Highway to Heaven Cupcakes
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- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups warm strong brewed coffee or french pressed coffee
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 recipe sexy bittersweet chocolate ganache, warm, recipe follows
- 1 recipe salted caramel sauce, room temperature, recipe follows
1For cupcakes, preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners
2Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and slat into large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, coffee, eggs, vanilla and vegetable oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just ti incorporated there are no lumps. It’s a thin batter, but it will bake up beautifully.
3Divide batter equally among the muffin cups, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top. Bake til tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes.
4To make coffee syrup, in small pan, mix the coffee and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil for 1 to 2 minutes to concentrate the mixture.
5While cupcakes are still hot, brush the tops with coffee syrup. You’ll use most but not all of it. Just discard the rest or use it in a cocktail. Let cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
6Put the caramel in a squeeze bottle. Insert the tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze in some caramel. You’ll se them plump up a bit, but don’t fill them with so much that the cupcakes split. Dip tops in Ganache, then tilt to shake off the excess. Let chocolate set. It will be glossy but not runny, for about 30 minutes before drizzling with more salted caramel to serve.
Note: You can impale these cupcakes with shards of Ruffles potato chips as a garnish. The chips are quite dramatic, and they offer a counterpoint of salty crunch to the rich cupcakes.
7Sexy bittersweet Chocolate Ganache:
12 oz. chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate
14 Tbsp. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 tsp. good sea salt, such as fleur de sel
1/4 cup light corn syrup
In medium metal bowl, mix chocolate, butter, salt and corn syrup. Put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring til chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from heat. Use as a glaze for cakes, or let cool til spreadable and use as a frosting or filling. Ganache can be refrigerated for 1 week. To gently rewarm, heat in microwave on 50 percent power or put over a pan over barely simmering water and give it a good whisking.
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel
2 cups heavy cream, warmed
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a deep heavy bottomed pot, mix the sugar, water and salt and stir til well mixed. Cook over high heat til sugar starts to color around the edges of the pot, swirling the pan to promote even caramelization of the sugar. Don’t stir or the sugar will crystallize, that is, harden. Continue cooking, swirling occasionally til the caramel is very dark mahogany in color and lightly smoking. It should be on the verge of burning, 10 to 15 minutes.
Immediately remove the pot from the heat and while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon, add the warmed cram in a steady stream. Since you’re taking the caramel to the dark side, you have to work quickly and begin adding the cram right away to stop the cooking process. But you don’t want to add it all at once, so pour it in a continuous steady stream. Be careful. The mixture wills team and bubble up furiously. Wear an oven mitt on the hand that’s stirring in the cream. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in the vanilla and let cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, for several hours to thicken.
Whisk before using or transferring to an airtight jar for longer storage. It will keep refrigerated for at least 1 week.
Tip: Warming the cream separately helps to keep the caramel from shocking into a hard mass when you add it. Be sure to add it quickly because you need to stop the cooing process as soon as the caramel turns the color you want. Otherwise, it will keep cooking and it can go from perfect to brunt in just a few seconds. Be sure the pot is heavy bottomed to promote even cooking, deep enough to hold the caramel when it bubbles up and light colored, such as stainless steel, so you can see the color of the caramel as it’s cooking. When mixing in cream, use heat proof utensils such as a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
9To ensure that the sugar does not crystallize, you can add a very small amount of fresh lemon juice for 1/2 lemon, to the sugar mixture before putting it on the heat.
Notes: The Sugar Cube says these were like a gateway drug, luring people in with their coffee chocolate caramel decadence. You can build your entire reputation on a single cupcake.