August 14, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cupcakes

You guys I'm awful.
 I mean just look at these. I think I'm awful because 1) as soon as I get somewhere with unlimited kitchen space I freak out and want to bake up a sugary, fatty, ooey gooey storm, and 2) because I'm not sorry at all.
I mean not even a little. These cupcakes were worth every caloric bite that I inhaled. 
All I have to say is that if you're going to ruin your diet on something, these should be it.
Or maybe you're a lot more disciplined than me and won't ruin your diet... for that I commend you, and you should definitely, and I mean DEFINITELY make these for someone else. Like your mom or your friends or your cousin or your dog or something.

So let's talk cupcakes. 
I don't discriminate when it comes to them, I like most flavors. I'm a big mint/chocolate fan, but I can always go for a good strawberry or key lime. But I especially love a good, dense, moist chocolate cupcake, which is often hard to come by. 
So let's start with the actual cake part. The recipe I use is part of the "cupcakes basics" series by Annie's Eats. They're easy to make, and basically fool-proof. 
Then, topped with dark chocolate ganache, a nice smattering of caramel frosting, crushed pretzels, and a caramel drizzle, you basically have ooey gooey caramely heaven. Yes please.

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache & Crushed Pretzels
 recipe adapted from Annie's Eats, Martha Stewart 

For the chocolate cupcake:
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. hot water
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
  1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcake pans (24 cupcakes total) with paper liners. 
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water. Whisk together until the cocoa mixture is smooth, set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and sugar until melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer (you could use a hand mixer as well) and beat the mixture until cooled, about 10 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl. Then blend in the vanilla mixture and cocoa mixture until everything is smooth. 
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Combine until all ingredients are just incorporated, do not over beat. 
Pour the batter evenly into the liners, filling them about 2/3 full.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center of the cupcake. Let cool in the pans about 2-3 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack to let cool completely.

For the chocolate ganache:
4 oz. good semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I use ghiradelli baking semi-sweet chocolate)
4 oz. heavy cream
In a small saucepan, begin to heat the heavy cream over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop four ounces of chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Let cream heat until just barely boiling/simmering, then pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for about 30 seconds, then whisk the mixture until the ganache is thick and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes to let thicken.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, dip the tops of the cupcakes into the ganache, and let the ganache set and harden before frosting.

For the caramel frosting:
 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) butter
5-6 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp. milk (if needed)
 In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium-high heat. Let the butter melt until nut-brown in color, about 6-8 minutes (it may smell like it's burning and that's okay). Remove the pan from the heat and pour the brown butter mixture into a bowl to let cool (some of the burned sediments on the bottom of the pan will stay there). 
In the bowl of an electric mixer (you could use a hand mixer for this as well), fitted with the paddle attachment, add powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, salt, and cooled butter. Beat on medium-low speed to cream into a frosting. If it seems to thin, add more powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add milk 1 tbsp. at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. 
Frost the ganache-covered cupcakes with caramel frosting, then top with crushed pretzels and drizzle with caramel sauce. Add a whole pretzel on top as a garnish.

crushed pretzels
caramel sauce



Teenage Bride said...

YUM!!!!! I know what is going to be going on in my kitchen this weekend!

Lauren said...

I love your love for cupcakes! A woman after my own heart. I can't wait to try this recipe.

Fash Boulevard said...

oh my goodness, this looks so yummy. Fabulous post, love. If you get a sec, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my latest trend report and my big news regarding Lauren Conrad. xo

Kylie said...

Great job on your recent photos--you pictures are looking great!

anna said...

these look DIVINE! maybe i'll have to try a gluten-free version :)