Thursday, November 8, 2012

Family and Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I love my family.  That's it.  I'm always grateful that through the workings of the Universe we all ended up living within a short drive of each other.  That's a feat unto itself considering we were scattered like ashes all over the country for such a long time.    We lived in Utah, Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, California,Pennsylvania, Massachusetts,and Virginia.  How did it happen that we all ended up living in Washington ?  We never had a family meeting to say: "Let's all move to Washington".  But somehow our spirits,our souls and our family bond brought each us together.

My sister and brother


 I know we had to each find our own path in life and follow our wandering souls and we did.  If you put together a list of previous addresses and former jobs of ours,well the addresses I'm sure would number in the hundreds and the jobs probably in the fifties.  What were we searching for all those years ?  I've always believed it to be a home.  No matter where we were living or what we were doing we stayed close to each other-I have no memories of sibling rivalry or fights or not speaking (other than a few brief moments when we were pre-teens!).
Growing up 

Our common bond was the dysfunctional family we grew up in. We protected and loved each other while the craziness swirled like a cyclone around us. That love got us through some very difficult times; the untimely deaths of close friends; two aunts and an uncle killed in a plane crash; suicide of our mother; and all the baggage that came with these events.  We watched relatives fight over possessions and vowed we would never become them.  We watched relatives quit speaking to each other and vowed we would never do that.  It wasn't easy to make it to where we are today.  We all have probably funded the college education of a great deal of children of our therapists ! And here we are many many years later-still speaking,still loving and still bonded together by our love. I love that we can get together to celebrate each other.  And this past weekend we celebrated J's birthday and Mel & Martha's upcoming wedding in Hawaii.

Mel and Martha


Instead of a cake I decided to do cupcakes for our celebration.  And not just any ordinary cupcakes !  I made Martha Stewart's Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes.  So rich and so good.  These are some of the richest cupcakes I have ever made. Well worth the effort for the family I so dearly love. 

The Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
2 large eggs 
3/4 cup buttermilk 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3/4 cup warm water 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.

Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.

To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. The caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up each time it sinks-this takes about 30- 45 minutes for the caramel to finally settle. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the caramel filling.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip  and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do not refrigerate or your caramel will harden !

Salted Caramel Filling
2 1/2 cups sugar 
2/3 cup water 
1 tablespoon light corn syrup 
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel 

Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water 
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled ( I ran out of semi sweet so I used bittersweet and it was delicious )

Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture. 

Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. 

Desmond Tutu 

No comments: