Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I call this heaven in my mouth. I have always loved sweet and salty things together because I feel that the combination brings out the flavors in both. These cupcakes do not disappoint!

The cake came together quickly, as it always does, thus adding to why it's my favorite. However, the frosting was a different story. I found myself missing some key ingredients, so, after painting all day and baking chocolate cupcakes, I had to make myself presentable and head to the grocery store {because we all know the one time you go to the grocery store looking gross, you will run into everyone you went to high school with, a few coworkers, and possibly the man you'll marry - bad news}. Around 9pm I started the Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting base, which takes some time, but this was during the days before my Stand Mixer. While I struggled to hold the mixing bowl against the spinning of the mixer filled with tacky sugar and egg white mixture, the Yosh smelled something burning on the stove. In an effort the save what I thought was burning, I let go of the bowl only to helplessly watch it as it went flying across the stove seconds later, flinging the white, sticky substance all over me, the Yosh, my mom, and the kitchen. I was too exhausted from a day of painting to do anything but laugh.

Since the frosting didn't set up (which is tricky with this type of Buttercream), we decided to scratch the whole thing and start over (I got impatient when it was in the double boiler and didn't quite allow it to reach 160*F...I was not rewarded for my impatience). Eventually...and we're talking midnight here...the frosting was finished, only I had reheated the caramel too much and it quickly melted the beautiful frosting, so I could not frost the cupcakes that night. In the end, it was well worth the wait, these cupcakes were FANTASTIC!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cupcakes:

Recipe from Ina Garten via Food Network

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line regular cupcake tins. (I find that greasing the pans causes the cupcake liners to lose their color, so I just try not to overfill each liner and omit the greasing)

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. (this can all be done with a hand mixer or even by hand)

Using a ladle or ice cream scoop (the mixture is extremely soupy), fill the cupcake liners halfway. Bake at 350*F for 18-22 minutes for regular cupcakes {or 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes}, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. Cool completely before frosting.

Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Sweetapolita

8 large egg whites (30g each)
2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
2.5 cups (1.25 lbs, 5 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
15 ml (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract
Salt to taste
½ cup Dulce de Leche {recipe follows}

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, small bowl, and whisk with paper towel and lemon juice (or vinegar), to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar,  and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot {you can feel a drop in between your fingers to ensure no granules}.
Take off of stove, and place bowl back on electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and neutral (you can feel outside of the bowl to test temperature). Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continuously, add butter one cube at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).  Add vanilla and salt, mix well. You can also add a wide variety of flavorings, extracts, and more. If buttercream is too runny, the butter was possibly too soft--place into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then beat again. If still too runny, add a few more cubes of butter and keep beating. Use immediately, or refrigerate/freeze.
Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.
Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.
If buttercream still doesn't have its satiny finish after rewhipping, microwave 1/3 of the buttercream for approximately 10 seconds and add to remaining buttercream in mixer bowl, beating for a few moments to incorporate.

Dulce de Leche
Fill a crock pot with water almost to the top. Remove label off of one can (any size) swe etened condensed milk. Place can on its side in the crock pot, cover, turn crock pot on low, and cook overnight (~8 hours) or on high for ~4 hours. Turn off crock pot and allow can to cool.

Source: Adapted from Sweetapolita  and Ina Garten


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