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Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Pecan Coconut Brittle Crumble and Caramel Swiss Buttercream
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Makes 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs

Homemade Salted Caramel (Gooey Love)

Sea salt

Caramel Swiss Buttercream

Pecan Coconut Brittle

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Add the vanilla to the milk and set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at a medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once incorporated, add the eggs one at a time at a low speed. Be sure to incorporate after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Do not over beat. Once incorporated, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. Alternate with 3 parts flour and 2 parts milk, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary (we don’t want any butter chunks stuck to the bottom).

Fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full and bake for 22 minutes (start checking cupcakes at 15 minutes). The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to finish cooling on a wire rack (or counter top).

To assemble: Core each cupcake and fill with Gooey Love. Sprinkle with some sea salt. Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of Caramel Swiss Buttercream and garnish with crumbled Pecan Coconut Brittle. Eat.


Homemade Salted Caramel (Gooey Love):

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

1 tablespoon sea salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, 1 cup water and corn syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the ingredients, swirling the pot occasionally, until the mixture is a beautiful amber color (watch closely). Once the desired color is reached, immediately add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. Remove from the heat. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Once incorporated, set aside to cool completely. Sprinkle sea salt over the cooled caramel.


Caramel Swiss Buttercream:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

5 large egg whites

2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup Gooey Love

Combine the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place over simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and place under a mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk at a medium-high speed until soft peaks form and it cools to room temperature. Add the butter and beat until incorporated. Slowly add the Gooey Love. Yield: about 5 cups.


Pecan Coconut Brittle:

2 sticks salted butter, plus more for greasing, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

2 cups pecan halves

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Butter a full size sheet pan and set aside. In a 2-quart saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a full boil. Continue boiling until a candy thermometer reaches 270 degrees F. Once the desired temperature is reached, remove from the heat and immediately add the pecans and baking soda. Mix well and pour onto the prepared pan. Spread with a rubber spatula and top with the coconut. Allow to cool. Once cool, break the brittle into pieces (of desired size). Yield: 3 pounds.

Recipe courtesy Nicole Costa and Rebecca Clanton, "Cupcake Wars 2012," Food Network.


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