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I know salted caramel is a fad, but so are the Kardashians and I don’t see those bitches going away any time soon, so as long as the Kardashians continue to be a drain on society, I’m going to continue my love affair with salted caramel. I’m a big fan of the salty/sweet flavor combo. In fact, I’m sort of known around town as the girl who will eat all sorts of odd food combinations and not think anything of it. You know how sometimes you can be in the mood for a certain dish? Yeah, I’m like that, except with a severe case of ADD thrown in. When I’m in the kitchen at night I switch to a different food craving every 3 seconds. “Ooooh, string cheese. Mmmm, Girl Scout cookies. Oh yeah, summer sausage. Yum, orange juice.” This is why I can’t cook on the fly, because if left to my own devices I end up with a dinner entrée that tastes like bananas and ranch dressing. So I usually sit back and let my husband do most of the cooking…it’s just the cross I have to bear.

Of course, now that I’ve blathered on about being bad at cooking without boundaries, I have to admit, for this recipe I kinda made it up as I went along, mainly because I kept changing my mind on what I wanted to do with the salted caramel. I’ll do my best to provide measurements for the filling, but you’re welcome to customize it to your liking. If you don’t want to make the chocolate sauce, then just fill them with the caramel sauce! Also, I know the buttercream recipe sounds like a pain in the ass, but it’s worth it. This buttercream is super silky and not too sweet. And, you can customize it so many different ways depending on what flavors you add to it, chocolate, caramel, mint, strawberry…the possibilities are endless!

And since we’re talking about the Kardashians, and apparently the summer Olympics are happening (who knew?), does anyone else think Bruce Jenner’s face looks like it got a little too close to the Olympic torch?

Now on to something that’s a lot easier on the eyes…

Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Caramel Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream
Yield: 14 cupcakes

Tastefully Simple Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix
¾ cup butter – BROWNED (this and the brown sugar give it the caramel flavor, which pairs nicely with the almond flavor)
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 cup water
OR the salted caramel cupcake recipe of your choosing

Stir pound cake mix with browned butter, brown sugar and water. Using a large cookie scoop, fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full. Bake at 325F for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs on it, and tops are browned. Cupcakes will be dense with a nice chewy crust. After cooling, cut a hole in the center of each one, or use your bismark tip to fill each one with the chocolate caramel sauce. I went the “cut a hole in the middle” route because these cupcakes were dense and I wanted to make sure I loaded them up with the chocolate caramel sauce. Otherwise, why bother, right?

Caramel Sauce:
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt

In a deep saucepan cook sugar over medium high heat stirring constantly for five minutes. Once all sugar is melted continue cooking until it turns a golden amber color. The darker the color, the more bitter it will be, so watch it carefully when it starts to brown. Slowly and carefully pour cream down the side of the pan (it is going to bubble and steam!) Continue stirring until totally smooth. Add the salt and pour into a heat proof container to let cool. Cool completely before adding it to the buttercream frosting!

Chocolate Caramel Filling:
1 cup caramel sauce you just made
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Combine cream, corn syrup and salt in pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then pour over bowl of chopped chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir until chocolate is melted, glossy and smooth. Add chocolate mixture to caramel sauce until desired taste is reached. I kept mine heavier on the caramel side and had a little chocolate sauce left over.

Salted Caramel Buttercream:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Remaining caramel sauce you didn’t mix with the chocolate sauce
Sea salt for garnish

Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, set over a pan of simmering water. Heat the mixture while whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved (to 160F), about 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and mix on high until it’s fluffy and holds stiff peaks. With mixer on medium speed, add salt and butter a few pieces at a time. If frosting looks curdled just keep beating, it will come together! After all the butter is added, crank the sucker up to high and beat for an additional 3-5 minutes until everything is smooth, creamy and fluffy. Using a spatula, gently fold the caramel sauce into the frosting. It’s up to you how much you want to blend the buttercream and caramel. I wanted to leave it looking a little streaky, with parts of pure caramel throughout the rest of the frosting. Frost cupcakes with pastry bag and 1M tip. Going clockwise from the center produces the classic cupcake swirl. Going counter-clockwise from the center produces the blooming rose look. Sprinkle with a little sea salt for garnish.