Maybe I’m defective. Because (sighs and looks down) I just really don’t like chocolate that much. It’s not that there’s anything WRONG with it, but without other things like nuts or coconut or peanut butter or bacon, chocolate just seems a bit – well – boring. I wasn’t even going to give it a high-five on National Chocolate Day, but then I felt a little sad, knowing I was hoarding a perfectly wonderful recipe that so far has only made one public appearance (at a very cool vintage picnic created by my friend Susie). Since hoarding is a sin and I’m really trying to get better at this whole “living holy” thing, I guess it’s time to share the recipe. It’s chocolate – and a whole lot more.
My friend Courtney and I call these “Dirty Little Angels” because they are salted caramel brownies INSIDE a vanilla cupcake, topped with rich mocha frosting. The whole salty/sweet combo is pretty heavenly, and the mocha buttercream frosting is a fun twist on the best frosting recipe ever (I don’t lie – seriously, it’s the best).
So here’s to you, chocolate (and sea salt caramel and vanilla and butter and sugar). I guess you’re pretty OK after all. Enjoy your special day!
Dirty Little Angels (makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)
Sea Salt Brownies
Though you can find several recipes online for these treats, make it easy on yourself! Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme brownie mix is a perfect partner for your salted caramel sauce (adapted from Baking Illustrated). Or cheat a bit and purchase a great quality caramel sauce, sprinkling it with sea salt.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 c. granulated sugar
6 T. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 t. fine sea salt
2/3 c. heavy cream, at room temperature
1 t. flaked sea salt (for sprinkling on top)
In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. Some of the sugar may harden into clumps, but keep whisking until the sugar turns to a rich amber color. Whisk in salt and butter, continuing to mix until they are well blended. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in heavy cream, stirring until the sauce is smooth. Cool for 10-15 minutes before adding to your brownies. Make the brownies according to package directions, swirling with the salted caramel sauce before baking. Sprinkle a bit more sea salt on top of the brownies if you’re so inclined! Once your brownies are baked, cool to room temperature, eat a square or two, and then using a teaspoon, transform those brownies into 1” round balls. Pop the brownie balls into the freezer until you’re ready to use them (save any extras for a yummy brownie sundae).
Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes (from Glorious Treats)
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with whisk, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil, beat. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined, scraping down the side of the bowl. Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners. Fill liners about 1/2 full.
Pop a brownie ball into the center of each cupcake, and bake for 12-14 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch. Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Mocha Buttercream Frosting
To make Mocha Buttercream Frosting: Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream in microwave or on stovetop until hot but not bubbling. Add 2 T. espresso powder and 2 t. cocoa to cream, mix and let cool. Use flavored cream in the Best Buttercream Cupcake Frosting recipe found at susiedavis.org .