Fall baking begins!

Over the past two weeks, I have gotten some (good-natured?) Minnesotan passive aggressive pressure for a new cupcake.  Believe me, if I could have stood to bake every single weekend all summer, I would have!  But it was too hot and I’d rather lay by the pool 🙂

So, with the arrival of fall colors and cooler temperatures, I broke out cinnamon and allspice and went to town.  And by town, I mean the grocery store early on a Sunday morning while still wearing Saturday’s makeup.  Since I was basically half asleep while mindlessly grabbing ingredients I had run out of (every type of sugar imaginable), I for sure had to go back to the store later to get things I’d forgotten about….like real food for me to eat.

The cupcake flavor of the week is an apple cinnamon cupcake with a salted caramel buttercream frosting.  Yum!  I got the recipe here and followed it pretty closely.   Now, they say these take 1.5 hours of prep time…I call shenanigans!  Are they baking with The Flash??  Maybe it took me so long because I kept getting distracted and taking breaks.  I didn’t use their recipe for the caramel sauce though….I tried, and failed.  So I found this blog post that gave more details that were helpful for a novice caramel maker like myself.  It turned out pretty well!  The left overs are sitting in my fridge….and it’s taking a lot of self-control not to eat a spoonful for breakfast.  I should be rewarded….with a spoon full of caramel for breakfast.

 

mmmmm caaarmel.

I woke up last Sunday and felt really ambitious.  That rarely happens.  So, I decided to trek into more uncharted territory and make salted caramel cupcakes.  Best decision of my life so far.  Well, that might be a stretch, but it’s right up near the top of the list.  Lucky for me, I found a recipe that made it pretty easy!

This whole ordeal was full of firsts for me.  I’ve never had/made a brown sugar cupcake before.  It may be my favorite kind of cupcake.  I don’t know how I’ve lived this long and never made them before!  Super simple and crazy good.

Also, I’ve never made filled cupcakes before.  Fortunately, I got this cool little tool for removing the stems from strawberries at Williams Sonoma, and that worked perfectly to make a tiny little divot to fill with caramel-y goodness.

AND I’d never worked with homemade caramel before.  Who knew that you can dump a little sugar and some magic in a pan and it makes caramel?  It’s not surprisingly delicate to work with.  It can go from perfect to a black mess in a blink.  I have more sympathy for those caramel-burning pastry chefs on Cupcake Wars now.  Seriously, every week, someone burns the caramel.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t totally thrilled with the frosting at first.  All I could taste was butter.  BUT when I ate one later, it was delicious and I could taste the caramel.  I think I was just used to eating (drinking?) the real stuff from the pan.