Every now and then I get an idea for a recipe that I think will be a piece of cake (pun intended!) to develop. It never is.
The saga of my CARAMEL FILLED CUPCAKES began with an inspiration from Hostess Cupcakes and Cadbury Caramel Eggs. I envisioned biting into a firm cupcake filled with, not white fluff, but with creamy caramel. The recipes I found called for baking a chocolate cupcake, digging out divots from the tops, and filling with caramel sauce.
First of all, cutting out the divots seemed like a lot of messy work. Second of all, what to do with all the divots? (I hate waste!) So, I figured I’d just pour batter into the tins and drop in homemade caramel. FAIL! All that happened was the caramel blended with the batter during baking. Tasty, but not what I wanted.
I tried freezing the caramel into balls and adding it to the batter. Same result as before since it turns out caramel doesn’t freeze. (Who knew?) I tried dropping in the caramel at different times during baking. Same. Finally, I decided I needed to encase the caramel – like the Cadbury Eggs. It couldn’t actually be Cadbury Eggs, though, since not only are they seasonal, but they’re huge.
After scouring the candy departments of various stores (what I won’t do for my blog!), I had a eureka moment when I found Lindt’s chocolate covered caramels. They were just the right size and shape! Getting closer. I dropped them into the batter. They sank to the bottom, leaking caramel. I wanted the caramel in the middle – like Hostess Cupcakes’ fluff. How could I keep the balls suspended?
It finally hit me to bake a wee bit of batter in order to form a solid base for the balls, then add the balls, surrounding them with batter, and complete the bake. Yes!!! The last tweak was freezing the balls first so they remained intact.
NOTE: Just so you know, the many cupcakes that bombed were still eaten. I HATE WASTE!
CARAMEL FILLED CUPCAKES – makes 18 cupcakes
- 18 caramel filled chocolate 1″ balls (I use Lindt), frozen
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli 60% bar – not chips)
- 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup hot coffee
- 3/4 cup (4-1/8 oz) bread flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
- 6 T vegetable oil
- 1¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% chips)
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
The first thing to do is freeze the chocolate-caramel balls. (I store them in the freezer immediately when I buy them.) They need to be solid to prevent melting during baking.
Break up the bittersweet chocolate bar into small pieces (so they melt quicker) and put into a bowl (or better yet, a 6 cup or more spouted measuring cup – the spout makes pouring the batter into the cupcake tin much easier). Sift the cocoa powder (cocoa powder tends to get lumpy in storage) into the bowl. Pour in the HOT coffee. Immediately cover bowl with a plate to retain heat in order to melt the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften, then stir until all chocolate is melted and mixture is well blended. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Into another bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. Line your muffin tins with 18 regular-sized cupcake papers.
Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
Into yet another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, vinegar, and oil. Pour egg mixture into cooled melted chocolate and stir. (You don’t want the chocolate to be too hot or it could could cook the eggs.)Add in flour mixture and mix well – this is one instance where you want a little toughness to the cake so it holds up to the caramel. Pour 1 tablespoon into the bottom of each liner. Don’t put in more or the caramel ball will sit too high. This small bit of batter is going to form a barrier against the caramel, preventing it from seeping into the paper. Bake for 6 minutes (SET A TIMER!!!) in the preheated 350º F oven. Remove from oven. Set a frozen caramel ball on top of each baked cake bit, dead center (do your best). Then pour batter around and on top of ball, 1/3″ from top of paper. (This is where a spouted measuring cup comes in handy! Use a spoon to catch the drips.) Return to oven and bake at 350º F for another 11 minutes. Remove from oven and keep cupcakes in hot muffin tin 10 minutes to set. Remove cupcakes – with papers – to a wire rack to completely cool. To make ganache frosting, place chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Heat cream until bubbles form along sides – don’t let it boil. Immediately pour over chips, cover with a plate, and let melt for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. If the chips don’t completely melt, pour mixture into a small saucepan and, over a very low heat, stir until melted. Allow to cool completely so it thickens, stirring now and then. Pipe ganache on cupcakes, or just frost with a knife.