February 28, 2010

Recipe: Mini Chocolate-Caramel Cupcakes, Orange Cupcakes

Cupcake creativity was inevitable after crafting cupcakes recipes into a slideshow at work for several days. Luckily, I had an excuse to bake to my heart's desire for an upcoming party. I like that you can eat more varieties of cakes with mini cupcakes, so that's what I made.

1. Caramel-Chocolate Cupcakes (the ones with the chocolate layer)
A more dense pound cupcake is topped with rich chocolate ganache (like a chocolate truffle) and then a caramel buttercream.

2. Orange Cupcakes (the ones without the dark layer)
A moist, fluffy cake is frosted with orange buttercream. The icing's flavor was reminiscent of Sister Shubert's Orange Rolls, which first made me fall in love with orange-flavored desserts.

Caramel-Chocolate Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (8-oz.) container sour cream

8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate

1/4 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beating until blended. Spoon batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into lightly greased miniature muffin pans.

3. Bake at 350° for 13 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

4. Microwave semisweet chocolate and 1/4 cup whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in 2 Tbsp. whipping cream until smooth. Dip tops of cupcakes in chocolate mixture, and let stand until chocolate is set (about 30 minutes). Pipe or spread Caramel Buttercream onto cupcakes. Garnish with flake salt and caramels cut in quarters, if desired.

Yield: Makes 6 dozen miniature cupcakes

Note: To prepare regular-size cupcakes, spoon batter into 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 350ยบ for 22 to 24 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool and decorate as desired. Makes 2 dozen.

Caramel Buttercream

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (3-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar

3 tablespoons milk

15 caramels

1 tablespoon milk


1. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

2. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with 3 Tbsp. milk, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.

3. Melt caramels with 1 Tbsp. milk in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Fold caramel mixture into buttercream, creating swirls. (Do not completely blend.)

Orange Cupcakes

1 3/4 cup cake flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs, separated and whites beaten until stiff

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup orange juice

1 stick of butter, softened

Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Cream these ingredients together thoroughly.

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a separate mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients 1/3 at a time alternating with adding portions of the orange juice to the creamed mixture.

Fold in beaten egg whites. Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 1/2 full.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For Orange Buttercream Frosting, prepare Buttercream Frosting and mix in an additional 2 tablespoons orange zest, or enough to achieve the amount of orange flavor you desire.

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