Sunday, 12 February 2012

Butterscotch Cupcakes with Salty Caramel Frosting

When I was a little girl, caramel was my favorite sweet (my taste for chocolate developed when the hormones started wreaking havoc on my brain a few years later, but that's a whole other story...). My dad used to keep a bunch of tiny little Kraft caramel squares in his car's ashtray, so every time we'd hop in the car, I'd get one. Those were the days.

As usual, any excuse I can get to bake a batch of cupcakes is a good one. But I have to say I was especially pleased when my co-worker Tania selected these as her birthday cupcakes. There is something deliciously nostalgic and indulgent in the rich taste of caramel, and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt totally takes it to another level.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
3/4 cup butterscotch chips, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Coarse salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter, gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at the time, mixing well and scraping the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at the time, beating well after each additions. Beat in the vanilla extract. Gradually mix in the flour mixture with the butter and sugar (about 1/3 of the dry ingredients at the time), adding 1/3 cup of milk along with each additions. Beat until just blended. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Leave the pan to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quarts sauce pan, melt the butter oven medium heat. Stir in brown sugar with whisk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and return to boiling. Remove from the heat; cool until lukewarm, about 30 minutes. Gradually and carefully stir in confectioners sugar until the desired texture and smoothness is reached. Frost the cupcakes with an offset spatula and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

I am a rebel, so I didn't chop my butterscotch chips, and I over-filled my liners a wee bit. Also, I was originally vaguely horrified by the humongous amount of butter that goes in the batter... but I suppose if you can't trust Betty Crocker's "The Big Book of Cupcakes", who can you trust?

Though they tasted good, the frosting was very, very difficult to work with. It was a bit too dense to spread properly and stuck to itself rather than to the cupcakes. I think that I may have left it to cool a bit too long, and that it set prematurely. I did my best, but the result ended up looking like a cupcake Jackson Pollock would have baked. They tasted good but looked very messy. If I am to attempt this recipe again, I will carefully add milk until it is more manageable. After giving the recipe another shot, I discovered that the original instructions contained too much confectioners sugar, and that it was much easier to spread when only 2 to 2 1/2 cups were added to the butter and brown sugar mixture. It still needs to be worked quickly, and can be vigorously stirred from time to time, to keep it malleable.

I was very annoyed, because the first batch of those cupcakes were intended as a gift, and I felt bad that they looked so amateurish. But Tania was an absolute lady about it, and appreciated the effort despite the less-than-photogenic look of her little cakes. Hey, baking is like chemistry, so it goes awry every once on a while. Live and learn!

The second time I made them, they looked much cuter!

So happy birthday, Tania! I am off to find a better caramel buttercream recipe for next year!

No comments:

Post a Comment