One of my colleagues, who loves to taste my cupcakes, has been requesting something with chocolate, and maybe some caramel, for quite some time. (My fruit-flavored cupcakes don't seem to satisfy his sweet tooth!) To celebrate one of his last days in clinic before his move out West, I decided to try out a recipe that I hoped would meet his expectations. I'm pretty sure they did - he quickly devoured 2 in a few hours! Even my hubby, who isn't a huge fan of sweets, has eaten more of these than I have. While these have a few steps to complete them, they are actually very easy. (Sorry they use a cake mix - that was actually part of the reason they are so easy! Making the mix with sour cream helps them taste less like a boxed mix)
CHOCOLATE DOUBLE CARAMEL CUPCAKES
Easy Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes (From Recipe Rhapsody)
1 dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
Mix the cake ingredients on medium for two minutes, scraping sides of bowl. Fill muffin cups 1/2 – 2/3 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of largest cupcake comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for five minutes, then remove to cooling racks. Cool completely.
Caramel Icing (Adapted from Piece of Cake)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
5 tablespoons butter, cut into a few chunks
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Put the dark brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan, and melt them together over medium heat, stirring often.
Bring the mixture to a boil and add the milk and vanilla. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dump in the confectioners' sugar all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until the icing is thickened and smooth.
Quickly ice the cupcakes by holding each by the base and dipping the tops in the hot icing, rolling them slightly to coat evenly. Turn them quickly upright so the icing will even out while it's still warm and will set smoothly. (I kept my stove on the very lowest setting - it's a gas stove, and there was barely any flame visible. It was just enough to keep the icing from setting while working with it).
Whipped Caramel Ganache (From Recipe Rhapsody)
1 c sugar
1 ½ c heavy cream
1/8 t salt
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened
Make a dry caramel with the cup of sugar by putting it into a large saucepan and setting it over medium heat. When the bottom starts to melt and the sides turn brown, start pulling the melted sugar toward the center. Continue doing this, constantly pulling & stirring, until all the sugar is melted and it has turned a deep amber color. Remove from heat.
While the sugar is melting, take a minute to bring the cream to boiling and then remove from heat.
Immediately pour the hot cream into the burnt sugar as soon as you remove it from the heat. It will bubble like crazy (so be sure to use a large saucepan!), but just keep stirring until all the caramel is dissolved into the cream. If some of the caramel seizes up, put the saucepan back on medium heat and stir, stir, stir, until all the caramel is dissolved and you have a thin, smooth mixture.
Let the mixture sit for five minutes.
Meanwhile, measure your chocolate into a metal or glass bowl. Pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate and allow to sit for a minute before stirring. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Allow to sit until the mixture is room temperature, about fifteen minutes. You can pop it in the fridge to speed the process, stirring every few minutes. (I actually found it works best to put it into the fridge so that the bowl is slightly on the cold side - it whips better that way)
With an electric mixer, beat the softened butter into the caramel ganache on low speed and then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thickened and lighter in color, about 3-5 minutes.
(The original author notes that the ganache frosting freezes well in an airtight container - she's kept it up to a year in the freezer!)