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Simply put, I love food. I revel in everything about it: taste, texture, preparation, presentation, etc. The most favored aspect for me is the social aspect of food…learning to cook from one’s mother, preparing food with friends, grilling out, potlucks, dinner parties or simply meeting for dinner. I light up watching the people I love eat the food that I create. It still truly amazes me how food brings us together. So a little about me. Now in my early 30s, I’ve learned all I know about cooking from my mother and grandmothers. My Midwestern roots are definitely reflected in my cooking style and the recipes that I choose as I am very “meat and potatoes” centric and heavy handed with the butter sometimes. More later, but for now Happy Nomming!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Coffee Cupcake (Literally) with Salted Caramel Frosting

So I part-time at a local tap room/restaurant and absolutely adore the people I work with!  When I started enjoying craft beer, this was the place I'd go.  Now that I've been working there, I've started creating recipes using beer.  This isn't one of those recipes, that was just an A.D.D. moment. 
Regardless, I bake something almost weekly and take it in to the restaurant to share.  Almost everyone has made a request of me at some point or another. Brownies, Cheesecake, MORE chocolate cookies or the occasional "Do you think you good make X?" (Fill in the blank).  Last week, one of the guys was going on about Starbucks' Salted Caramel Mocha and how he's become addicted to them (and this, folks, is why I call it Crackbucks).  He asked if I could make a baked good that tasted like that.  Challenge accepted.  While I don't think I nailed it at all, this cupcake is fridiculous!!!! Yea, I said FRIDICULOUS! Pretty sure the only way to improve it would be to make it a brown butter coffee cupcake and add some bacon...hmmm...maybe next time. ENJOY!

Literally Coffee Cake*
compliments of The Pioneer Woman

2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 sticks Butter
3 Tablespoons Instant Coffee Crystals or instant espresso
1/2 cup Buttermilk
2 whole Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two round baking pans or line muffin pan with cupcake liners.  In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
Melt 2 sticks of butter in a pot over medium-low heat. While that's melting, add 3 tablespoons instant coffee to 1 cup boiling water. Set aside.

Once butter has melted, add coffee mixture to the butter in the pot. Let it come to a boil for about ten seconds, then turn off the heat. Set aside for just a minute.

In a separate bowl, add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Pour the butter/coffee mixture into the flour mixture. Stir the mixture together gently. The purpose here isn’t to mix it together perfectly, but to cool down the heat before adding the egg mixture.
Add in the egg mixture and stir gently until well combined. Then pour into prepared pans (3/4 full for cupcakes). Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until set for cake rounds. Or, if making cupcakes, drop the temperature to 325 and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Allow to cool completely below icing with the ridiculous recipe that follows.

Salted Caramel Frosting
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy  cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 powdered sugar

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and stop stirring. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the caramel becomes a deep amber brown color, about 7-10 minutes. There's about a 1 minute window between dark amber & burned all to hell so keep an eye on it at 6 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly stir in heavy cream and vanilla. Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Cream the butter and salt together until fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until fully combined.  Add the caramel (once cooled to room temperature and beat again until fluffy.  You may have to add more powdered sugar to get the correct consistency.

Icing those bad boys and then drizzle chocolate syrup on them (I use dark. Always). Combine 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt with 1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder.  Garnish at will. Don't get carried away here, a few granules on each will make them pretty without being a salty coffeey chaos!

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