Whew, that name is a mouthful. A delicious one!
One of my current favourite flavours is salted caramel. I know, I know, its been done to death but its sooo good!
These decadent chocolate cupcakes are filled with a homemade salted caramel sauce and topped with a salted caramel buttercream. Mmmm.
So, as you might suspect, caramel can be tricky. I burned two batches! That's four cups of sugar down the chute and a whole lot of pot scrubbing. I finally made a good batch by NOT trusting my thermometer but by trusting my eye. My sugar was burning within seconds of colouring and my candy thermometer was not reading the temperature fast enough. Therefore my recipe reflects this less technical yet much less burny approach.
I knew I wanted to make a chocolate macaron for this chocolate cupcake and decided on a port wine ganache because 'A', google told me port was a good pairing for chocolate and caramel, and 'B', I had a bottle in the cupboard.
I really enjoyed planning out the decorations for all of the Paris-inspired cupcakes. Ensuring they would all have different yet complimentary colour stories and styles. For this cupcake I knew I wanted it to have a purple element to offset the rich chocolate brown.
I love using these edible flower petals, they are gorgeous, rustic, imperfect and natural. They also impart a lovely floral scent.
The petals I used are from Epicure Selections, unfortunately this product has been discontinued. I guess I will have to grow my own garden of edible flowers before this jar runs out. First step, obtain a house with a yard. In Vancouver? Oh dear.
The chocolate discs are a super easy and chic decoration. I actually used Candy Melts because I have not attempted the wizardry that is tempering chocolate. Candy Melts are a total cop-out but they honestly don't taste that bad. I only use them for small decorations and would never, ever use them in a recipe, like a ganache, cake or mousse. That would be sad.
To make the chocolate discs melt 10-15 Candy Melts in the microwave at 50% power for about 1 minute and stir to completely melt.
Spoon the melted Candy Melts into a small Ziploc bag, clip a very small hole at one tip and pipe small 1 cm mounds onto a strip of parchment paper.
Lay a second piece of parchment on top of the mounds. Use your finger to press down and spread out the chocolate into even circles. Set aside until hardened, about 20 minutes. Peel back your parchment to reveal your beautiful discs.
For the gold dusting I simply brushed edible gold luster dust onto the discs with a dry paint brush. Easy peasy. It will be extremely helpful if you have a kitchen-specific set of tweezers to pick up the chocolate discs because you will find your fingers may melt these delicate decorations before they reach your cupcake.
Chocolate macaron recipe adapted from Mad about Macarons!
Yield: 60 mini macaron or 40 medium macaron
You will need a digital kitchen scale to make this recipe. They can be found very reasonably, I picked mine up for a whopping $10. I highly suggest the investment, it will open up a whole new world of recipes.
Age your egg whites by sealing the bowl containing your separated egg whites with plastic wrap and punching a few holes for ventilation. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 7 days.
For the Chocolate Macaron
- 150 g egg whites, aged, at room temperature
- 100 g superfine sugar (caster, berry)
- 180 g ground almonds
- 270 g icing sugar (confectioners', powdered)
- 10 g unsweetened dark cocoa powder (callebaut, guittard, cocoa barry)
- Edible dried petals (optional)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoons white corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons port wine
- 4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- Red gel food colouring (optional)
For the Macaron
1. With paper towel wipe down your mixer bowl and whisk attachment with lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of fat, oil or soap. Rinse with water and dry.
2. Line two baking sheets with perfectly flat parchment paper or silicone baking mats if you have them.
3. Place the ground almonds and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse on and off for 30 seconds to incorporate and reduce any large pieces of almond.
4. In a large bowl sift the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder three times or more if your arm is strong enough. Discard any large coarse pieces of ground almonds. If there are a lot of pieces to discard weigh them and replace with more ground almonds. Or alternatively you can grind the coarse almonds in a spice/coffee grinder until they can be sifted.
3. Whisk egg whites (at room temperature) in stand mixer until soft peaks form. While the mixer is running at medium-high speed ("6" on a KitchenAid) sprinkle in sugar a tablespoon at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl to fully incorporate.
4. Whisk on high ("8" on a KitchenAid) until you mixture turns glossy and reaches stiff peak stage.
5. Combine 1/2 of the dry mixture into the egg white mixture. Mix well, there is no need to carefully fold the mixture at this point.
6. Add second 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the bowl and begin your macronnage. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, turn the batter upside down and plop it on the top. Alternate this technique with swiping the batter against the side of the bowl several times and then scraping the side of the bowl and plopping the batter on top. The best way to tell when your batter is ready is by scooping a spoonful of batter and letting it drop back into the bowl. If it slowly drops back into the bowl, lands on the batter in a small mound and slowly sinks back into the batter, then you are done.
7. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain tip. An 804 (1 cm opening) pastry tip will work best but a plain tip size 10 or higher can also be used. Ensure you turn down the top cuff of the bag before filling. This will make the process of filling the bag a lot less messy.
8. On tray, pipe out 2 cm rounds of batter to make mini macaron. For medium macarons pipe to 3 cm in diameter. Leave 4 cm between piped rounds. Lay a dishcloth on your counter and rap the tray firmly against the counter top a few times. Don't be afraid to really give them a BANG! This will help the macaron's peaks sink in. You may need to rap the tray in between piping rows because the macaron can set within a minute. To decorate place dried flower petals onto 30 or half of the piped rounds.
9. Leave trays out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the feet (pieds) to form.
10. While the macaron are setting, preheat your oven to 300° F (150° C). Reduce the temperature to 250° F (120° C) and bake your macaron in the center of the oven, one tray at a time, for about 15 - 20 minutes. Test after 12 minutes. If you touch the top of the macaron and there is a wobble continue baking for 5 - 6 minutes longer until firm. Remove from oven and let cool on trays.
11. Marry up the shells in similar sized pairs, one with petals and one with out. Fill a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the Port Wine Ganache and pipe a small amount into the center of one shell. Place its partner on top, using a circular motion to gently squish filling to but not over the edges of the macaron.
For the Port Wine Ganache
1. Place finely chopped chocolate into a small bowl.
1. In a small pot, bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer over medium heat, stirring with a spatula.
2. Remove cream from heat, add a small amount of red gel food colouring and mix.
3. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Mix until melted. Add port wine and mix. Let cool at room temperature and store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Cake recipe adapted from Sweetapolita
Salted Caramel Sauce recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
Salted Caramel Buttercream recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Yield: 20-24 cupcake or one 2 layer, 8" round cake
You will have about 1/2 cup of salted caramel sauce leftover but I am sure you can solve this dilemma.
For the Chocolate Cake
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (callebaut, guittard, cocoa barry)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup brewed coffee or espresso, warm
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes
For the Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 3 cups icing sugar (confectioners', powdered)
- 3/4 cup salted caramel sauce
For the Chocolate Cake
3. In a 2 cup measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla and whisk to combine.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt. Using the paddle attachment mix on low for 30 seconds.
4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. The batter will be very liquidy.
5. Divide the batter evenly among liners. Batter will reach 2/3 full or just less but do not fear, this batter rises a lot, you will have perfect flat-topped cupcakes. Bake for 15-17 minutes until tops feel stable or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Ensure to not over bake these delicate cakes! Immediately remove cupcakes from muffin pan to cool on racks and let cool completely.
6. Time to fill your cupcake! Using a small pairing knife cut a 3 cm cone out of the top of the cupcake. You want your cone to be fairly deep but not through the bottom of the cake! Fill your cupcake with 1 teaspoon of Salted Caramel Sauce. Cut the bottom tip off the cupcake cone and replace the top of the cupcake.
7. Frost with Salted Caramel Buttercream using desired tip and decorate with your Port Wine Macaron, chocolate disc and 3 Callebaut Crispearls. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator up to 5 days (eaten at room temperature). Best eaten the same day as baked.
For the Salted Caramel Sauce
1. Ensure you have all of your ingredients in place. Making caramel is a fast process so have your butter and cream ready to go by the stove. And be careful!
2. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat in a heavy bottom 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. Continuously stir the sugar as it begins to melt with a wooden spoon or whisk. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil stop stirring. You can swirl the pan to distribute the heat from this point on. Watch for your sugar to turn an amber colour, this can take from 10 seconds to 1 minute depending on the heaviness of your pan.
3. Once the amber colour is reached immediately add the butter and whisk until melted.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and count to three, then very slowly add the cream and continue to whisk until incorporated. A note that when you add the butter and especially the cream the mixture will foam up vigorously, that is why you need to use a larger pan.
5. Add the salt and stir at least 1 minute to incorporate. Let cool 10 minutes and pour into a glass mason jar and let cool at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For the Salted Caramel Buttercream
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 6 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become fluffy and pale.
2. Add icing sugar and mix on low speed until combined, then on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Turn off mixer and add the salted caramel sauce. Beat on low until combined and beat another 3 minutes on medium high until frosting is light and creamy.
3. Best used right away.
Thanks so much for reading! Hope you enjoy these chocolate delights.