Ready? It's spring.
Time to give something to somebody.
Didn't you know that's what spring means? I'm pretty sure that's what spring means.
Gifts for all!
Not like Christmas, where it's expensive and ritualized. It's okay to have expensive and ritualized gifts in winter, because winter symbolizes lack, and opulent gifts suggest abundance.
I'm getting mythological on you here. Stay with me, please.
But springtime? It's time for light gifts, for fun, for friendships. For flair.
These cupcakes really go far. They spread out.
Unless you want to eat all twenty four yourself.
No judgments here.
These are good cupcakes to give to people you care about, to help them know it.
They are sticky licky good.
The frosting is cream cheese, which is just swell contrasted with the super-sweet caramel cake.
You could dizzle a few grains of salt on top too, if you wanted. To make it sparkle.
Fancy salt! If you wanted.
And then? Share them.
And then? Take a big breath of the warming up outside air.
And then? Feel happy.
Drizzled Caramel Cupcakes (adapted from Joy the Baker)
For the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup caramel, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Beat on medium for one minute. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition. Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.
Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture. Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk. Beat until just incorporated. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula. Try not to over mix the mixture.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.
To make the frosting:
Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and caramel. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color. Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting.
Heat a few spoonfuls of caramel over a low flame until just pourable. Then drizzle it over the cupcakes and top with a few sprinkles or with sea salt.