When we were in Nashville for Christmas, we stopped by Gigi’s Cupcake Shop. The family tried different flavors, Wedding Cake, Italian Crème, Kentucky Bourbon, but I decided on this Chocolate Salted Caramel one. Ladies, I kid you not, this was hands down, the best cupcake I’ve ever put in my mouth.
I’ve searched the net looking for a similar recipe, and put a few together to come up with my own very similar version. I simplified it a bit by using a dark chocolate cake mix, after all, it’s not about the cake anyway, it’s all about the toppings, and Betty Crocker happens to be a great cook. This recipe is labor intensive enough, make it easy on yourself and just use a mix for the cupcakes.
Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Cake mix, made as per directions on box in lined cupcake pans.
Caramel Filling for Cupcakes:
2-1.2 cups sugar
2.3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2.5 teaspoons sea salt
Heat sugar, water and corn syrup in heavy saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until syrup is clear. Then clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
Now cook without stirring until it comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is carmelized and reaches 360 degrees.
Remove from heat, slowly pour in cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.
Take a knife, cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and discard the cut out piece. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. The caramel will sink into the cupcake, go back and fill with a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to cook without stirring until mixture turns dark amber, this should take six or seven minutes.
Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until completely smooth and let cool.
Beat the butter on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and add powdered sugar. Mix until well combined. Turn off the mixer, and slowly add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.
These cupcakes look best when piped through a bag. Use a swirl (1M tip). If you pipe the cupcakes, it takes a lot more frosting, but that’s what makes them special, so double your recipe and pile them really high with the frosting.
For the finish -
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired.
Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.
Frost the top of the buttercream topped cupcakes with the Ganache, as shown in photograph, and top with a smattering of sea salt.
And there you have it, absolute, total perfection. Not hard to make, just time consuming, and always more fun if made with a girlfriend.
Totally different, totally decadent, completely addictive cupcakes, what more could you ask for…