). Whisk until it’s a creamy light and fluffy mass, this should take 4 to 5 minutes.
Caramel Cupcakes

Add 3 medium or 2 pretty large room-temperature eggs. Wait until the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Caramel Cupcakes

Add the baking powder, self-rising flour and whisk or stir until just combined.
Caramel Cupcakes

Finally, add the chopped lemon caramel and give it one last spin.
Caramel Cupcakes

There’s your batter.
Caramel Cupcakes

Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners, fill them 2/3 of the way with batter and bake them in a preheated oven at 350F (175C) for 20 to 22 minutes. Until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Caramel Cupcakes

Time to make the frosting. I should have made my own dulce de leche, mea culpa. But I didn’t. Because seriously, could you resist buying a jar that says “My Grandma”? Nope. Didn’t think so. Forget the fact I was strapped for time. 
Caramel Cupcakes

Use cream cheese with a bite, the firm kind. For us here that’s MonChou. Combine it with the butter, dulce de leche and a pinch of salt. Get it all creamy and fluffy.
Caramel Cupcakes

Add 2 cups confectioners sugar. Start at low-speed or it’ll look like you’re suffering from a bout of crazy dandruff from hell. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Caramel Cupcakes

Optionally you can add some vanilla extract. I didn’t. Put it in the fridge for a while to firm up. If only I could put myself in the fridge for that purpose, they’d have to drag me out by the hair. 
Caramel Cupcakes

Pull the cupcakes out of the oven and let them cool on the rack.
August22-2010-22

Look at what the caramel did! It doesn’t just look great, but it tasted phenomenal. A light caramel flavor with just enough lemon to make it really interesting.
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Pipe the frosting on to the cupcakes. I prefer to use those big Wilton 1M swirls, they’re pretty. Throw in a handful of decoration and you’re all done.
Caramel Cupcakes

They were perfect. I so wish you could smell them! You really should try them soon or you’ll be missing out! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Caramel Cupcakes

Caramel All the Way
Ingredients
    Lemon Caramel:


    4 tbsp sugar
    zest from 1 big lemon


    Cupcakes:


    5 oz salted butter
    1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
    1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
    3 medium eggs (or 2 large ones)
    1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking powder


    Frosting:


    7 oz cream cheese
    6 tbsp dulce de leche
    2 cups confectioners sugar
    2 oz butter
    pinch of salt
Directions
    Grate the zest off of one large lemon and get yourself a piece of parchment/baking paper. Add 4 tbsp granulated sugar to a pan with a thick bottom. Place over low to medium heat until the sugar starts to melt. When it does, shake the pan around. Do not stir it, only shake the pan gently. As soon as all the sugar has melted and has a uniform amber-gold color, turn off the heat.

    Quickly dump the lemon zest in there and stir. Pour the hot lemon caramel (be careful, this stuff can cause nasty burns!) over the parchment paper and spread it out a bit. Let it cool off completely and chop it in tiny pieces. You could also do this with orange zest.

    Combine the soft butter with 1/2 a cup + 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) and 1/2 a tsp butter. Whisk until it’s a creamy light and fluffy mass, this should take 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3 medium or 2 pretty large room-temperature eggs. Wait until the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the baking powder, self-rising flour and whisk until just combined. Add the chopped lemon caramel and give it one last spin.

    Line a muffin tin with paper liners, fill them 2/3 of the way with batter and vake them in a peaheated oven at 350F (175C) until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

    Combine the cream cheeset with the butter, dulce de leche and a pinch of salt. Get it all creamy and fluffy. Add 2 cups confectioners sugar, start at low speed. Put the frosting in the fridge for a while to firm up. Pull the cupcakes out of the oven and let them cool on the rack. Pipe the frosting on to the cupcakes and decorate them.
Meal type: cakes/dessert
Servings: 12
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