Cupcakes, all grown up

Yesterday we were invited to a party to watch football and eat turkey.  A group of 20 Hokie fans, ready for great food and a great ballgame. Little did we know we’d be watching the Georgia Tech team eat turkey as well.  It were UGLY, folks. Let’s move on from that.

I decided to contribute dessert, but time and budget were tight.  As you know, I am still involved in the Eat on $30 Challenge, so whatever I made needed to fit in that allowance.  I think I succeeded.

A few months ago, I ordered some cute baking cups from Bake It Pretty (love that shop!) that I hadn’t found a good use for.  You see, I wanted the dessert to not only taste good, but look good, too. Cupcakes, as we all know, taste fantastic, and they are perfect for parties because they are already portioned.  But they look, well, kiddie.  These brown baking cups remedied that.  So I made a box mix Devils Food Cake ($1.00) and filled each of the baking cups a little over half full.  No cupcake tin required, these little guys stand on their own.  The box mix makes about 25 of them.

Once they were baked, I let them cool a little while I made a Chocolate Cheesecake Buttercream (Cost? About $3.00) .  One day I will post the recipe for you – it’s one I adapted from Carrie at Fields of Cake.  It’s so whippy and delicious, and entirely too easy to be a good thing.  Plus, it holds up so well to piping, I imagine you could even pipe roses and other flowers from it instead of the crappy old Crisco icing.  I need to try that for you to make sure.

Before I iced them, I filled them full of Chocolate Bourbon Caramel, another gift from Carrie.  When I visited her a couple of weeks ago, she gave me a jar of this deliciousness. Chock full of Bourbon, it really warms your tummy.  I thought it was the perfect thing to compliment this cake, and made it stand out from your average picnic cupcake.  Then I piped on the buttercream and then topped it all off with the homemade Kahlua Caramel that I made a week or two ago.

Verdict?  Yum.  So rich and creamy, you can get over it being a box mix.  So pretty you can get over it being a cupcake.  Give it a try if you need something quick and painless, but I’ll warn you – they are hard to stop eating.

Here’s the recipe for Carrie’s Chocolate Bourbon Caramel…I don’t want you to be without it!

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Chocolate Bourbon Caramel

by Carrie Fields, of Fields of Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water – 3 Tbsp.
  • 3/4  cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp Bourbon
  • 3 ounces excellent quality dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup excellent quality sifted cocoa powder

Equipment

  • 2 or 3 quart, heavy-bottomed pot
  • candy thermometer
  • whisk

Step 1: Prep
Get all of your ingredients out and measure everything ahead of time, as the process goes quickly and it will make things run smooth for you. Cut the butter into Tablespoon sized pieces, it will help.

Step 2: Caramelize the sugars
In the pot, mix the sugar, salt, corn syrup, and water over low heat with a whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Raise heat to high then cover the pot and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove lid and boil mixture up to about 300° F. Remove from heat and swirl the pot gently. You’ll notice the mixture start to darken a bit. (It may be easier for you to watch the color to decide when to remove from the heat.  Watch it closely, as it will burn easily. You want tot color to be amber, maybe a little darker, as the residual heat will keep cooking it for a bit.)

Step 3: Incorporate the fats
Drop the butter pieces into the pot and whisk until the butter is incorporated. Next, pour in the cream and again, whisk until blended. Note: The butter and cream both have water, so they will cause the pot to bubble up and release very hot steam. Make sure to wear an oven mitt to protect your hands and forearms. Now mix in the bourbon and whisk until blended. Then add the chocolates and whisk again (like crazy!) until blended.  Allow to cool.

At room temperature, the caramel will be pourable and gooey.  When refrigerated, it becomes the consistency of the caramel found in a Twix bar.  Enjoy!

Day Six of the Eat on $30 Challenge saw us spending about $2 on Breakfast for Seven, $5 on Lunch for the 3 of us (Frozen Pizza and Kool Aid) and a total of about $5 for our contribution to the dinner party.  Total spent – $12.00