Saturday, June 15, 2013

Apple Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

I recently joined Pinterest and discovered what a great tool it is for saving off those pictures of things to do, see, make, and taste in a convenient place for later retrieval. I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Salted Caramel Sauce, which I decided to give a try. I was a little skeptical at first as the salted caramel recipe has you heating up just plain sugar until it melts and turns dark amber after which you add butter and cream. Well, let me tell you, the caramel came out amazing.....the best I've ever tasted. Just be sure to closely watch the sugar as it goes from clear to dark amber quite rapidly. UPDATE: I have made the caramel sauce a couple times since and have experienced a problem with the sugars clumping up and not combining with the butter. The recipe has you turning off the burner then adding the butter. I found that it works better if you add the butter with the burner still on, whisking until the butter is incorporated into the sugar, then turn the burner off and add the cream.

After making the salted caramel sauce, I found this yummy looking recipe for Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. I made the cupcakes from this recipe, but since I happened to have some salted caramel sauce on hand already, I decided to slightly alter the buttercream recipe to use my salted caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from Baked Perfection

1/2 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce + some for drizzling over cupcakes

Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

After the cupcakes cool, simply pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and drizzle some salted caramel sauce over the top.....for a creamy, salted caramel bit of heaven!

I did happen to notice that not all baking cups are created equal. The cheaper ones are not grease-proof and don't look so pretty after baking. I will definitely need to invest in some higher quality, grease-proof baking liners in the future.