Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel - An Affair To Remember

Chocolate, salted caramel, toffee......these flavors are fabulous on their own, but most important, like the characters from An Affair To Remember....they were meant to be together!

Who wouldn't want to bite into this beautiful cupcake with all of those fabulous, intense flavors?  I'm drooling just thinking about them!

There are a lot of flavors going on in these cupcakes but is it too much?  No, no it is not. Trust me!  The chocolate cupcake has a mixture of cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate giving it a very rich chocolate flavor.  This is a new recipe for me (I'm always trying different recipes) and I thought it was delicious but I am still in search of my all time favorite chocolate cupcake.  The moistness was there, the flavor was there (the flavor was fabulous), I just want a little more height and airiness!  

These cupcakes are filled with a caramel sauce that is thick and delicious and there is a slight hint of saltiness. 

I used Maldon salt flakes and so there is also the occasional surprise crunch from one of the flakes. Delicious!  If you don't have Maldon salt, you can use your favorite sea salt.  I think that a flake or courser salt would give a better texture but the flavor would definitely still be there with a finer salt.

We all know what my favorite part of the cupcake was.....the swiss meringue buttercream!  Not just my plain buttercream sir, I mixed in some of that gooey salted caramel.  Best buttercream EVER!  Top that off with a bite size toffee bar and a drizzle of some more caramel....PERFECTION!  

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel - An Affair To Remember

The Cupcake: via Cupcake Project
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 ounces of your dark chocolate
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounce) full-fat sour cream
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa powder (natural or dutched will both work with this recipe)
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) room temperature water

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined.  Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined.  Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition.  Mix in water until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. 

Salted Caramel Sauce: Via Two Peas and Their Pod
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes

First, make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Once you start the caramel sauce you have to pay close attention so you don't burn it. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.

Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. If you are new to making caramel, I suggest using a thermometer.

As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted. If the sugar gets stuck to the whisk, you can switch to a wooden spoon.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.

Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large jar and cool to room temperature. Put the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator. Store the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator for about a month.

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream: adapted from
5 large egg whites
11/2 cup sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup caramel sauce

Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.

Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.

Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking-this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add caramel sauce and mix to combine.

Assemble the cupcakes:
Bite size heath bars
Maldon Salt to sprinkle on caramel

Use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces (or eat them all when no one is's your call). Spoon caramel filling into the cupcake. Sprinkle a little more maldon salt on top of the caramel filling.  Frost with buttercream and drizzle with more of the caramel sauce, then decorate with a bite sized heath bar!

Recipe Shared On:
Chocolate, Chocolate, and More - Thursday's Treasures
21st Century Housewife - Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Memories By The Mile
Tumbleweed Contessa - What'd you do this weekend

Friday, August 9, 2013

S'mores Cupcakes

HAPPY S'MORES DAY!!! Ok, I'm a day early (It's really on the 10th)....but I'm so excited!  I LOVE s'mores!

You may have noticed I have a little case of s'mores addiction.  I'm not sure what gave it away....was it my S'mores Cookies?  My S'mores Whoopie Pies?  My S'mores Pop Tarts?  I have even made S'mores brownies but those haven't been photographed and placed on the blog yet.

Maybe I need to find a 12 step program for S'mores to go along with my 12 step program for Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The problem is really not that bad yet, but I can see how it may escalate in the future!  Actually, I'm pretty sure it's not all my fault....I blame the kids.  They are the one's always begging for S'mores!  Yep, that's it, it's the kids fault!

I used Martha Stewart as a guide for these cupcakes, modified a bit, but only to suit my own taste (and possible laziness).  These are delicious with their graham cracker crust, fudgy chocolatey cupcake layer and that super yummy toasted marshmallow frosting on top!  Doesn't really get much better than that!

You can use the kids as an excuse to make these yummy cupcakes, use the National S'mores Day as an excuse, or just admit are making them because S'mores are awesome! 



S'mores Cupcakes adapted from

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Place graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined.  Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Chocolate Cake Layer:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine.

Fill the cooled muffin cups 3/4 with batter and bake for 14 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack.

Marshmallow Frosting:

8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Hershey's Chocolate Squares

Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined.

Transfer marshmallow frosting to a pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choosing.  Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting. Stick a square of Hershey's into each cupcake for decoration and serve immediately.

Recipe Shared on:
Chocolate, Chocolate and More - Thursdays Treasures
Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Love Bakes Good Cakes - All My Bloggy Friends
21st Century Housewife - Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
#CakeFriday Linky Party

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Zucchini Corn Fritters

It's National Zucchini Day and I'm on a quest for the perfect zucchini fritter!  I love zucchini and I'm always looking for new ways to cook them.  About 6 months ago I tried my first zucchini fritter and I fell in love.  Who doesn't love food in pancake form?

I've made them a few times over the months and while I loved them, I was looking for them to have a little something more.  Recently I saw this recipe on from their magazine, it has corn kernals and cornmeal in it, a little extra added texture.  I made my first batch last night.  The recipe called for sauteeing the onion and some garlic and then adding it in, I got lazy and omitted this step and just grated my onion right in with my zucchini.  Feel free to make it either way you like, sometimes easier is just better.

Fried these off in a non stick-pan with a little vegetable oil and topped them with a dollop of sour cream. Super yummy!  Perfect for a nice summer lunch, side dish or light summer dinner.  Next time I may kick it up a notch and add just a tiny bit of finely diced jalepeno pepper to the fritters, add a little lime juice and lime zest to the sour cream.....and....voila!  Perfect recipe! 


Zucchini Corn Fritters adapted from Food Network Magazine

2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, shredded
1/2 cup corn kernals (fresh or frozen) 
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sour Cream, for serving

Wrap the zucchini and onion in a kitchen towel and squeeze the liquid out over kitchen sink, place in a bowl and add the corn kernals.

Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and egg in a large bowl, then stir in the zucchini mixture. Add the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.

Heat about 1/8 inch vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, scoop scant 1/4 cupfuls of the batter into the oil and use the back of the measuring cup to flatten the scoops. Cook until the fritters are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of sour cream. (You can make the fritters up to 2 hours ahead; reheat in a 375 degrees F oven on a rack set on a baking sheet.)

Recipe shared on: