Take a good look at that photo. That’s a dark chocolate cupcake with toffee bits mixed in, topped with chocolate ganache, piped with salted caramel frosting, and sprinkled with more toffee bits.
Yeah, I’m not kidding.
Decadent is an understatement.
And these cupcakes are an undertaking. I made the cakes on one day, waited through a water main break the next, and worked on the ganache and frosting over 48 hours after I began. Embarking on this process wreaked havoc on my kitchen counter.
While making these, I questioned my sanity. I asked myself whether taking each (sometimes painstaking) step would be worth it. I may have even let it slip to CV that this involved the most high-maintenance frosting I have ever made, and to enjoy the cupcake I was bringing her tomorrow, because I would never be making these again.
And then I sneaked a little fingerful of frosting. Salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream, to be exact. And I let a stream of expletives fly out of my mouth that Wooden Nickels would have been ashamed to hear. Sweet heavenly Lord, my apologies to the big man upstairs,
but these are good.
Luxurious in every sense of the word.
Especially when you see how much butter goes into them.
What, who said that?
Dear readers, this is busy season. Your calendar is no doubt packed with social engagements from now till the new year. If you’re wondering what to bring to take the stress off of your hosts, and knock the socks off everyone you’ve ever met, you’ve found it here.
Toffee crunch cupcakes.
Forevermore known to me as OMG cupcakes.
To make a dozen cupcakes, you will need:
- 1 C flour
- 1 C + 2 T sugar
- 1/3 C + 2 T cocoa powder (I used Valrhona from Whole Foods)
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 T instant coffee powder dissolved in 1/2 C boiling water
- 1/2 C toffee bits (with or without chocolate)
To make the ganache, you will need:
- 2/3 C dark chocolate (I used Guittard)
- 2 T heavy cream
- 4 T powdered sugar
- 1 T water (possibly more)
To make the Swiss meringue buttercream you will need:
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/2 C sugar
- 4 sticks butter, diced, and softened (Yeah, unfortunately, you read that right. Trust me?)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 T vanilla
- 1/3 C caramel sauce (I used store-bought)
And to put these cupcakes over the top, you will need:
- Some more toffee bits
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Put the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and mix till combined. Whisk the butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a medium bowl for 2 minutes. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk till well blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the coffee and stir again till batter is smooth. Divide evenly among muffin tins and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a tester in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack and let cupcakes cool completely.
You can prepare these a day or two ahead up to this point.
Before starting ganache, set cupcakes in freezer to firm them slightly. To prepare the ganache, set the chocolate and cream in a heat-proof (glass works) bowl over a pot of simmering water and let sit for 2-3 minutes without stirring. Gently stir mixture to combine. Add powdered sugar and stir till smooth. Remove bowl from heat, and add water, stirring till incorporated. You want the texture to be thick, but somewhat runny. Glaze-like. Set aside and let cool to warm.
To prepare buttercream, constantly whisk egg whites and sugar in a bowl over simmering water till they reach a temperature of 150 degrees (I used a candy thermometer and got to about 145 before realizing this was process was probably just to cook out the salmonella and I could be done already. Sorry friends, how’s that for honesty?). By the time you’ve hit the desired temperature, the sugar should be completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a mixer, and beat on medium high for 8-10 minutes, until the mixture thickens and stiff peaks form.
While you do this, grab those cupcakes out of the freezer and start dunking them in your ganache. You want a thin, even layer over each one. Once you’ve dunked all 12, put them in the fridge for the chocolate to set, and continue on with the buttercream.
By this time, you should be able to touch the bowl, and the mixture should have cooled significantly. Add salt and vanilla on low speed. Beat in caramel sauce until incorporated.
Place the massive amounts of frosting into a piping bag (or be low-key and use a gallon sized Ziploc with the corner snipped off), and go to town, piping a big old swirl on top of these already beautiful babies.
Top with more toffee bits and wow your friends and neighbors.
*A note -The frosting’s consistency is at its best at room temperature. If you must refrigerate your cupcakes, let them come to room temp before serving.
*Another note – The recipe for buttercream yielded about twice as much as I needed. But this is my first go-round with the frosting, and I didn’t feel confident cutting a recipe that called for 5 eggs in half. So make it as written,and keep a million extra little spoonfuls of frosting in your fridge. Not that I know anything about that.