Monday, August 22, 2011

Crème Brûlée Cupcakes

Happy Birthday Jarrett!  Another office birthday, which means another excuse for me to bake and try a new recipe.  Then again, I don't need to much of an excuse to bake something, lets get real here, I love baking. 

Well Jarrett said I could make whatever I felt like; whatever recipe I have been wanting to try.  His favorite dessert is crème brûlée, so I decided I would find a recipe for crème brûlée cupcakes.  However, you know how sometimes you get distracted while baking?  Well I did this time.  I completely overfilled my cupcake liners the first time around.  It was a disaster.  The cupcakes spread out all over my cupcake pan; they were not pretty.  There was just no way the cupcakes were going to stay together when scooping out the center for the filling. 

So what did I do, I started over.  I kept some of the ugly ones and threw some of them away.  But, later I had an idea, what do you do with ugly cupcakes?  You crumble the cupcakes up and make cakeballs! Recipe to come.  So, the second time around I learned when using a 1-inch cookie scoop, 2 scoops of cake batter make the perfect size cupcakes.  They come out light, moist and fluffy with just a hint of caramel.  The frosting is light, creamy and not too sweet, and toasting the top with a torch adds a nice crunch to the frosting.

Apparently I shop all over the place, the flour and sugar were from Harris Teeter, the eggs, caramel sauce and butter are from Trader Joe's, baking soda from Giant and vanilla extract from Costco.

Butter, sugar and egg yolks creamed together.

Folding egg whites in to the cake batter.

Egg whites, sugar and salt after being heated using a double boiler.

Cupcakes scooped out awaiting filling.

Cupcakes half covered with the brown sugar before being torched.

Crème Brûlée Cupcakes: (recipe from Bean Town Baker)
*makes approximately 22-26 cupcakes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup water + 3/4 cup heavy cream 
3 tablespoons caramel sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until well combined.

3.  Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla extract.

4.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

5.  Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, whisk the dry ingredients and heavy cream(+water) in to the butter-sugar mixture.

6.  Whisk the caramel sauce into the batter just until combined.

7.  In a small mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites in to the batter.

8.  Using a 1 inch cookie scoop, scoop two spoonfuls of batter in to each prepared cupcake liner (about 2/3 full).  Place cupcakes in the 350 degree F oven and then reduce heat to 325 for the reminder of baking.  Bake in the center of the oven for 18-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool for two minutes in the pan and then remove from pan to finish cooling on a cooling rack.  Begin preparing butter cream frosting.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Butter Cream:
1 cup light brown sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1.  Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm.

2.  Using an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks.  Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total.

3.  With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.  Put in to a piping bag once cup cake centers have been removed.

4.  Remove the center of the cupcake by using a small knife and cutting into the cupcake in a circle.  You only need to cut in to about the middle of the cupcake.  (See picture above.)

5.  Pipe frosting into the center of the cupcake to fill and frost in one motion. (See picture above.)  Sprinkle top of cupcakes with light brown sugar.  Just before serving, using a kitchen torch, caramelize the frosting.  Enjoy!

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