Thursday, June 7, 2012

Salted Caramel Cupcakes - Life Changing!

Having lived 13 years in New York City, I try to visit as often as possible.  Now that one of my best friends has moved to NYC, I have more reason to visit.  I spent this past Memorial Day in NYC visiting and we had a great time.  

Whenever I'm in the city, I have to visit as many cupcake shops and bakeries as possible. This trip was no exception. A new shop on my list is Georgetown Cupcake in Soho.  I first visited this delightful shop in March and I knew I had to go back on this trip.

The shop is beautiful and offers it's customers some very delicious cupcakes.  On this trip I wanted to try their Red Velvet which is their #1 seller.  Their cupcakes are temptingly displayed and I eyed the Red Velvets.

We perused the cupcake flavors.  My friend selected the Maple cupcake, as he's a Fall flavor kind of guy.  I was ready to order the Red Velvet when all of a sudden the Salted Caramel Cupcake began calling my name.  I was under it's spell...

I ordered the Salted Caramel.  We shared our cupcakes so we could each try both flavors.  We started with the Maple.  It had a delicate Maple flavor and was the perfect combination of cake and frosting. This was one delicious cupcake.  Next came the Salted Caramel. We each bit into our half cupcake. Sheer ecstasy. This was no ordinary cupcake. This cupcake was life changing. A light vanilla cake with a swirl of caramel topped with a salted caramel buttercream and another drizzle of caramel.  This was the best cupcake I have ever eaten at a commercial cupcake shop.  I was in heaven.  We bought another one and devoured that one as quickly as the first. We left the shop and could not stop talking about those Salted Caramel Cupcakes. I was becoming obsessed and started plotting how I could recreate this delicious cupcake once I got home.

When I got home to Utah, I pulled out my copy of "The Cupcake Diaries" by Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne the owners of Georgetown Cupcake.  I had just bought this book before my trip to NYC but hadn't even opened it before I left. I remembered that the book jacket had mentioned Recipes in the book.  
I turned to the Index with my fingers crossed and a prayer on my lips. "Dear Cupcake Gods, please let their Salted Caramel Cupcake and Salted Caramel Buttercream recipes be in this book", I silently whispered. My prayer was answered. The recipe was listed in the Index.  I immediately turned to it in anticipation.  It was all there.  The recipes for the Caramel, the Cupcake and the Buttercream.  I quickly wrote down the recipe ingredients I didn't have on hand.  
My sister's birthday was in a couple of days and her very favorite flavors are Caramel and Butterscotch. This was the perfect cupcake to make for her. The next day I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work to pick up the missing ingredients and headed home to bake these beauties.  These recipes lived up to my memories of that amazing cupcake I devoured in their Soho Shop.  So much so, that I have made these cupcakes twice in three days.  Here are the recipes and photos of my creations.

Georgetown Cupcakes Salted Caramel Cupcakes

For the Caramel
Makes 2 1/2 cups caramel

2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon water
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

Pour the sugar and water into a large saucepan.  Heat on medium high heat and stir constantly until the sugar completely liquefies.  Stir constantly and be careful not to burn the sugar.  After all the sugar has dissolved, add the butter and vanilla extract to the saucepan and mix thoroughly.  Once the butter has melted and the butter and sugar are completely mixed, remove from heat and, using a whisk, slowly whisk in the heavy cream until you reach a beautiful golden brown caramel color. Set aside and let cool and thicken for 5 minutes at room temperature.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes (or longer) to thicken further before using in the cupcake and buttercream recipes and for drizzling on the finished cupcakes.

For the Cupcakes
Makes 24-30 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (cut in half for High Altitude)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup caramel (recipe above)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake pan(s) with paper baking cups, or grease the pan with butter if not using baking cups
2.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.
3.  Cream together the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
4.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
5.  Add the vanilla extract.
6.  Slowly add one third of the dry ingredients followed by one third of the milk.  Mix slowly, and then add another third of the dry ingredients, followed by on third of the milk.  Mix slowly until incorporated.  Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed.  Then, finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients, followed by the last third of the milk.  Mix slowly until fully incorporated.
7.  Add the caramel by hand and mix slowly, swirling it into the batter, but not mixing it in completely.
8.  Using a standard size ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the cupcake pan no more than 2/3 full and bake for 18-21 minutes (start checking at 16 minutes).  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream
Enough to frost 24-30 cupcakes

1 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup caramel (recipe above), plus additional for drizzling on top

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer or to a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, and mix on high speed until light and airy.  Frost cupcakes with your favorite piping tip, drizzle caramel on top of the cupcakes. I added a little extra saltiness with a sprinkle of Fleu De Sel.  Yum!