One hundred degrees.
And again, 100 degrees.
Can you believe it?! The boyfriend and I came back to Omaha to a scorching 100°F+ day from our beautifully cool, breezy trip to Oregon this past weekend. Unbelievable, huh?! Guess I didn't realize how much I love dry heat until today.
But yes, we did make it back from our little travels safely! It was another great weekend watching some baseball, heading out to the Pacific coast for a day, and exploring the mountainsides of Oregon. Neither of us had ever been there, so we definitely experienced another world! We both agreed that Oregon is outrageously beautiful. However, we managed to see a few sides of Portland that we can describe as nothing less than sketchy. I won't get into details but woo! That city is quite crazy. I don't think either of us have ever seen more 'interesting' people than during our short time spent in Portland. Ha, it makes me laugh just thinking about my boyfriends' reaction to the random groups of people we'd walk by clothed by some of the most interesting wardrobes we've ever seen. Kind of indescribable, something you have to actually see to understand what I'm talking about I guess.
Regardless, Oregon was unlike any other state we've been to. The coast was absolutely stunning and we had a wonderful time walking the beach and wishing that our puppies could have been there with us. Don't judge, we love our little babies! And there were dogs running around everywhere, so it's kind of hard to not think about Ollie, Graham and Tilly, cha know?!
I have plenty of pictures from our trip, but that's another post, another day. Just wanted to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, seeing is believing!
So what does that large picture of that glorious looking cupcake at the top of this post have to do with anything? Well, not a lot I guess? But I've had this recipe in my 'to-post' list for, oh, TOO long! Once you take a bite, don't get mad at me for keeping these all to myself until now.
But while we were in Oregon, I found out that Oregon State University is actually still in school! Creighton gets out in the first week of May, so it being June! I found this a little strange. But it got me thinking, graduation parties are obviously to follow the end of school. And these little bites of bliss would be perfect for ANY graduation party. They're served mini, so there's plenty to go around. Since most people are running around from party to party, full-sized desserts might not go over as well since you're obligated to eat at each party you attend (well not really, but I always told myself that so I wouldn't feel guilty trying out every goodie I got my hands on).
These little cupcakes do take a little time, but believe me when I say they are MORE than worth it! They're not necessarily hard, just a few assembly steps. But let me describe to you what they entail: a chocolate cupcake filled with a homemade salted caramel and then finished with a dark chocolate frosting. Simple enough and hard to imagine that these wouldn't be gobbled up, right?
Several people thought the centers were just Rolos. So if you like that chewy caramel and chocolate coating, you will die for these. I guess you could say these are just giant Rolos! And who doesn't love those... .
Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes
from Bake or Break
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1-1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. buttermilk
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. warm water
2-1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. water
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
3/4 c. heavy cream
2-1/2 tsp. sea salt
Dark Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. boiling water
2-1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 lbs. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin cups with liners.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and water. Using electric mixer on low speed, mix until smooth.
4. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
5. Using paring knife, cut cone-shaped piece from center of each cupcake.
6. For filling, heat sugar, water and corn syrup in heavy saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally until syrup is clear.
7. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Stop stirring and cook until syrup comes to boil. Gently swirl pan occasionally until mixture is caramelized and temperature just reaches 360°F.
8. Remove from heat. Slowly pour in cream and stir with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.
9. Spoon warm filing into each cupcake and sprinkle with pinch of sea salt.
10. For frosting, combine cocoa and boiling water. Stir until cocoa has dissolved. Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, powdered sugar and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add melted chocolate. Beat until combined. Beat in cocoa mixture. Frost each cupcake.
Yield: 56 cupcakes
- When I made these, I actually ended up with about 72 mini cupcakes. I only filled the liners just over half full because I really don't like when cupcakes overflow and you get that little muffin-like top. But that just depends on your preference.
- For timing purposes, I made the caramel and the frosting the night before I made the cakes. I would recommend this if you're a little strapped the day you need these.
- When making the caramel, I didn't have a candy thermometer so I was forced to just eye the mixture. I posted pictures of the various color stages the caramel goes through, so hopefully that helps! If you do have a candy thermometer though, I recommend using it.
- When filling the cupcakes with the warm caramel, I noticed that the caramel soaked into the cakes. So I had to go through a second time and fill the cupcakes, but I still had more than enough caramel to get me through this.
- Also when making the caramel, I added salt to taste. I read in one of the reviews that it probably didn't need all of the salt called for, so I added some, tasted, added some, etc., until I got to a flavor I liked. I also didn't sprinkle any salt on top of the caramel before frosting because I personally felt like there was enough salt.
- These cupcakes are best the day they are assembled. However, my boyfriend and I continued to chow on them well beyond that first day.