Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers- Caramel Cupcakes with Caramelized Butter Frosting

This month's DB Challenge was chosen by Dolores with help from Alex and Jenny. The recipe is by Shuna Fish Lydon, and is apparently her signature cake. I am sad to say I did not like this cake, nor would I make it again. First, the caramel syrup. I dislike recipes that don't give a temperature for cooking caramel. "Until it's dark brown" doesn't work for me as shown in this recipe and this TWD one.
I think I cooked this too long because once it cooled, it was so hard there was NO way it was going to "pour" into the batter. I think the spoon standing up is a bad thing.So I warmed it up and poured it in. It seized (even though the ingredients were at room temperature) and the batter looked pretty gross. I was afraid it was ruined, but I just kept beating it and it smoothed out wonderfully. I made the cake into cupcakes for my brother's birthday. I filled the cups 3/4 full, and it made about 16 cupcakes. They looked beautiful and I couldn't wait to try them.

My brother loves Van Gogh so I decided to use the cupcakes in the Starry Night project in "Hello, Cupcake!" Since I wasn't going to top the cupcakes with the caramelized butter frosting, I halved the frosting recipe and filled them.
I used Confetti Cakes cupcake icing instead of canned frosting used in the recipe. Unfortunately, we all thought the cupcakes were dense and heavy. My husband said they tasted like cornbread. Only three of the 15 were eaten. Sorry to my brother for the yucky cupcakes! :)
as published on Bay Area Bites
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients.
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrupKosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light (recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon


  1. OH! Jodie... I have never seen such a creative way to ice cupcakes, totaly out of this world! Just like an original VanGogh!
    I'm sorry though... they didn't turn out to be as tasty as they were beautiful!

  2. So pretty for something that wasn't enjoyed! I wonder if the caramel seizing made them coarser? Mine were very smooth - like poundcake, almost.

  3. Too bad these did not turn out to be likeable. I love the painting - how special!

  4. Sorry you didn't like them, but they looked great!

  5. Wow!!! What a cool painting! So sorry it didn't turn out good, but really it was so creative!

  6. I love the Van Gogh. I'm sorry these didnt turn out for you. Maybe next time?

  7. Your Van Gogh picture is great.

  8. I'm sorry you didn't like the cake so much, but those cupcakes certainly look beautiful. I had the same seizing up experience with my caramel syrup!

  9. Wow, that's really impressive. You did a fabulous job!

  10. What a creative display! I am sorry yours didn't turn out to be as tasty.

    ;) amy

  11. Cornbread?! Ruh-roh! What a bummer, after they were decorated so nicely! I thought the cake was good but too much work (with the syrup, etc) for a pretty average taste. Oh well!

  12. That is an AWESOME cake picture! I love it. Sorry they came out so dense!

  13. Sorry that they didn't taste good, but they looked beautiful!! Great job.

  14. So beautiful! So sad they tasted like yuck. Dora and Diego below are adorable though - lovely work!

  15. that is amazing ! van gogh on cupcakes
    who wouldve thought