The other day I had a craving for a salted caramel cupcake. Making home made caramels has been on my hit list of things to tackle, so I figured there's no time like the present. I had to make a quick trip to Williams Sonoma to pick up a candy thermometer and some sea salt, but soon I was ready to work. I made the caramels in the morning after preschool drop off and by the end of the night I had finished the cake and we were ready to eat it.
Since I was going to consume myself with making caramels, I decided to go with two recipes I already know well for the cake and buttercream. I used the chocolate stout cake from the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes I made last year. And I used the salted caramel buttercream from these Samoa cupcakes.
At first I was tempted to make the caramel without a candy thermometer. But at Christmas time I had an incident with marshmallow spilling all over my cook top, counters and cabinets. And everything I read said that caramel is volatile when you add the cream. Since I'd never made caramel before I thought it best not to try to guess my way through it.
For no particular reason whatsoever, I chose this tutorial from Inspired Taste. It most likely had to do with ease of preparation. As I get more comfortable with making them, I'll try different recipes. Maybe. These were goooood. My only gripe, at first, was that they didn't fully set up. They remained a little softer than I wanted them to be. Which was fine. But shortly after I took these pictures, the caramels on top started to drip down the sides of the cake. (Actually it looked really cool and I wish I'd gotten a picture, but I was busy eating cake.) I had taken the left over caramel and put it in the fridge overnight and it set up beautifully and would have made great squares to go on top of the cake or cupcakes. Like Annie's here. Live and learn.
I opted to put a caramel in between the cake layers instead of buttercream. Next time I might outline the border in buttercream then fill the center with caramel. Like I said, it was a little runnier than expected. And after we cut the cake, the caramel pooled right out.
This was way easier than I anticipated. And, yes, there will be a next time. Hopefully soon!
Salted Caramels for a Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream
method adapted from Inspired Taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon corse sea salt
Line a 8x8 brownie pan with foil, spray foil with cooking spray.
In a medium saucepan, heat cream, vanilla, kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
In a large sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix sugar and corn syrup, Cook over medium heat, stirring gently until sugar is dissolved. You may use a wet pastry brush to push any sugar granules down into the sugar mixture if they stick to the sides of the pot. Cook syrup without stirring until the thermometer registers 310 degrees F. Gently swirl the pan to even out any darker areas in the sugar.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. In case of bubble over, I placed my saucepan in the sink. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the syrup. Expect a bubble eruption, use caution and do not put your face over the pot. Stir until smooth.
Return saucepan to medium heat. Cook caramel until thermometer reads 260 degrees F. (I confess that I only got the thermometer to 230 before I became impatient and took it off the stove. This may be why it never set up fully.)
Remove from heat and remove thermometer. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. After 10 minutes sprinkle course sea salt over the top. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cool, lift foil out of the pan, peel away from caramel and cut into equal sized squares. Or if its not quite firm enough, mold it into whatever shape you want like I did and wait for it to drip down the side of your cake! Either way, it'll be delicious.Pin It