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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes - total time 1 hour

Mmm... salted caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks, so delish!  While we were on vacation in Colorado, we found their hot chocolate mix at the local grocery store which tasted even better after a long hike in the cold mountains.  I hope my grocery store starts carrying the mix too... the last thing you want to do when you are craving hot chocolate is go outside in the cold to go get it!  These yummy cupcakes are the result of my hot chocolate obsession.

2.5 cups flour
.75 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
.5 butter
.75 cup creme fraiche (bonus points if you find the vanilla bean kind)
1 cup dulce de leche
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar together in mixer.  Add vanilla and eggs, combine at a slower speed.  Add salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
2.  Add .75 cup of flour and .25 cup of cocoa powder into mixer.  Add .25 cup of creme fraiche and combine.  Repeat two more times.
3.  Spoon out batter into mini cupcake liners.  Bake for 14 minutes.
4.  Let cupcakes cool for at least ten minutes.  Take your smallest measuring spoon and scoop out the centers of each cupcake (reserve in a bowl).  Fill crevice with dulce de leche and sprinkle salt on top.
5.  Whip butter in clean mixer.  Add vanilla, salt, and cream.  Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time until frosting is formed.  Scoop frosting into piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes.  Top with a sprinkle of sugar and salt.

(Use the reserved cupcake pieces, left over dulce de leche, and some chocolate sauce, stir together in bowl, press down to compact and top with remaining frosting.  It may not be pretty, but it is oh so tasty!)


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