Chocolate goes with anything. Especially my mouth. I crave chocolate all the time. Chocolate’s best friends are, for me, caramel and peanut butter. These dynamic duos can do no wrong. Having already featured the decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie concotion in a previous post, I figured it was time to devote some attention to chocolate’s golden brown, gooey, sweet companion.
These cupcakes are intense. There is so much chocolatey-ness. I think should have dubbed them TRIPLE chocolate cupcakes, but honestly, I lost track of all the chocolate. Fortunately, the sea salt cuts the sweetness, while the slightly nutty caramel makes for a fine surprise. At first glance, you’d think these cupcakes are just pure chocolate madness, but nestled into a hollow carved out of the cake is a pool of golden caramel that’s topped with a swirl of satiny smooth dark chocolate frosting. These are winners. For sure. That’s why I brought them to an Oscar party. Granted there were only six of us and two dozen cupcakes, but those are my kind of odds.
These cupcakes are all about assembly. So obviously, step one is…bake the cupcakes. Once that’s out of the way, the rest is hands-on and crafty. The recipe is actually intended for mini cupcakes, but that seemed like entirely too much work and way too many cupcakes (if there is such a thing). So I changed to regular big girl sized cupcakes. When the cupcakes have cooled, use a pairing knife to hollow out a little scoop shape that looks like it could hold just the perfect amount of warm caramel.
Now to the frosting. The depth of flavor is so ridiculously overwheming in the most positively delightful way. That is no doubt due to the two different additions of chocolate concotions that are incorporated into the usual frosting staples ie. butter and confectioner’s sugar.
The first is an odd little paste made out of cooca powder and water that had me furrowing my brow until I saw the finished product and had to refrain from sticking my face directly into the bowl. The second dose is pure, unadulterated melted semi-sweet chocolate. Whip these all together and you get the most rich, luscious, silky smooth chocolate frosting you’ve ever seen.
Here’s where things get tricky. Home made caramel stradles the line between baking and candy making. I’d managed a pretty fine specimen of caramel sauce using Ina Garten’s recipe for her turtle sundaes. I figured this would be much the same. Oh no. I blew it. Lacking a candy thermometer, I tried to eyeball the bubbling sugar concotion and used my cellphone call log to judge how long it had been boiling away. It turned into a white bubbly mess that did not resemble the gooey caramel I’d been dreaming of.
So I took the Sandra Lee route (minus the garrish matching kitchen decor) and purchased a perfectly fine jar of pre-made caramel sauce and poured it into my mini cake recepticles. This worked like a charm and no one was the wiser…until I was like, “guys, I ruined the caramel sauce and had to buy it from a store.” Joke’s on me.
And on top of that goes more sea salt! I was a little gun shy about the sea salt because I’d never worked with it before and was worried it would make these sweet confections a little too salty. But it was exquisite. I would even be a little more heavy-handed with the salt next time.