Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crème Brulee Cupcakes

My sister Amy's 29th birthday was a special enough occasion that it warranted two types of cupcakes - the first batch that Breena and I tackled were the Margarita cupcakes. The second batch that I selected were
Crème Brulee cupcakes - one, because Amy and I both love crème brulee (who doesn't?) but two, because they sounded like a fun thing to make (hello, blow torch anyone?)

So I proudly present our batch of Crème Brulee cupcakes, which required multiple steps and the aforementioned blow torch, but was so worth it in the end!

Crème Brulee Cupcakes from Beantown Baker
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk - (I always use skim milk and never notice a difference)
3 tablespoons caramel syrup - (Like Jen, I used Smuckers ice cream topping)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk.

Add caramel syrup and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into batter.

Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.
At this point, I was a little alarmed at how the cupcakes were turning out.  They kept caving in the middle and seemed a little too sticky in texture on top. But we kept the faith, realizing that the frosting would be the true standout of these cupcakes.

Brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream

1 cup light brown sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees).

Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.

The resulting frosting is very light and silky in texture, very similar to the frosting on the Brown Sugar Praline Cupcakes I had made for Cupcake Camp Boston.
To assemble cupcakes

Remove center of cupcake using the cone method (which we didn't do since our cupcakes had conveniently collapsed and created their own craters). Fill cupcake with buttercream. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and caramelize with crème brulee torch.

This is the part where we put the birthday girl to work.  We thought of it as a part of her birthday gift.  We handed her the crème brulee torch and had her working hard on caramelizing the brown sugar.

I had read some comments on the Beantown Baker blog where people were having trouble with having their frosting melt off while using a torch.  With this in mind, we refrigerated the cupcakes before torching and put them back in the fridge right after. Amy was also careful to maintain a distance away from the frosting and stopped torching once the sugar started melting. Keep in mind that the sugar will continue to caramelize some more after you torch it, so you don't have to keep the flame on it for a long time.

Put simply, it was fun to watch the sugar melt:

We weren't quite sure how much brown sugar to put on top, so we went with roughly two teaspoons per cupcake

Which seemed to work out well in the end
Overall, the cupcakes were a success. We gave some extra cupcakes to Andrew's parents and our real estate agent (if you read a previous post, you'll note that we're not buying a new house for ourselves!), and they both loved the Crème Brulee cupcakes. In fact, it was the first time that our agent ever asked me for a recipe (and we fed her plenty of baked goods during our own house-hunting search).  They require a little extra work from your ordinary cupcake, which I think makes them the perfect special occasion treat!


Jen said...

Yay! So glad you liked them. Hubby was just asking if I could make these again some time soon.

bcallegra said...

Definitely a combination of two of my favorite things! I've been on a run of using your recipes (as usual) so expect to see your name popping up a few more times in the coming weeks. :)

spongeamy said...

my fave!!! :)