July 15, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

Hello! I've been absent for the past few weeks (again) but during that time, I was searching for a new mixer since my old one became useless for baking. I was thinking of getting a KitchenAid mixer, since so many bakers own one, but its expensive price put me off. So when I couldn't decide between the Sunbeam Planetary Mixmaster and the Breville Scraper Mixer Pro, I chose Breville because of the great reviews it had and the features which stood out to me. And can I tell you that was the best decision I have ever made! I am so happy and proud to be the owner of such an amazing mixer. It does all the work for me and makes baking a breeze. Now I have a second helper in the kitchen. So to celebrate the purchase of my new mixer, I made some vanilla cupcakes with caramel swiss meringue buttercream.

The picture above is of course, none other than my shiny new mixer! I am so in love with it and the sound of the motor is so quiet that I can concentrate on doing other things. It also has a count up or down timer which is handy to prevent overmixing and to indicate how long it has been mixing. It whips icing wonderfully, creams butter and sugar until light and fluffy in seconds, and mixes cake batter thoroughly. Oh and did I mention that it came with an ice cream bowl? Yep, it makes ice cream in just 10-20 minutes. I'm getting a little carried away here with my mixer, so let's talk cupcakes!

I had found The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake bookmarked in my browser which I intended to try before but didn't have the chance to, so it was a great opportunity to try the recipe with my new mixer. It requires quite a few more ingredients than your average vanilla cupcake, but when mixed together, it produces vanilla-y, light and fluffy cupcakes that matches really well with the caramel buttercream. Talking about swiss meringue buttercream, adding caramel sauce to it transforms it from ordinary to something special with a rich caramel flavour that melts in your mouth. The unbelievably silky smooth, not too sweet texture makes swiss meringue buttercream among the best frostings to use for cakes and cupcakes.

The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake adapted from the Cupcake Project.
Makes 16 cupcakes
1 and 3/4 cups of cake flour (plain/all-purpose flour is fine)
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
57 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Prepare the cupcake pans with paper cupcake liners.

2. In a medium bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt until well combined.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sour cream and vanilla extract until combined and smooth.

4. Add the butter and mix on a medium-low speed for about three minutes. This will turn into a fine crumb texture.

5. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, beating on a medium speed until just incorporated.

6. Slowly add the milk to the batter and mix on a low speed until just combined.

7. Fill the cupcake liners until just over half full. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If they are not done, check them again in 2 minutes. They should be white in colour but not golden brown. Remove them from the pan immediately and allow to cool completely before decorating.

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart.
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
180 grams of unsalted butter, chopped into pieces and softened at room temperature


1. Place 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar and the water in a medium saucepan and boil at a medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan ocasionally until it turns into a dark amber caramel. Wash the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent the sugar crystals from forming. Remove from the heat, and whisk the cream into the caramel until smooth. Set aside to cool.

2. Place the egg whites and remaining sugar into a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk the egg whites until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch. If you have a candy thermometer, it should reach 160 degrees when inserted into the mixture.

3. Remove from the heat, and transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on a medium speed for about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form for about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, and add the pieces of butter one at a time, waiting for them to incorporate before adding the next piece. Whisk in the vanilla until combined. If the mixture is soupy, put it in the fridge for 15 minutes and whisk again. It will likely to come to the curdled stage, but keep whisking until it turns into a smooth buttercream. 

4. Switch to the paddle attachment. Mixing on a low speed, add the caramel slowly and beat until smooth, for about 3-5 minutes. Best used immediately.

Decorate the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream, using a 1M star tip. Top with sprinkles if desired.

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