I think all the things we take for granted were discovered out of boredom, not out of necessity. Did we NEED electricity? Nope. Did we NEED phones? Nope. Did we NEED cars? Nope. Did we need Twinkies and Cheetos? Ok, maybe we needed those. I do anyway. Life would be hell without my Cheeto fix. Dipped in hot sauce and/or blue cheese dressing. I know. Strange. But it’s good darn it!
Boredom works in cooking too. Buffalo chicken wings, brownies,
Twinkies , God knows how many things came about because the creator was bored with cooking things the normal way and wanted something different.
Well, today I wanted something different. And while it won’t be as earth shaking as Twinkies or Cheetos cause I mean, really, can ANYTHING match those two, it turned out pretty yummy.
Years and years ago, I learned how to make a Caramel flan. I always got a kick out of how quickly the melted sugar would harden up. Yes, I realize I’m easily amused. But the transformation from a solid to a liquid back to a solid again, albeit one that tasted completely different, was strangely fascinating to me. So for the longest time I had been wanting to play around with caramelized sugar. Not caramel sauce though that ended up in this recipe too… just the sugar. But my worry was wasting a bunch of sugar and it not working. A couple months ago one of my favorite bloggers, Culinary Concoctions By Peabody, did it with
These delicious cookies and since I now knew it could be done, I knew I would be trying it sooner or later.
Today was the day. But I didn’t want cookies. I wanted cupcakes with a creamy “OMG, how much sugar did you put in this” type of frosting. So I made a cupcake with the finely ground caramelized sugar. When you make this, be ready; the sugar doesn’t immediately dissolve into the butter the way regular sugar does. It clumps up. Just keep beating. You will still have some clumps after the batter is completely made but that’s actually ok. When the cupcakes are done, you will have these slightly dimpled cakes with small bits of caramelized sugar and those bits give a nice caramelly burst of flavor. The cupcakes themselves aren’t overly sweet but the frosting makes up for that
If you have never worked with caramelized sugar before, be careful. This is dangerously hot when liquid and stays that way for a while.
CARAMEL CUPCAKES WITH A CARAMEL BUTTER CREAM
- For the Caramelized Sugar-
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- For the cupcake-
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground caramelized sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- For the frosting-
- 3/4 cup Smuckers Caramel Sundae Syrup
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1) For the caramelized sugar, first, line a cookies sheet with foil and set aside. Then take the 2 cups sugar and pour into a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Over medium heat and never leaving the stove, cook the sugar. When you start, it will start to lump up. That’s fine. It will smooth out as it melts. Stir every ten seconds or so to expose all the sugar to heat. When it starts to melt, just continually gently stir & turn your heat down to about 4. This isn’t a quick process but if you have the heat too high the only thing you’re going to end up with is a scorched pan and a really nasty smelly mess of burnt unusable sugar. When it is all melted and a nice golden brown color (be careful here. It can go from golden brown to burnt in a heartbeat), carefully pour it out onto the foil lined pan. Set it aside somewhere not reachable by small hands and let it cool.
2) Once it is cool, break it up into large chunks. Eat some . Save some for garnishing the cupcakes. Put the chunks into a food processor bowl and process until it is finely ground.
3) For the cupcakes- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 muffin cups. Or use cupcakes liners because you are smart and don’t want to have to scrub a muffin pan . In a small bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4) Put your butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Remember, it’s going to look clumpy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the extracts.
5) Add half the flour mixture, beat well, then add in half the milk. Repeat.
6)Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pan.
7) Bake at 350 for 19 to 21 minutes or until the top is firm and a nice golden brown. Let cool in the pan that is set over a wire rack for five minutes then take out and let cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
8)For the frosting- Beat butter and caramel syrup (I wanted to use the ground caramelized sugar in here too but I realized that it wouldn’t work after I saw the way it clumps since it can’t bake back out in frosting.) until creamy. Add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar and beat until thick and creamy. Spoon or pipe onto the cupcakes. Garnish with the slivers of hard sugar you held back and more caramel syrup.