Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Case Study 121: "The Bourbon Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cupcake"

Are you feeling what I'm feeling? 

It's the end of November, the early frost is setting in and we've all reached the same point: pumpkin fatigue.

And from reading the title above, I know what you guys are thinking. Holy bananas,this chick isn't going to whip up another pumpkin cupcake, is she?  

Well, I am. 

But wait, here's the thing. This is the end... the very very end(until 2013). I promise. There will be no more pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, or gold-flecked caramel figs. You see, by the time we reach Friday, when we're all full from that big day where we eat all of the things, we'll have already started to be served new stuff like peppermint, Christmas carols and dreams of potato latkes with wings(personal dreams, but...as you were).

So let's think of this as "one last hurrah." One last fling before the ringing Hershey Kiss commercials hit TV and that baby polar bear slides down a glacier and somehow finds a bottle of Coca-Cola.

I think pumpkin cupcakes topped with bourbon salted caramel buttercream and spiced shortbread leaves will do the trick, don't you?

Good. So here's what we're going to do. First we'll whip up the fluffiest pumpkin cupcakes in all of the lands. I'm going to suggest you get all crazy and use "organic" pumpkin if going the canned route here because the consistency is perfect for creating said fluff. 

Then, while the cupcakes cool, get down and dirty with some caramel sauce. This isn't your mother's best friend from high school's mom's caramel sauce. No, this one has salt. And bourbon. I used this recipe. Now tread lightly here. If you put a spoon from the cooking bourbon salted caramel into your mouth, you will get burned

When the caramel has cooled COMPLETELY, make your frosting using a basic vanilla frosting recipe. But instead of using milk and vanilla, use the bourbon salted caramel. See where I'm going here? Use your eyes and watch the consistency.

We've reached the grand finale. Time to frost those cupcakes! Are you ready? Let's go. 

Pipe or schmear your bourbon salted caramel buttercream onto your cupcakes and top with something festive. It's Thanksgiving, which stands for abundance and overload and thankfulness of things, so this could be sprinkles, some form of cornucopia tchotchke or my choice, spiced shortbread leaves (recipe here).

We're done! One last hurrah of Pumpkin Cupcakes. See, that was easy. 

Now go forth and eat! 

Pumpkin Cupcakes (makes approx. 12 cupcakes)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup milk

1.  Set oven to 375º and line a one-dozen cupcake pan.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
2. Cream the butter and sugars together in a bowl until combined and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes.
3. Add the egg into the mixer, beating until smooth and scraping down the sides.  Mix in the vanilla bean
3. Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 parts, just until combined and smooth, and ending on the dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat!
5. Gently fold in the pureed pumpkin.
4. Fill the cooled and crusted cupcake pan with the batter, until each cup is 2/3 full.  Bake 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.  
5. Remove from pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Bourbon Salted Caramel Buttercream (makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes)

1.5 c. butter
1/2 c. bourbon salted caramel
4-5 cups confectioner's sugar

1. Cream the butter with a mixer on a medium speed, 3 minutes.
2. Mix in the half of the bourbon salted caramel.
3. Gradually blend in the confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time. After about 2 cups, add in more salted caramel
. Continue to add sugar and caramel until desired consistency is reached.
4. Frost cupcakes

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