I am having a really hard time writing the intro for this post because I just keep staring at the picture and thinking of all the ways I could make love to that cupcake. Anyone else getting that?
This week is going to flow a bit differently than the past weeks but keep your shirts on, its still going to be fabulous! First of all, the post should actually be called “Caramel: Caramel Sauce” because that is the base of the recipe and really why we are all here today. But no one wants to look at a picture of a jar of caramel sauce when we have that sexy-beast of a cupcake up there to get us motivated! So sauce first, then cupcake. Lez-do-it!
Why I Love Caramel Sauce:
1. Uh, cause Im ALIVE! If you don’t like caramel sauce then you have either never had the good homemade stuff or you are just one of those people who likes to dislike the stuff everyone else likes just to be different. Fo reel.
2. I am all about food gifts and caramel sauce makes a fantastic food gift! Make a batch, get it in a jar and include a few recipes (like the ones you will find here, hint hint) or suggestions of how they can enjoy it.
3. Its relatively quick and easy to make once you get the hang of it. My first ever batch was a disaster because I was following badly explained instructions and I just didn’t know what to look for. Now I can get a batch done in about 5 mins and with my wonderful instructions, you will too!
4. It’s soooooo versatile. Not only is it going to be the magic ingredient in todays recipe, but it is good for so many other purposes too! Here are just a few examples I have tried: wear it like lipstick, use it like glue, fling spoonfuls at a wall for a quick and modern art piece, pour it on your ice cream, pour it on your spouse, the options are ENDLESS!
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp vegan margarine
1/2 cup coconut milk coffee creamer (or soy or whatever)
How I Do It: Measure out your butter and heavy cream and have them ready to go next to the stove. Put your cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and watch it. When you see the sugar beginning to liquify (usually this happens in the centre first), get your whisk in there and start stirring. The sugar is gonna slowly start clumping and chunking as some of it is liquifying and gluing all the dry stuff together, this is normal! Just keep whisking until its all liquid with no chunks and becomes transparent. You don’t have to whisk anymore after that but instead just swirl the pan around a bit and pay attention to the colour. You are looking for a dark-ish amber-ish colour. This happens fairly quickly after the sugar becomes clear. If you let it get too dark it will go from “oh maybe its done now” to “holy crap I cant see with all this smoke” in like a second. So pick the shade of amber that makes you the happiest and go with it, its not an exact science but you do need to pay attention. If all this colour business is worrying you, I have photos of the process HERE.
Once the amber tone is to your pleasing, add your butter and whisk like crazy. Its going to bubble and spit and then calm down into a smooth, creamy looking caramel (magic!). Count to three and then slowly add your heavy cream, whisking again the whole time. It should now look like a slightly-runnier-then-you-would-like-it sauce. Pour it in a container of some sort and you’re finished!
**the process is the exact same for the dairy free version**
Caramel sauce needs to be stored in the fridge and I’ve read elsewhere thats its good for 2 weeks (though I would suspect its good for much longer, I haven’t tested this). Regardless, once its cooled to at least room temp it is ready to be used for the cupcake! Here is what you will need for that:
1. A dozen chocolate cupcakes made from your favourite recipe. Anything works from your great-great-grandmothers secret ingredient recipe to a doctored mix. If you seriously have no good cake recipes then look here for now and I will post one of my own whenever I get around to it.
2. Dark chocolate for melting. You can use chips or squares or whatever you like (I am so permissible in this post, aren’t I!)
3. Toffee bits! I know from sharing the Toffee Cookie recipe that depending on what country you are from these might not be available. Find something similar if you can or just leave them out.
4. A recipe of Caramel Buttercream, which you will find below (permissible AND generous).
5. Sea salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling.
1 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 recipe caramel sauce (about 1 cup)
**this can also be made dairy free by replacing the butter for vegan margarine and using the dairy free caramel sauce**
How I Do It: Put your butter in a mixer with the whisk attachment and beat the darn out of it. Slow it down and add your powdered sugar and then beat it up some more. Speed it back up again and slowly add the caramel sauce (make sure it is either room temp or cold, do not add warm caramel sauce!), then beat it even more! In fact, just put this video on when you start and by the time its over, consider the buttercream to have been sufficiently beaten.
Now to assemble this sucker: Melt your chocolate in the microwave (20 second intervals with a stir in-between), turn your cupcake upside-down and dunk the top into the chocolate. Let it drip for a second and then turn it rightside up and sit it on the counter. If you tap the cupcake against the counter it smoothes out the chocolate quite nicely, if you need to. While the chocolate is still liquidly, sprinkle the toffee bits on top. Once the chocoalte is solid again (I am never patient enough to wait for the chocolate to firm up so I always stick it in the fridge for a few minutes) pipe a pretty swirl of your caramel buttercream on top! I use a Wilton 1M tip in a 16” featherweight bag, but I have been known to use a ziplock with a hole cut in the corner when necessary. Sprinkle sea salt on the top and you are officially a super-duper gourmet cupcake maker!
So how was that? Do you feel overwhelmed and violated? Or perhaps excited and looking forward to some sweet sweet cupcake lovin’ of your own? Well I hope you are feeling saucy (yesssssss) cause next week we are going play with this caramel wonderment even more…
Im going to go have some alone time now with my inappropriate food thoughts, see you next Thursday for Week 5 of the Caramel series!
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