Thursday, July 31, 2014

caramel corn cupcakes

I blame these cupcakes on last week's weather. 

Last week was absolutely wonderful. The air was warm, but there was a crisp breeze to cut through all the humidity. Perfection. Plus, it seems like everywhere I went I smelled fried food and I automatically started craving fall. 

I love summer, but I'm definitely ready for football games, crunchy leaves, apple desserts, pumpkin lattes, bath and body works candles, and craft fairs. For me, fall is all about caramel and I always equate the season with caramel corn. I guess it's because the scent is so warm and inviting. All these things inspired me to put the flavors of caramel corn into a cupcake. 

So, these cakes start with boxed white cake mix, but we aren't going to follow the directions on the back of the package. We're adding whole eggs instead of egg whites, salted butter in place of oil, and substituting milk (with a little something extra) for the water. My goal was to make the cake itself taste more salty, buttery, popcorn and top it all off with a sweet puff of caramel-y frosting. Mission accomplished thanks to a few tricks!


Caramel Corn Cupcakes

makes at 24 cupcakes

For the Cake

1 16.5 ounce box Duncan Hines Classic White Cake
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
2 cups caramel corn plus more for decoration ( I used Cracker Jack but homemade would be good too)
1/8 teaspoon butter extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put caramel corn in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan on medium-high, heat milk until tiny bubbles appear around the edge and immediately remove from heat. Pour scalded milk over the caramel corn and allow to steep and cool for about 10 minutes.

Once the milk is cool add it to the bowl of a mixer along with the cake mix, eggs, and melted butter.Mix until just combined and the cake mix is fully incorporated. Add in the butter extract and salt. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into 24 lined cupcake tins and bake for 13 - 15 minutes. Or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before removing cupcakes from the pan and cooling completely on wire racks.  

For the Frosting

2 sticks butter
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup caramel (either store-bought or homemade)
Pinch of salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter on medium speed. Once the butter is light and fluffy add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing completely before adding more. Add in caramel and salt and mix until well combined. Turn mixer on higher and whip until frosting is light and fluffy. 

Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and top with caramel corn and more caramel if you want!

Bring on the apple pie floats!