Monday, March 8, 2010

My kind of perfect (with a recipe of course)

So I had the absolute best of weekends. There was tons of family time, lots of good movies and tv, and even a trip to church! And, like all good weekends, there was the perfect cupcake experiment too.

I knew the weekend would be awesome when Not-So-Ex walked in Friday with Girl Scout Cookies. As a fan of all thing sugar based, I love cookie time. As I looked over the ones he bought (Tagalongs for me, Thin Mints for himself and Hunt, and Trefoils and Samoas for all of us), I remembered that I needed to get baking for Cupcake Hero this month, especially since I had taken a couple months off. Plus this month is all about caramel, which is a favorite substance of mine.

As I looked at the Samoas, I thought how perfect it would be if I could make a cupcake version. So that's what I did.

I started with a shortbread cupcake base. I forgot to buy shortbread cookies at the store, so I made my own from scratch. But I'm sure the store bought would work just as well.

Shortbread Cupcakes
Makes 12-14 cupcakes / 350 F oven

What You’ll Need...
1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of shortbread cookie crumbs
1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt

What You’ll Do...

1) Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugars and mix for 3 minutes using a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
2) Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to beat for 30 seconds for each egg.
3) Place cookies in a food processor or in a plastic bag and crush into small crumbs and powder.
4) Mix together the flour, cookie crumbs, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add about 1/3 of the flour/cookie mixture to the butter mixture, then add some of the milk. Continue to add the ingrdients in a dry-wet-dry method, ending with the dry. Continue to mix until just combined.
5) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350 F oven or until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the filling and topping, I wanted a good caramel base. I had never made homemade caramels but thought it would be fun to try. So I made a batch of caramels and, since the recipe makes a ton, I poured half into a greased pan to eat as regular caramels and then I thinned down the remaining caramel mixture with milk. Again, I'm sure store bought caramels (I only like Kraft ones though) would be good too.

So here's my attempt at making up a recipe for the filling and topping.

One bag unwrapped caramels
1/2 c milk (more or less)
One small bag coconut
Some melted chocolate for drizzling

Melt the caramels in a saucepan. Once they're melted, add milk until they reach the desired consistency. You want them still thick enough to not be watery, but not so thick that, when cooled, they'll turn into sweet little rocks. Once you feel comfortable with the thickness, let the mixture cool.
While it cools, take the bag of coconut and spread it on a baking sheet. Put it in the oven at 350 and wait 10-15 minutes, then stir and put back in for about 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring and toasting till it's all toasted. Keep a close eye on it though. Coconut will catch fire in a hurry. No one wants flames shooting out of their oven. (And yes I know they will catch fire from personal experience)

Once cooled, I put the caramel in a bag and piped the filling in. I know some people prefer to scoop part of the cupcake out and spoon the filling in, and that will work too. It doesn't take much to fill all the cupcakes, maybe 1/2 - 3/4 of a bag full.

Once cupcakes are filled, add the toasted coconut to the remaining caramel mixture. Let it sit for just a few seconds, put it in a bag and pipe it on. I just use a tipless bag and cut the end off. It's not going to be pretty no matter what but it won't be too messy.

Once they're all topped, melt your chocolate and drizzle away. Then put them in the fridge for a bit to help them firm up and not be too messy to eat.

The end result was absolutely delicious!

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