Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spinning and Cupcakes

Last weekend we spent four days in Paris on a spur-of-the-moment trip. It was even more beautiful than I'd imagined it would be, and I'm still organizing the pics! More on that in a future post.

Yesterday, I had a few spinning friends over to play (Rachel, Dina, Gina, and Jillian). Most of us have children, and they all kept each-other occupied for a good deal of the time. Most importantly, we created a new spinner! My friend Jillian has been wanting to learn, and her husband is buying her a wheel for Christmas. The get-together was set up in part so that she could try out wheels and get a feel for things.

Here she is, spinning for the very first time, with Rachel's guidance.
Rachel (right) teaching Jillian

It's always interesting to watch other people spin. Similar to watching other people knit -- I always learn something from checking out someone else's technique. (Jillian is actually very happy and excited in this picture, but that's the serious look of deep concentration.)

Dina and Gina.
Dina and Gina

Ever since I started reading the Cupcake Bakeshop blog, I've been looking for an excuse to use one of her recipes (her photographs make me feel like I could just reach out and eat one!). I finally got the chance!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
Chocolate cupcake w/Salted Caramel Frosting

I knew that I would love them, but I wasn't sure how they'd go over with everyone else, especially the children.
Eating Cupcakes
I shouldn't have worried. (Dina's daughter "Nugget" on left, Rachel and "K" on right.)

Topped with a square of salted caramel and a sprinkle of Fleur De Sel
Chocolate cupcake w/Salted Caramel Frosting

I baked up half of Chockylit's recipe which supposedly should have given me only a dozen cupcakes, but even after overfilling the muffin cups (resulting in flat topped confections), I still turned out 15. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten 24 if I'd filled them half-way, like I usually do. Next time I'll make a little more frosting too -- I piped generous swirls out of a plastic bag (Ziploc bag with the corner snipped open), and ran just a little short. Here's the halved recipe that I used -- the only changes are that I've taken out the "gluten free" half of it (full credit to Cupcake Bakeshop):

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting:

18 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3-1/2 ounces (100 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
1-1/2 sticks (171.5 grams) butter
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (222.5 grams) sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (90 grams) flour, all purpose
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Chop the chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add the butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate melts and the butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Measure out the flour, 2 tablespoons cocoa, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt into a small bowl.
5. Transfer the cooled chocolate/butter mixture to the electric mixer and beat for 3 minutes.
6. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 10 seconds between each.
7. Sift the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix to combine.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups only 2/3s full. Bake all the cupcakes at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: If the oven is not hot enough than these cupcakes may over-flow. One way to be safe is to either fill 2/3’s full or another trick I use is to preheat to 375, then drop the heat to 350 once I put the cupcakes in. I also rotate the pans after 15 minutes of baking. It is safe to gently move them at that point and I find the lower back of my oven to be a bit cooler.

Salted Caramel

2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea

1. Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat.
2. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is incorporated.
3. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
5. Do not stir from this point on, but it is important to carefully shake the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn.
6. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
7. *** This is the dangerous part *** Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Wear oven mitts, stand away from the pan, and be careful. The mixture will bubble up significantly.
8. Put the mixture back on the heat, and stir, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
9. Measure 1/2 cup into a Pyrex measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Note: There was a small bit of extra caramel that I poured onto a small plate that I covered in aluminum foil and greased with vegetable oil. I transferred the plate to the freezer for about 30 minutes. I chopped the caramel quickly into squares (its starts to get soft) and topped each cupcake with a square.

Salted Caramel Frosting

1 stick butter
4 ounces or 1/2 package of Philly cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
3. Add 1/2 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
4. Sift powdered sugar a little at a time into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. (Taste as you mix and add more or less to suite your specifications)
5. Chill to thicken up, if needed.

1. Frost cooled cupcakes with a generous amount of frosting.
2. Sprinkle each cupcake with sea, kosher salt, or Fleur De Sel.
3. Top with a caramel candy, homemade or otherwise.


MA said...

OHHHHHHHHH my! Those look so delish! Like something out of a magazine! You're so good, girl. Can't wait to see pics of Pari!! Many hugs, ma

a. susie said...

The cupcakes sound fantastic! I actually have a special chocolate cake recipe that is so good we eat them with just a bit of powdered sugar. But my Dad LOVES, and I can't stress that word strongly enough, a good old fashioned beautiful layered cake. I think the salted caramel frosting would be a great fit for that. Also very apropos for the fall season...

Mom2Zoey said...

That cupcake looks amazing! I want one. I wish I could bake like that. I did finally get my mother in-law to teach me how to make her chocolate chip cookies. At least I can make one yummy thing now. When I made Zoey's birthday cake last year she told me it looked like a potato. It was supposed to be cinderella. If that doesn't tell you how bad I am nothing will. ~A