Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Samoas"/"Caramel Delight" Cupcakes

Its one of those weeks where I have so many things going on in my head that, I don't even know where to start.  Last week flew by with work, a snow day, driving down South for my nephews magic of science birthday party and getting things checked off the wedding to do list...catering tasting....check...first dress fitting...check.  Some how I am left feeling productive and behind all at the same time.  

So, to take my mind off of things for a bit, I baked.  Technically last week I baked donuts and shortbread...I'll get around to those...I am a bit behind, but a couple of weeks ago I made these cupcakes for a co-worker's birthday. Inspired by the Girl Scout cookies and these Samoas donuts from last year, this time its Samoas cupcakes.  The fluffy cupcakes, the crunch of the toasted coconut and the sweetness of the chocolate with the slightly salty caramel mean these are pretty much delicious!  If you grew up eating Samoas or depending on where you are at in the country...Caramel Delights...these should be right up your alley. Give them a try and Enjoy!

Cupcakes baked...I figured you all have seen enough mixtures of my mixture...

Toasty coconut...

And...Cupcakes in the snow. What can I say, the lighting in my house that morning was terrible.  The lighting in the fresh snow was better...

"Samoas" Cupcakes: (cupcake base recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Chocolate Ganache: 
4 ounces semisweet
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/16 teaspoon coarse salt

Almost Brunt Caramel Sauce: (recipe from The Joy the Baker Cookbook)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
3 tablespoons salted butter or (3 tablespoons unsalted butter + 1/4 teaspoon salt)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, melted 
1 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted

Make ahead - Caramel Sauce:
1.  Place a medium, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add the sugar, water and corn syrup to the warming pan.  Whisk the sugar occasionally as it begins to heat to ensure that the sugar cooks evenly.

2.  Cook the sugar to a nice dark copper color. The sugar will go from golden to dark copper fairly quickly.  To help control the sugar, turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool burner just before you reach the dark color you'd like.  The bottom of the pan will still be hot enough to continue to cook the sugar.

3.  Over low heat, whisk butter, all at once, into the copper-colored sugar.  When butter is melted, pour in the cream.  The mixture will bubble and froth, but keep mixing.  When bubbling subsides, add vanilla extract.  Stir.  The caramel might feel to loose. Don't worry; it will thicken as it cools.

4.  Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Preparing the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with liners, and spray just the bottoms with non-stick cooking spray; then set aside. 

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. 

3.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.

4.  Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.

5.  Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.  While cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting and toast the coconut in the hot oven.

Preparing the ganache:
1.  Bring cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate, and add salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don't stir -- doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy).

2.  Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate.

3.  Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl.  Scrape dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it. Let cool until mostly thickened, and a consistency not to runny but easy to spread on the cupcakes.

Constructing the cupcakes:
1.  Take the cooled cupcakes and spread each generously with ganache.  Then top with the toasted coconut.

2.  Next generously drizzle with almost brunt caramel sauce.  If you have made this ahead and it is coming out of the refrigerator, remove the jars lid and heat in the microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Re-heat until the sauce is a consistency easy to drizzle.

3.  Using a double-boiler, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and then drizzle it on top of the cupcakes.  Serve at room temperature and Enjoy!

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