Caramel Cupcakes with Vanilla Almond Buttercream

caramel cupcakesIn this age of fancy-looking cupcakes, when many a blogger can present the kind of artistic creations that were once reserved for food magazines, I find myself incapable of successfully piping buttercream icing onto regular-sized cupcakes.

While cream cheese frosting flows freely from my piping bag in elegant swirls, buttercream reduces me to the amateur of amateurs. Miniature cupcakes are easier; with such little surface area, you really just need a blob to cover them. But regular-sized cupcakes are another matter entirely, and I simply can’t manage to produce the kind of effect I’d like. We all have our shortcomings, I suppose.

After attempting to pipe this frosting and discovering that my skills were once again lacking, I took hold of my trusty offset spatula. One advantage to frosting cupcakes by hand is that they take on a lovely old-fashioned look, befitting a classic flavor like the caramel of these cupcakes. This recipe was adapted from a few others I’ve seen online to incorporate much more vanilla, and I chose to frost them with a vanilla almond buttercream, rather than a salted caramel or other trendy flavor, to create a more classic treat. Caramel and vanilla are good flavor friends, and according to Mike the almond adds another dimension, which is exactly what I’d hoped to create. If only I weren’t fasting from sugar right now, I’d probably have already eaten a few myself!

Caramel Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe yields about 18 cupcakes.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk in alternate batches, starting and ending with the flour and scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Batter will be fluffy.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared pans, filling about half-full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Mine baked for 21 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in pans for just a minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon almond extract

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine. Taste; add more extract if desired.

Frost cupcakes using an offset spatula.

 

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