Thursday, August 30, 2012

Salted Caramel on Mocha, Espresso Buttercream Cupcakes - Topped with Macarons

Even though I was pretty sure I knew how to make Salted Caramel, I mean after all isn't it just caramel with salt. I searched the internet for a recipe, stumbling upon what I might say is a pretty kick-ass website by Michael Ruhlman.  He was throwing around names like Ming Tsai and some French guy I can't pronounce. I can only image what's it's like to have friends like that. The only celeb peeps I hang out with and chew the fat are Mr. Tidy Bowl and Mrs. Butterworth. (Or is that Ms. since we are being all formal and everything?)  Not that I'm pissed or anything, because when I ask my friends, they are quick to reply, "Your recipes totally rock!" (Or does syrup always say that?)

Oh yeah you wanted my cupcake recipe. Sorry I was feeling the effects of all the sugar and caffeine in these cupcakes and lost my train of though. Don't be alarmed, it happens often, just ask my children. They would love nothing more than to share that and a whole myriad of faux-pas of mine. All it takes is for company to come over and the "remember when Mom did" starts to flying (that is when you slip them a $20 and tell them to get lost).

Mocha Cupcakes
2 cups boiling water
3 teaspoons espresso powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder (Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt 
3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped and melted
2 eggs
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the water to boiling in the microwave in a heat proof measuring cup.  Add the espresso powder to dissolve and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer add sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix on low to combine.

Add melted chocolate, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined.  Slowly pour in the hot coffee liquid and mix until combined.

Pour the batter into a cupcake pan lined with paper liners.  I made 24 big ones and some minis, just cause I was feeling cutesy.  Fill the wrappers a good 3/4 full.  These don't rise too much.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and set aside on a rack to cool.  Don't leave the cupcakes too long in the pan or they will get a bit soggy on the bottom from condensation.

Espresso Buttercream
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Add the butter to a bowl of a mixer and beat until fluffy, a couple of minutes.  Add the powdered sugar, espresso powder and salt and beat on low slowly until starting to incorporate.  Add the cream and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, a couple of minutes.  Set aside.  Buttercream can be left at room temperature if it's not too hot in the house.

Salted Caramel 
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
Pinch Flake Sea Salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Caramel goes really fast, so have everything ready to go.

Place the sugar and water in a small skillet and heat on medium-high heat until the sugar starts to turn an amber color, only takes a couple of minutes.  Don't let it go too long or you will have burned caramel.

Turn the heat off, add a pinch of the sea salt and add the heavy cream, stir with a whisk and let cool before you go taste testing.  I'm not sure if the skin on your tongue will ever grow back if you completely burn it off like that.

And if you aren't completely worn out from reading this recipe yet, I'll give you the Macaron recipe.  But feel free to rip open a box of vanilla wafers, decorate them with food coloring pens and call it a day.  I'm very good at keeping secrets.  

4 egg whites from large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces almond flour
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Beat egg whites and sugar together in a mixer until the whites get stiff.  Set aside.

Combine almond flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl and add a little food color if you want.  Stir the mixture together and make sure there are no lumps.

Fold the egg whites a little at a time into the almond flour mixture.

Place batter into a piping bag with a 1/4" tip or so and pipe round disks onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Leave a little room between the cookies, because they will spread a bit.  Let set up on the cookie sheets for 15 minutes.

Bake in a 300 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so.  The cookies need to dry out; when you can lift them off and they aren't sticking to the paper they are done.

For frosting the cupcakes I like to use a disposable bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.  If you have extra frosting leftover, don't worry I know someone who would be happy to dispose of it for you.




  1. Gina,

    Your cupcakes look and sound amazing. Great minds think alike, I guess, because I'm making salted caramel tomorrow, which will hopefully be posted next week. You beat me to it. I'm not putting macarons on mime though.

    Have a great weekend.

  2. Well Becky I can't wait to be hold your caramel masterpiece. I agree, great minds. Next time I'll call and confer, he he.

  3. My hubby just found the TV remote in the trash...thank goodness none of the kids witnessed that :) Totally my doing :/ What fantastic the mocha and caramel

  4. I never have good luck with caramel. Even though I watch it like a hawk, it always gets too dark. And I love the stuff so much. The cupcakes sound delicious and the cutie at the bottom is proof positive!

  5. :)) My little son would be all over that extra frosting too, haha!
    Those cupcakes are winning, Gina...great recipes! I wish you great Labor Day weekend!

  6. Caramel? I always struggle with it...but when I get it right? Just glorious. And these look delicious. Thank you for sharing with me. And thank you for your kind words and continued support. They mean more to me than I can express! Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. I was wondering about these since you oh so casually alluded to them last week. You and Patty are killing me with deliciousness this afternoon! YUM! Happy weekend, Gina!

  8. Your cupcakes look absolutely beautiful my friend :D
    I love the macaroon topping!

    Choc Chip Uru

  9. Awesomeness!! The title alone turned my head. But, as nice as that first photo is, it's the last one that warmed my heart!!

  10. These cupcakes look simply gorgeous! The coffee buttercream sounds heavenly.

  11. I think I have a pic of my daughter with a piping bag..or was it the bowl? Hey does Santa exist or not, my wife says he doesn't but I don't believe anything she says!

  12. I've never done the salted caramel thing. I hang my head in shame when I say this - it's so trendy! Oh well, one of these days. Of course by the time I get around to it everyone will look at me weird for being so yesterday. Nice post - thank you.

  13. i can see Tiffany trying to get away with the remaining frosting :))
    I love caramel and these cupcakes sound amazing Gina!

  14. Hehehe..You crack me up. This is a mouthful, and I can tell this cupcake is my little heaven. Coffee and Caramel and Choco = Yummy goodness! Love that cute macaron as the decor. Have a wonderful week ahead and I believe it's starting to get cooler now. Take care my friend and hopefully I get to see all of you next year. Hugggggssssss

  15. Lol you're the funniest Gina! You know we share a love for talking, so the day we meet I'm going to feel bad for whomever else is there:) Food trends and name dropping-whatevs, I say that rolling my eyes of course, hehe. Your cupcakes look perfect and that little girl is too cute:)

  16. Hi Gina! You are too funny, I'm reading your blog backwards! and it's a hoot;-) Remember, please, to tell me what kind of flake sea salt or flour de sel...;-) you like to use;-) I have to put some salt in my caramel, maybe lots of salt;-)

    1. Hi Patty,
      I used Maldon flake sea salt, and brand will work though. I'll send you an e-mail.