My real job took over any notion of the holidays this year. One day I worked 24 hours straight from 8 a.m. and my head did not hit the pillow until 9 a.m. the next day. I was delirious when December 25 rolled around and I’m still recovering. My job is not fun this time of year.
What suffered was the prospect of sending out postcards. Paul and I had a multitude of ideas rolling around but December 25 came and went without sending out one single card. Even worse, we still have presents to send out. Let’s not go there…
So as the cards started rolling in, our first as a married couple and some addressed as Mr. and Mrs., we had nothing to send back.
As I contemplate sending cards in time for
New Year’s Eve Valentine’s Day, a vanilla caramel salted cupcake was a small comfort.
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 c. whole milk, at room temperature
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until very light in color, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating until mixture is airy.
Scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to medium speed, and add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add milk and vanilla extract and mix until combined. (the mixture will look curdled.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined, about 15 seconds.
Fill the muffin wells about halfway, and bake cupcakes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Remove cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.
Salted Caramel Frosting
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. water
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. powdered sugar
Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes. (Anything darker and the caramel frosting will be bitter.)
Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until completely smooth. Set aside until cool to the touch, about 1 hour.
Combine butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.
Turn mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate until stiff, about 45 minutes, before using.
Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with a bit of salt.
Adapted from a recipe in Chow.