hi-hat-cupcakes-tx

Or pure sugar. Just call me Paula Deen. These things are so loaded with sugar that every well-intentioned parent is going to come after me with hate mail in the comments section. In fact, if you’re from Europe, don’t even make these. They’re way too sweet.

Though I had trouble eating these with all their sugar, I must have had at least four of them. There was just something so perfect about the way the warm caramel soaked through the cake, and the way it balanced with the dark chocolate in the crispy outer shell.

These were not my own original creation. I had seen this kind of cupcake on Martha Stewart before, and also on Bakerella, who has fabulous how-to photos. To make them my own, though, I filled them with caramel, and used a different recipe for the frosting and the cupcakes. One of the best parts about these has to be the fact that you get to make your own magic shell–and it’s all natural.

hi hat cupcakes

1/4 cup dark or Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water, plus a little more if needed*
1 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup yogurt or sour cream
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
caramel filling (recipe follows)
italian meringue frosting (recipe follows)
dipping chocolate (recipe follows)

1. Line 2 standard muffin tins with 12 paper liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cocoa powder with boiling water and stir until smooth (add more water, a tablespoon at a time as necessary to create a smooth, frosting-like consistency). Combine all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until smooth.

2. Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter among the cupcake papers. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan for about five minutes. Take the cupcakes out of the tin, and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

3. While they are cooling, prepare the caramel. Let the caramel cool until pourable, but not completely room temperature. Use a melon baller to remove a small amount of cake from the center of each cupcake. Fill each with about a tablespoon of caramel.

hi-hat-cupcakes hi-hat-cupcakes-2

4. Place half the frosting (or less) in a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe the frosting in a circular pattern, almost like you’re filling a soft-serve ice cream cone. Repeat with all the cupcakes. Before adding more frosting to the bag, whip the frosting again for about 30 seconds to make it smooth again. Fill the bag and finish frosting the cupcakes.

5. Place dipping chocolate in a narrow, high-sided container, such as a glass or a cup with a wide enough opening for the cupcake. Dip the cupcake until the frosting is completely covered. Place in the refrigerator until completely set. Enjoy, and take a nap to ward off the sugar headache that will follow.

caramel

Please read all these directions a couple times before starting, and get all your ingredients set out before hand. Kick all other family members out of the kitchen, and best of luck. Caramel is very simple, but it requires good timing. Remember, I burned my first batch, so you might want extra cream on hand in case that happens. Experience is the best teacher for this. Give yourself plenty of time, and don’t be discouraged if it isn’t perfect at first. Once I got the hang of it, I made an extra batch which came out as well as the one before it.

1/2 cup heavy cream (make sure it is heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream, not regular whipping cream)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated pure cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon butter

1. Measure out cream into a liquid measuring cup. Stir in vanilla and set aside within an easy reach of the stove.

2. Stir sugar and water in a medium pot with tall sides. Set over medium-high heat. As the sugar dissolves and begins to boil, you may swirl the pot to mix the boiling sugar water. DO NOT STIR WITH A SPOON. This will make the sugar crystalize.

apple-crisp-1 apple-crisp-2

3. As the sugar syrup boils, watch very carefully for the color to change. You are looking for a nice, warm amber color, about the shade of cinnamon sticks. Don’t let it get any darker. (Even if it doesn’t look burnt, it can taste burnt. If it starts to smoke, you’ve let it go too far.) On a side note, my candy thermometer did not reach far enough into the pot to get an accurate reading of the syrup, but with such a small amount of syrup, the temperature changes pretty quickly anyway. It’s best to watch it and wait for it to turn the right color.

apple-crisp-3 apple-crisp-4

4. As soon as it turns the proper amber color, pull the pot off the heat. Whisk in the butter, and then pour in the vanilla-cream mixture. It will now bubble violently. Whisk carefully but briskly. The caramel will start to solidify a bit., but keep whisking. Put the pot of caramel over low heat and whisk carefully for a minute or two until smooth. Pour into a heat proof jar, and allow to cool.

italian meringue frosting

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
6 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons of very good pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until dissolved. Bring to a boil without stirring, and continue to boil until the temperature reaches the firm ball stage, or 248 degrees.

2. While the sugar syrup comes to temperature, beat egg whites in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup.

smores-cupcakes-7 smores-cupcakes-10

3. Gradually increase the speed to high, and whisk meringue until stiff and cool, about 7 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla.

dipping chocolate (aka “magic shell”)

2 cups chocolate chips (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil

Pour ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until completely melted.

hi-hat-cupcakes-3