Do you remember “Glamour Shots”? Those weird photography studios in Midwest shopping malls in the early 90’s? When I was younger I totally wanted to go because they did your hair and make-up and the photos were always strangely airbrushed or photoshopped or something to look like old school Playboy centerfolds and I thought it was the most, well, glamorous thing EVER. (I’m realizing now how creepy this makes 12-year-old-me sound. I wish I could explain.)
My Mom never took me to Glamour Shots (good call, Mom), which is my excuse for using soft-focus so gratuitously here. And again later on in this post.
ANYWAY….I’ve been craving chocolate and salted caramel for quite some time now, and this was my first experiment. I used Martha Stewart’s one bowl recipe for the chocolate cupcakes, which are stupidly easy. The frosting is a traditional ganache, which I flecked with sea salt as glittery as sprinkles. But the star here, friends, is the hidden gem of gooey salty-sweetness inside. (A great metaphor for women, no?) THE CARAMEL!
– 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 2 large eggs
– 3/4 cup warm water
– 3/4 cup buttermilk
– 3 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
– 1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line 12 cupcake tin.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
4. Add the wet ingredients and stir until very smooth, about 3 minutes.
5. Full cups 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a test inserted in center comes out clean.
7. Cool completely before filling or frosting.
– 1 cup water
– 2 cups sugar
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp vanilla
1. Pour water into heavy 2 qt saucepan.
2. Pour the sugar into the middle of the saucepan, trying to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the saucepan.
3. Cover and bring to boil over high heat.
4. In a small saucepan, bring cream and salt to a simmer over medium heat.
5. Uncover and continue boiling until syrup thickens and darkens, about 5-10 minutes. If you use a candy thermometer (I did and love it), boil until 300 degrees.
6.Reduce heat to medium and closely watch the caramel darken a rich amber color, 1-5 minutes or 350 degrees.
6. Remove the caramel from heat, and slowly and CAREFULLY pour the cream in. ***This will result in very large, hot bubbles. To be safe, wear an oven mitt while doing this.
7. Add the vanilla and whisk until smooth.
Cool completely before handling. Keeps in the fridge for a couple weeks, but I doubt it’ll last that long. I have been sneaking spoonfuls of this every day. And night. And now my pants are tight.
– 12 ounces best quality chocolate in the intensity you prefer (I used 72% cacoa), chopped
– 1 cup heavy cream
1. Bring heavy cream to a boil in saucepan.
2. Place chopped chocolate in heat proof bowl.
3. When cream begins to boil, remove and pour over chocolate.
4. Allow to stand for 1 minute, then stir until very smooth.
Let cool before handling.
1. Take a small paring knife and at an angle cut a small circle in the top of the cupcake (like carving a pumpkin…)
2. The removed section should look like a cone. Cut of the bottom portion of it. Feed it to your
dog boyfriend if he’s been well behaved.
4. Fill the little well in the cupcake with caramel. Resist urge to swan dive naked into it.
5. Replace cupcake lid. Giggle at the naughtiness of concealing the treasure…
6. Dollop ganache on top.
7. Sprinkle with fleur de sel (Fancy schmancy sea salt flakes available at Whole Foods and specialty markets for about the cost of your firstborn. But unlike your firstborn, this salt is irreplaceable and never disappoints, so it’s totally worth it.)
I have to confess, I wish these cupcakes were more caramely. I want caramel in every single bite, not just in the middle 3 bites. (More like 5 if you take normal sized bites and not Godzilla bites like me.) So I have decided to recreate this in layer cake form for my book club gathering next week. I will post pictures if I haven’t fallen into a sugar-slump-coma from all this heavy cream and sugar…