Friday, 4 June 2010


These cupcakes were for my English 12 class. 

No, I don’t bake regularly for my students, but generally I do so at least once for my Twelves before they leave our school.  

I have never made a buttercream from brown sugar before and it was quite fortuitous that I found a recipe for it at the last minute because I ran out of granulated sugar and had intended to top these chocolate cupcakes with a snowy white Swiss Meringue Buttercream.    Consider this a variation of the Best Chocolate Cupcake Ever…a Caramel version.
I love the smooth texture of the Swiss Meringue whipped silly until it’s silky smooth on the tongue.  This buttercream recipe is from my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.  It was doubled to frost 24 large cupcakes.   I recommend my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe.  However, if you’re in a crunch, just use a chocolate cake mix.  

The buttercream has a caramel flavour and is quite lovely against the chocolate cupcake. Swiss Meringue buttercreams pipe beautifully and hold up well in warm weather.

The kids seemed to love it and I thought it a shame that many kids today have never  had a REAL fresh cupcake made from scratch—ever.    What kind of society are we creating when the youth have only experienced mass-produced dry crumbly cupcakes swirled with achingly sweet shortening-based frostings made from confectioners’ sugar and studded with multi-coloured crunchy sprinkles? 
The top view…achieved by swirling from the outside in…of a Wilton 1M icing tip. 

****WARNING:  the buttercream will curdle.  You will then swear a deadly streak and think of sending me a wicked comment for this post.  However, you shall persevere and then commence to take a deep breath.  Switch from the paddle attachment back to the whisk and whisk at med-high speed until it all comes together again.  It’ll deflate considerably from its glorious fluffy mass and become rich and buttery looking.   Then, change back to the paddle attachment to eliminate any air bubbles.  The buttercream should be smooth.

I’ll repost the recipe here for my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe (so far!) and the Caramelly Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe is below it.  If you’re not up to making the cupcake part—as it requires you to make two separate batches, (according to the recipe, which doesn’t guarantee results if you simply double it) then one chocolate cake box mix will yield you a convenient 24 large cupcakes.  

I have had many comments on how successful this cupcake recipe is, so you ought to try it.   Tell me how you like this Caramel version over the original Vanilla Swiss Meringue version.  Hit the link below to see the recipe.

(from Cooks Illustrated, “American Classics 2009”)Cook's Illustrated
(makes 12 cupcakes; do not double recipe…make two separate batches if you need more)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (1/2 cup capacity) with baking-cup liners.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl to combine
  4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
  6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.
(adapted from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook)
NB:  This recipe has been doubled to cover 24 large cupcakes.  Makes about 4 cups.
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoons
  1. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch   (about 160°F).
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks.  Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition.  (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.)  Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes.  Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.


Kevin said...

Those look so good with all of that creamy frosting!

Y said...

That buttercream looks amaaayzing! I love using the swiss meringue method too - the end result tends to be so light and silky.

Trissa said...

Oooh... the buttercream topping is inspired. Thanks for sharing it - your 12 graders are so lucky to have eaten this.

Pam said...

Yum! They look gorgeous and delicious!

Yael said...

They look absolutely amazing! Guess I'll have to add these to my already long list of "to make".

Natalie... said...

Oooh that looks so good, i love swiss meringue buttercream it has such a gorgeous texture.

a. maren said...

wow, these look so amazing. caramel and chocolate! what a great combo!

Christine@Christine's Recipes said...

The chocolate cupcakes look fabulous.
I think your students would be very impressed and thankful to you.

Joanne said...

It is seriously tragic that so many kids have only ever eaten things like Twinkies and Ding Dongs. Home baked goods are just amazing in comparison. In fact, there is no comparison.

I love the sound of this buttercream! Such a nice subtly sweet flavor from the brown sugar.

Naomi said...

Stunning!! I love this!

Christiana said...

Simply a delicious blog! So glad I came across it! I want to take a bite of these right away. I am now a follower! If you want to take a look at my blog and let me know how it is!

Juliana said...

Wow, nice cupcakes, the buttercream looks delicious...very nice decorated :-)

Domestic Sugar said...

Thanks for the recipe. It sounds yummie. I hate swiss meringue.... or at least the fact that it always curdles. :( But it will come back, you are right! I'm excited to try this!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I'm loving your new blog design. These cuppies look delicious :)

gracie said...

They look so lovely! I could gobble a few up in one go!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! The pictures are amazingly beautiful. I've been looking for pretty icing for cupcakes, I have not baked very much before this year - will try your buttercream frosting soon.


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