February 21, 2013

caramel frappuccino cupcakes

We’re having non-stop rains over here in East Coast! So I was looking for something nice but not too heavy for everyone. No, just for me actually. I’m the only young girl in the family who enjoys a cup of hot brewed coffee at home but I’m not a total nerd; I had thoughts of coffee combination so of course it would be with chocolate! And maybe with some caramel didn't hurt either (sadly we don’t have Starbucks here!). Thus, caramel frappuccino cupcakes – mocha cake, topped with whipped cream frosting, filled and drizzled with homemade caramel sauce. They were so divine! And yes, buttermilk is a must recently!

If you ever enjoy sipping from those cups with green logo at Starbucks, these might remind you with their heavenly Signature CF blended creme :)
I saw these cupcakes over at Grin and Bake It then it became more enticing when I saw them in one of my favorite blog too. She did the cupcakes frappe way like Wilton’s and I thought that was a brilliant idea so I did the same! – I took out a chunk of cake, filled it with caramel and hid the evidence with a thin slice of cake and now they won’t tell anyone :) Otherwise just like she said; you can get away with this mound of sweet caramel (or fill them with a little cream will be fantastic too) because the frosting is super light and balances the chocolate and caramel nicely.
No denying, I had several problems when doing the cupcakes which I never had before – First, I used my brown muffin paper cases to well-match them but things turned out a total mess as they were leaking! The batter was way too watery so the liners didn't hold up as their bottoms weren't strong glued (that was so disheartening!). So I had to turn them into my classic muffin liners; they are too big so I ended up cutting off the extra corners. Second, I was not sure if few of my cupcakes overflowed a little in the oven because they were watery or because I filled them too much (but they were ¾ full as usual!) or my old oven had broken? So I turned them into the other oven which I had always used to bake, and they work out. So be sure that you know your oven very well, use cupcake liners that are meant for cupcakes and fill them just halfway.
heavy cream
If you do not intend to fill the cupcakes with a lot of caramel, just make a half batch of it because I got a lot of balance of it. I kept them in a jar and refrigerate so I can used them up next time for cupcakes or as a dipping sauce as well. These cupcakes were literally everything I've ever wanted in cake. But next time I will surely add mine with more coffee powder (or get some espresso for myself), for that extra coffee flavor.  And ohh, the frosting turned out our current favorite too :)

Cappuccino during rainfall anyone?

Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Grin and Bake It

yield: 18 cupcakes

ingredients and directions:

for the cupcakes:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp. of white distilled vinegar to 1 cup of milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed, hot coffee
1 tsp espresso powder

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 18 muffin tins with cupcake liners
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
- Brew the coffee and dissolve the espresso powder in the coffee
- In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla together on medium speed until well combined
- With the mixer on slow speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until only just incorporated
- Add the coffee and stir until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula
- Fill cupcakes liners a little more than halfway (don’t put too much in!), and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean

for the whipped cream frosting:
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Chill a stainless mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 5 minutes (or refrigerator for 20 minutes). - please read notes below
- Once cooled, beat the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form but be careful not to over-beat!
- Add the sugar and vanilla and beat further until incorporated.
- Place frosting in a piping bag with a large round tip and decorate cupcakes as desired

for the easy caramel sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp light corn syrup (it is optional actually, I subs them with 1 tbsp. of regular sugar)
1-1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil briskly for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Cool before placing in a piping bag or plastic squeeze bottle (If you plan to refrigerate before use, make sure to use plastic wrap touching the top layer to help prevent crystallization)
- Once the cupcakes are cooled, use a serrated knife to cut out a small cone-shaped chunk from each cupcake
- Fill with caramel, cover hole with slice of cake, top with frosting, and drizzle more caramel on top (I recommend to you to refrigerate them or they will melt!)


about the whipped cream frosting:
-It’s best to chill your bowl and whisk attachment before whipping the cream for the fastest results, so remember to stick your clean bowl in the freezer for a few minutes after you’re done making the cupcakes.
-The frosting is best used within a few hours of whipping and enjoyed on the same day. Once topped on cupcakes, keep in refrigerator overnight, if necessary. They will become more tasty I promised!
-Whipped Cream Frosting is definitely a little more fickle, so if you’re not feeling 100% sure about it, you can go with the Whipped Frosting (butter & icing sugar based).
-I do not recommend you to use that kind of heavy cream(dairy whipping cream) that I used to make the frosting as it is easily separated when over beaten* (sorry, Anchor) – in other word; get yourself the ‘right’ heavy cream from the baking supplier (I just need to use it up before the expired date lol!)
*If so, do not throw it away, you can make homemade butter and buttermilk from it instead. Read more Here and Here.

about the caramel sauce:
-Only if you are able to – make the sauce right before using it because I found it didn't hold up as I refrigerated it a day before I used them. When I went to warm it up, I found that the layer had crystallized and resulted in a grainy texture throughout.
-If you have to refrigerate it, place plastic wrap right on top of the caramel so that it touches and prevents a crystallized top layer. Or if you’re brave and want to attempt a more traditional caramel sauce, just go for it! – It isn't what we think of as a true caramel sauce, there’s no amber colored sugar or candy thermometers involved, so it’s easier to make. Mine was still delish and pleased myself *wink*

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