Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Pumpkin Caramel

This is one of those recipes that's been finding it's way into my head in fits and starts.  And, in fact, the first time I made them for the post, I suffered a total cake failure.  I nearly gave up and ran with it, on the grounds that the girls I work with aren't that fussy and would have eaten them anyway.  Then, driving back from the grocery store with more eggs, I had an epiphany about how to fix it.  Which worked fairly well.

The end result is a cinnamon cupcake, with pumpkin caramel filling and a vanilla buttercream.
Fall-themed, and very tasty.  Let's start with the cake.  It's a riff on Billy's Bakery Vanilla Vanilla cupcakes, which were featured on Martha Stewart.  I'm fairly sure they're on her website as well, though I can't currently find them.  Here's my version:

Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes


1/4 c. coconut flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 c. vanilla sugar (plain sugar is fine, I just like the extra oomph)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c. butter, cut into Tbsp-sized pieces
1 c. milk
4 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cupcake pans with paper wrappers.  Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and stir to combine. Add the butter and mix until butter is in small, flour-covered pieces.  In a medium bowl whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour the liquids into the butter-flour mixture and mix on low till combined.  Then turn the mixer up to medium and beat for 3 minutes.  

Fill the cupcake wrappers no more than about 1/2-2/3 full (a scant scoop from a 2 oz disher works pretty well).  Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.  If your oven is too small to fit two pans on one shelf, you'll need to switch them half way through.
Cool completely.  

Once cool, core the cupcakes.  I used a small biscuit/cookie cutter.  The same size I use to cut holes in raised donuts.
Now, make the caramel.  Warning:  This makes a huge vat of caramel, much more than is required for the cupcakes.  You can allow the rest to set in a foil-lined buttered dish and cut into candies or otherwise get creative.  Or you can try to downsize the recipe.  It's currently based on the fact that it uses a can of sweetened condensed milk.  And I hate having partial cans around.  Whereas I use the caramel, usually.

Caramel


1 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients except vanilla.  Cook and stir till combined, turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook until it reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly.  Stir in vanilla.
Fill the cupcakes.  (I found that my little tiny disher - 1 tsp, maybe? - did the job perfectly).  Now, take those cupcake cores and trim them so that you can replace the little hats.  Like so:
Forgive the cupcakes - they were from the first, failed batch.  But you get the idea.
I've tried out a lot of buttercreams in my day.  Swiss, Italian, French, American.  Some have been more successful than others, but I still move forward in my search for the perfect buttercream.  The German Buttercream from BraveTart comes pretty darned close.  I made a 1/2 batch, and found that I had plenty to frost all 24 cupcakes with some left over.
The combination of cupcake, caramel, and buttercream is pretty intense.  And pretty good!  I also suspect that allowing my youngest daughter to partake will require a bath afterward.  But really, could you look at this and resist?




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