Before I go any further into this post, I need to lay this out there:
I. Love. Caramel.
Always have, always will.
When I was little and we would go to the grocery store, they had a candy stand where you could select various candies and put them in a bag for $X/per pound, or for 5 cents a piece, you could just get a few pieces of candy. I, of course, only ever wanted the caramel. Every time we went to the grocery store, I would ask my dad for some change to put in the little tin box to get a few caramel pieces. Usually he just gace me a nickel or a dime, but if I was lucky, he would break out a quarter. Mind you, I had to tell him how many pieces I could get with $0.25, but once I conquered the math challenge, I was rewarded with FIVE WHOLE CARAMELS! If only life was still that simple yet exponentially rewarding…
Another one of my favorite baking blogs is Sprinkle Bakes. I found this recipe for triple salted caramel cupcakes and admittedly I was quite intimidated by it. I had been baking for some time, and had started to venture out into the world of filled cupcakes, pastry creams and gum pastes, but for some reason the thought of making my own caramel really scared the crap out of me…. I just wasn’t ready to try it out yet.
Over the next few weeks, I mulled it over, going back and forth to the recipe, googling other similar recipes to see other people’s blunders they might have been willing to share over the internet. Finally, I decided I was going to make them as a birthday present to my best friend. I figured having something special to make them FOR helps to up the ante and make sure I am extra careful (so that I don’t have to re-do anything over again!).
FIRST OF ALL, let me say……. OH… MY… GOD. These little wonders are basically what I imagine the clouds in heaven tasting like. The saltiness mixewd with the sweet and buttery caramel is the best thing I’ve ever had. I don’t ordinarily eat my cupcakes, however I ate four of these. Four. The caramel, as the website with the recipe says, can truly go from delicious to burnt in about 0.03 seconds. In my case, I over did it a bit on my first try and the caramel had a “toasted marshmallow” flavor to it… luckily, the fact that it is incorporated into the frosting and absorbs into the cupcake as filling helped to mask my over-cooking. I made these a second time a few days later and nailed the sauce and filling perfectly, which, in retrospect, really just made it harder for me not to eat the leftover caramel by itself.
When I made them a second time, I filled the cupcakes, and then waited a bit while they soaked in the cake some, and then topped them off again. It worked well and didn’t drench them or make the cake too soggy (as I hypothesized might happen, but I took the chance anyway ;P).