So ever since the inception of our lab I have decided that I am birthday cupcake girl! Side note: I make it seem like our lab is ancient and I’ve been there forever when in reality, our little lab has only been up and running for about a year and a half now…
Anyway, I love baking and I love birthdays so I decided to mix the two and make birthday cupcakes for all of my lab members on their birthdays. Of course, as they’ll all tell you, the best part is that everyone gets to share the cupcakes at lab meeting and the leftovers usually reside in the office for those late night workers needing a midnight snack *cough*Chris*cough* 🙂 So I will be periodically adding birthday cupcake posts after each lab member’s birthday
So for the latest birthday, I decided to try my hand at a cupcake from scratch. I haven’t actually made a from-scratch cupcake, or cake for that matter, in years since my last run in with basic baking when I was 9. Needless to say, the cake didn’t turn out well and I have been scared to try again ever since.
Luckily I was in a daring enough mood to try out these delicious looking caramel cupcakes with salted-caramel browned butter frosting.
The recipe seemed pretty straight-forward, of course minus the homemade caramel syrup and the browned butter…I guess that makes the whole recipe, eh?
Surprisingly so, I managed to make it through both of those daunting tasks with little problem, though I will say, when she says add the water carefully to the boiled sugar, do add it carefully because it spatters like crazy, trust me, been there done that! I followed the recipe almost completely to the tee. However, I did reduce the amount of caramel syrup I made (I used only 1 cup of sugar instead of 2 because I was scared to make too much in case I messed up, which thank my lucky stars, I didn’t!)
Overall, the lab loved these cupcakes. Me on the other hand…I didn’t hate them and they did grow on me eventually, they just didn’t turn out like I had envisioned. They are more dense than your average cupcake and definitely very sweet!
Hope you enjoy!
for the caramel syrup:
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water, plus 1 cup for stopping the caramelization process
for the cupcakes:
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup caramel syrup
a splash of vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
for the frosting:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb powdered sugar
4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream
2-4 Tablespoons caramel syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
a pinch of salt
To make the caramel syrup, combine sugar and 1/2 cup water *(I used 1 cup sugar to 1/4 cup water) in a small, heavy saucepan with tall sides. Cook over high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Allow to boil until the sugar is a lovely amber or honey color. Turn off the heat and carefully add the remaining *(I used a 1/2 cup) cup of water. It will sputter like crazy, so wear long sleeves and stand back! When it has stopped sputtering, return to medium heat and stir until smooth. Continue to cook until the mixture has thickened slightly. You can tell it is ready by scooping some up with a spoon, blowing on it until it is cool, and rubbing it between your fingers. It will be sticky. Set aside to cool.
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F and line 18 cupcake tins with paper liners. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Add salt, caramel syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, stirring between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add half the milk. Continue alternating drying ingredients and milk until everything is added; mix until just combined. Divide batter among lined cupcake tins, and bake 18-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, place butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. This takes a long time, so you have to be patient! When the butter is browned, remove from heat a set aside to cool. You can strain the butter if you like, but my favorite thing about this frosting (aside from the out-of-this-world taste!) is the little brown flecks, so I choose to keep them. Pour cooled butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. With the mixer on low, begin adding powdered sugar. When the mixture looks too chunky to take any more sugar, add half of the cream, half of the caramel syrup, the vanilla, and the salt. Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium until smooth. Add more cream and more caramel syrup as desired until the frosting has a thick but spreadable consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes and enjoy!