Carmel Pecan Candies (AKA "Turtles") had always been a special treat in my household while growing up. They were my mom's favorite candy, and if we were lucky, we'd get a bite of her cherished treat (she often got large boxes of them for holiday presents). I love the chocolate/pecan/chewy caramel combination & knew it would make a fantastic cupcake flavor. Plus, it gave me another opportunity to find a chocolate cake recipe that I really liked. (I liked this better than the Hershey's recipe that so many love). And, it gave me another opportunity to use the tasty dulce de leche that I've made a few times this year. I used the same frosting for this as I did for my Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche Cupcakes.
Chocolate Cupcakes (From Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010)
Makes 12-15 cupcakes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.
Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.
Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.
Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
DULCE DE LECHE BUTTERCREAM (Adapted from Joy the Baker)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche
Cream together butter and dulce de leche on low using an electric mixer. Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat to incorporate.
Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with drizzles of chocolate syrup & dulce de leche (slightly melted), and top with a half of a pecan.