This is kind of a hard post write and that has little to do with the actual cupcakes. These cupcakes are fantastic by the way! The cake part is dark, moist, and tender, the chocolate ganache in the middle is a highly delicious extra, and the buttercream is smooth, creamy, and has a perfect caramel flavor. This cupcake is the total package, a show-stopper. This is the sort of cupcake you make to impress people and lead them to believe you are a baking genius!
I made these cupcakes for Stacey's going away party. Stacey has been my roommate for five years now and I'm more than a little bit sad that she is moving back to Michigan. When you move to New York at 23 and you don't know anyone, it can be a little bit lonely and a lot scary. Luckily, within a few weeks of living here, Stacey and I had become good enough friends for her to ask me to live with her and her college roommate Ruth. Not having any other options, I accepted!
Five years ago Stacey and I walked the streets of Brooklyn looking for the perfect three bedroom apartment for three brand new teachers. There were many apartments we couldn't afford and the ones we could afford were dumps. Finally we found it, the perfect apartment! After two years of living in the "perfect" apartment, we had lost track of the number of mice we had killed and the rent kept increasing in our "up-and-coming" neighborhood. So the three of us packed up and moved to Park Slope. The rescission really helped our ability to afford the neighborhood!
We've made this apartment our home. No longer are we kids just out of college, just trying to make it, we were here. We finally got big girl furniture and put pictures on the wall. As Ruth says, we've grown up! The past five years has had us crying on the kitchen floor and on the blowup air mattress in the living room. We have gone through infinite bottles of wine and learned the beauty of Seamless Web. We have watched all 6 seasons of Lost and we have most definitely learned how to throw fantastic dinner parties. We have all earned Master's degrees and survived not one, but five years of teaching in New York City schools. We got awesomer and awesomer!
So I sit here at the coffee shop down the street with tears in my eyes because I'm sad things are going to change. It's time for a change, I accept that. Stacey's moving to Michigan to be closer to her family and start a new chapter in her life and I am so proud of her! Somehow the girl who barely knew me and asked me to be her roommate because of a mutual love of ice cream, Harry Potter, and Newfoundland dogs, became one of my best friends. Over the past five years Stacey and Ruth have become the sisters I never had.
Alright, that was an over-emotional outpouring, back to the cupcakes! They are delicious! One taste-tester called them the best she ever had! Yes, I used store-bought caramel. But after the macaron failure earlier in the week, I couldn't take any chances, caramel always gets me down when I try to add it to frosting. You can make homemade caramel sauce if you want, just rub it in! The inside of the cupcake speaks for itself!
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 3/4 sugar 4 eggs 1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used a dark chocolate powder I bought from Sahadi’s, it’s super dark!) 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 1 cup half & half 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Beat together the butter and sugar on low speed for 3-5 minutes until they are well combined. Do NOT beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time on low speed. Scrape the bowl as needed.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt onto wax paper.
- Mix the half & half and vanilla in a measuring cup.
- With the mixer on low speed add the the flour mixture in 4-5 additions with a liquid addition in between. Start and end with the dry ingredients.
- Use a standard ice cream scoop to distribute the batter between lined cupcake pans.
- Bake for 18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely.
Chocolate Ganache 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60%) pinch of Kosher salt 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small sauce pan.
- Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and salt. Let sit for about 30 seconds and then stir to combine.
- Leave the ganache on the counter to cool and stir every so often so it does not harden.
Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream Adapted from Cake Love via The Faux Martha
5 egg whites pinch of Kosher salt 1 1/4 cup superfine sugar 1/4 cup cold water 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 1/3 cup prepared caramel sauce (I used store bought!) 1 tablespoon vanilla
- In a small saucepan mix together the sugar and the water. Heat until the mixture reaches 245 F. Try not to stir, just move the pan a little mix.
- Meanwhile beat the egg whites and salt until they form a stiff meringue.
- Drizzle the sugar syrup into the meringue carefully and confidently as the mixer is whisking on medium speed. Pour the mixture straight into the meringue, not on the side.
- Switch the mixture to high speed and beat for 8-10 minutes or until the bowl is cool to the touch.
- Add in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time while the mixer is running on medium speed. The buttercream may become soft, but just keep beating and it will whip up and become firm.
- Add in the caramel sauce and the vanilla, beat to combine.
- Place the buttercream in a pastry bag with your desired tip.
Assembly Mini chocolate chips Extra caramel sauce
- Use a paring knife to cut a cone out each cupcake. Reserve the cones, do NOT eat them :-)
- Spoon about 1/2-1 tablespoon of ganache into each cone. You want to fill the hollow left by the cone.
- Place the cupcakes into the freezer for about 5 minutes for the ganache to set up.
- Place the cones back into cupcakes.
- Frost a nice swirl of buttercream on the top of each cupcakes.
- Garnish with mini chocolate chips.
- Time to get messy - Dip a fork into the extra caramel sauce and drizzle caramel over the top. You can clean the kitchen counter later!
- Refrigerate until you want to eat them.