Salted Caramel & Black Magic Cake, a match made in heaven.
When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. I mean how could I not when the author basically named them 'the best cupcakes she's ever tasted'? Good thing I did, cause I feel exactly the same. I was inspired by the flavor combination but used my own favorite chocolate cake and a traditional swiss meringue buttercream as the one in the recipe seemed like it was a lot more complicated then need be.
Black Magic Cake has officially become my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. Do you know why I love black magic cake? For one, the ingredients are easy. The recipe requires no butter and no melting of chocolate. And if you don't have buttermilk? No problem, just use the substitution. Secondly, I am always delighted with the result. Perfectly domed cupcakes that are moist with a tender crumb.
My go to frosting? Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Don't be afraid folks, it's not as hard as they say! It's really quite simple and the results have never failed to please me either, as well as anyone whose tried it! I usually despise, hate, am appalled by most frostings. I actually used to NOT like cupcakes?!?! Can you believe that? Most of the time they are way too sweet but swiss meringue buttercream came to my rescue. It's easy and customizable beyond belief, as seen here, here and here. It's the perfect amount of sweetness that doesn't make your teeth ache after you eat it, plus it pipes like a dream with its utterly perfect consistency. And this caramel version? My absolute FAVORITE. Using salted butter cut down the sweetness even more, but paired with caramel?!?!??! Oh geez, too good to be true.
This recipe is a bit time consuming as there are lots of steps, but it really was worth it, I think this could be one of my favorite cupcakes I've made so far! But if needed, I'm sure you could easily replace the Black Magic Cake with a box mix and instead of making the caramel, use canned dulce de leche or caramel sundae topping. But please, please, please whatever you do, don't skimp on the frosting. It-is-WORTH-it. I promise.
The caramel shards were for pure decoration but they are definitely edible. I tried attempting Tartelette's "Bubble" Caramel but failed. Caramel? Yes. Bubbles? No. I don't know what I did wrong but the shards were still pretty despite being bubble-less. Oh well, next time.
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Yields: 12 - 14 cupcakes
Inspired by this recipe but I made significant changes.
Original "bubble" caramel recipe can be found here.
1 halved recipe of Black Magic Cake
For the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsn. water
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of sea salt
For the buttercream:
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 sticks of salted butter (12 tbsn.), cut into 12 pieces
Caramel, to your taste
For the "bubble" caramel (for decoration/ optional):
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsn. water
1 tbsn. corn syrup
rubbing alcohol (in a spray bottle)
Bake cupcakes according to directions, let cool completely. To make the caramel, add the sugar to a saucepan and pour the water over it. With the heat on low, stir sugar until it is nearly dissolved. DO NOT let it boil, if it get too hot, remove it from the heat for a few seconds. Once mostly dissolved, raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil, cover immediately and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover and continue swirling mixture until it becomes dark amber BUT not burnt! Take off heat and IMMEDIATELY, but slowly pour in cream, stirring with a whisk (I waited a few minutes and it completely hardened and I had to start over). Whisk until combined, set aside.
To make the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water making sure the bottom does not actually touch the water. Stir the egg whites until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and place into the mixer stand. Beat until it becomes white and doubles in size. Add the vanilla on low speed, then add the butter, one piece at a time, making sure it is well mixed after each addition. Do not worry if it looks curdled, it will take some time for it to come together. Continue beating for 5 - 10 minutes until everything comes together. Add the caramel until the taste suits you. Frost your cupcakes, sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy!
To make the caramel shards, combine all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring them to a boil. Bring the mixture to 300 F. While the caramel is reaching the desired temperature, take a sheet of parchment paper and crinkle it lightly with your hands, then flatten it out a bit (this will help form the bubbles). Spray rubbing alcohol on the parchment paper right before the caramel reaches is temperature, don't do it ahead of time or else the alcohol will dry. When caramel is ready, pour over the parchment paper and watch the bubble form. Spread if necessary by lifting the sheet but watch out, because mixture is hot. Let cool completely before breaking into shards. This is more for decoration than eating, but you can eat it.