In June my office had a little bake-off. And not to brag or anything, I won! These are officially award-winning cupcakes! It's good that I won because I was talking a lot of smack and after tasting all the entries, I began to get worried. The office has some great bakers!
The flavor combination was based on one of our favorite office treats chocolate covered pretzels with toffee pieces. They are available at the local grocery store right by the checkout lanes and are tempting to grab for an afternoon pick me up! Its the type of snack that you grab every time you walk by. I knew the flavor combo would be a winner with my staff to say the least.
Not that I am expert by any means, but I did have a strategy for the bake-off. First, with all the desserts, I wanted mine to be small and easily served. No scooping or presenting here. Second, the flavor combo needed to have a salty/sweet balance and be palatable to a wide range tasters. Finally, my dessert had to be adorable.
Mini cupcakes with a little pretzel on top fit the bill perfectly! The chocolate cake bottom is my favorite because it is moist, tender, and full-proof. The toffee frosting is sweet and smooth. Together the cupcake is tasty and a winner. I would definitely make another batch of these little guys!
Chocolate Toffee Mini Cupcakes
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes
Frosting from The Cookery Wife
Yield - 36 mini cupcakes
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk powder*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/8 cup water*
1/3 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
chocolate covered toffee pretzels for garnish
Cupcakes - Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F. Line the mini cupcake tin with paper liners.
Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, buttermilk powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together on low with the paddle attachment.
Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and water in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the hot coffee slowly until well combined. Turn the mixer to high and beat together for 20 seconds.
Fill cupcakes liners with 1 tablespoon of batter and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.
Turn the cupcakes out of the tin and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Frosting - Add the butter to a small saucepan and melt. Add in the sugar and salt and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil for two minutes stirring the whole time.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and allow the toffee to come back to the boil. Keep whisking. Once brought to the boil, turn off the heat and allow the toffee to cool completely.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the toffee until it becomes a paler brown. Add the powdered sugar in half-cup intervals, whisking in between. Beat in the vanilla and scrape the bowl as needed.
If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate for 10-20 minutes and then re-whisk.
Assembly - Add the frosting to a large piping bag with a star attachment. Pipe a star on each cupcake.
Cut pretzels in half and place half of each pretzel on the cupcake.
If it is summer and your apartment is hot & humid, immediately store in the refrigerator!
*If you do not want to use buttermilk powder, substitute 3/8 cup buttermilk for the powder + water.