February and March are all about GOLD! Mardi Gras, awards shows and SUNSHINE !! Spring is upon us (well...for most of us anyway) and these fancy and DELICIOUS cupcakes are a perfect way to celebrate whatever it is that you're ... celebrating!
I kicked up my salted caramel buttercream with just a touch of LorAnn Oils Caramel Flavor. This REALLY brought out the sweetness and deep, caramel flavor of the buttercream!
I also believe that one of the keys to successful baking and flavor profiling is BALANCE! Don't forget about the salty crunch! Even though the salted caramel buttercream uses salted butter, it's still VERY sweet. The white chocolate crunch is the PERFECT addition to this recipe by adding texture and balance!
One last tip: Don't forget about the center! Think about your cupcakes from top to bottom, inside and out. I always like to place a surprise in the center, whether its a special filling, a piece of fresh fruit, or in this case, a bit of caramel filled chocolate!
Golden Butter Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Prep Time: 30 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes / Servings: 24 Cupcakes
For the Golden Butter Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat until dark, golden brown, about 5 minutes. It will begin to smell like golden buttery HEAVEN when its done. Run it through a fine-mesh strainer and into a small bowl. Allow it to cool until ready to use.
Sift the flour and baking soda together into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a separate, large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, LorAnn Oils Buttery Sweet Dough baking emulsion and Vanilla Bean Paste. Whisk together until combined and set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.
Slowly mix in the sour cream mixture and the golden butter, scraping down the sides as needed.
Reduce speed to low, and add the dry ingredients in 3-4 batches, mixing only until barely combined. Do not over mix.
Spoon the batter into 24 cupcake size baking cups and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:
In a medium saucepan, add the brown sugar, water and corn syrup. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it comes to a full boil. Allow the bubbling mixture to boil and reduce on medium heat, until the mixture starts to feather (It will have very thin, hair-like strings coming from the spoon). Remove from heat and set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until glossy with stiff peaks.
Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and on SLOW speed, stream in the hot sugar syrup in batches. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature (you may have hardened sugar on the sides or bottom of the bowl, and that's okay...there's still plenty of goodness in there!).
After the mixture has cooled a bit (you don't want it to melt your butter), mix in the butter one stick at a time, vanilla bean paste, caramel flavor and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Continue to mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined, then slowly increase to high speed and beat until the buttercream holds peaks. For a stiffer buttercream, add a second cup of powdered sugar if necessary (just remember to start mixing SLOWLY!).
Try not to eat all the buttercream straight out of the bowl!
For the White Chocolate Crumble:
3/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt (plus a pinch at the end)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 250 degrees (I LOVE doing this recipe in the toaster oven!)
In a large mixing bowl combine, 1/2 cup of the milk powder, all the flour, sugar, salt and corn starch. Whisk to combine. Stir in the melted butter with a spoon until it begins to form large and small chunks.
Place the chunks on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
When the mixture is cooled, break up any large chunks and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of dry milk powder and an additional pinch of sea salt.
Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and stir until completely melted.
Add the melted chips to the baked crumble chunks and stir until the mixture is completely robed in the melted chips. Again, break up any large pieces with your fingers. Refrigerate until the white chocolate is set, stirring about every 5 minutes.
To prepare and finish the cupcakes:
Press the chocolate covered caramel candies into the center of the cupcake, as far down as possible.
Pipe the salted caramel frosting onto the cupcakes using a closed star tip, completely covering any evidence of the chocolate candy (it's a surprise!)
Sprinkle with the white chocolate crumble
Add any additional desired garnishes and/or decorations (see below for suggestions)
Additional optional garnishes pictured :