Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Ganache and Salted Caramel Buttercream

Talk about gilding the lily! This recipe came about while I was trying to come up with something to do for my daughter Esther’s baby shower. They were such a hit that when my older daughter Mirjam needed something for a picnic dessert I made another batch with enough to put out on the sideboard for afternoon dessert.  At 3pm on this Saturday afternoon there are 2 left on the plate. I sure hope everyone that wanted one got one. Looks like we will be making these often.

I used the chocolate cake recipe that I posted with Peanut Butter Frosting and filled 24 cupcake papers with the batter. It is such a moist cake and because of that holds really well.
The rest of the directions here are what to do next. Warning, this stuff is seriously good, but you will not want to print out the calorie count. They are, after all, for special occasions.

For the Caramel:
In a small saucepan measure 1 cup of sugar
Over medium high heat, watching carefully but NOT stirring, brown the sugar.
It will melt and turn amber then dark amber. You can lift the pan and gently swirl the caramel to distribute it and mix it as it melts.  You do not want to burn it but you may notice the smell turns and it may smell faintly burnt. That is ok. We are, in essence, burning sugar.  Honestly, this takes some practice. Consider it school and try not to be upset if you have to throw out a batch. It is only sugar. Practice makes perfect and this is one of those times.

OK.. I digress.
At this point, when your sugar is dark brown but not black stand back and add 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream. It will sizzle and spatter (that’s why you stand back) but eventually subside and just simmer. Stir gently until all the caramel bits are dissolved and you have a dark amber syrup. Remove from the stove and allow to cool completely.
At this point you can store this in a jar to use later.

For the Ganache

Ganache is so incredibly easy! It is perfect for dipping strawberries, hot fudge sundaes, pouring over a bundt cake as a frosting or chilling, rolling into balls then in nuts (truffles).  Here we are going to pipe it around the edge of our cupcakes.
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chop into pieces   ( I use Wilber’s bronze label chocolate which I can purchase in small pieces)

In a saucepan heat the cream till just ready to simmer
Remove from the heat and add all of the chocolate
Stir until the chocolate is all melted into the cream
Set aside and allow to cool
It is now ready to pipe
Fill into a pastry bag with a plan round tip
Pipe a rope of ganache around the edge of each cupcake

For the Buttercream

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temp
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (you may need a bit more)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup caramel syrup  plus 1/4 cup set aside for the drizzle
flaked sea salt for the sprinkle

Place the butter into a large mixing bowl and using the paddle attachment for your mixer whip the butter till light and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar in increments whipping all till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and caramel. You can use more caramel if you want more intense flavor but you will need a bit more confectioners sugar if you do.
Place in the refrigerator for about 15 min for it to stiffen up a bit but not harden.
Fill into a pastry bag with a large star tip
In the middle of each ganache ring pipe the caramel butter cream
With a fork, spatter the remaining 1/4 cup of caramel over the top of the muffins
Place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator to cool and for the buttercream to get firm.
At this point you can store them in an air tight container.
Just before serving sprinkle  VERY LIGHTLY (don’t go nuts here!) with flaked sea salt

I will try to do a video of the caramel process if I can find someone to tape it. It is not as hard as it sounds, it just takes a bit of practice.

Swiss Woods Bed and Breakfast
Debbie Mosiman
The Lititz Broad

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