Friday, 30 September 2011

Cupcakes A to Z: 100 Grand Cupcakes

When I was in Florida in September (that's for another post!), I picked up a "few" things that we just can't get in Canada.  Seriously - Americans don't know how good they have it.  There's all kind of things we can't get in Canada - Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light, Cream of Shrimp Soup, 100 Grand Bars, and the list goes on.  I seriously need a shopper in the States who can hook me up with groceries and send them to me!  lol!  Any takers?

There are even different chocolate bars and chips there that we can't get in Canada.   And before I started this project, I'd never even HEARD of 100 Grand Bars.  And they went on my "grocery" list for when Mom and I were on our trip.  You can't really imagine how excited I was to wander into Walmart and find them! 

So before I made these cupcakes I wanted to try the bars before committing them to a cupcake.  The packaging describes them as "chewy caramel, milk chocolate, and crispy crunchies".  Turns out they're like a Nestle Crunch bar wrapped around a chewy caramel.  So pretty much like the package says.  And I think they're super yummy!

The recipe for these cupcakes came from Jessica at The Novice Chef.  She's completely hilarious and I love her blog.  She used the Hershey's Chocolate Cupcake recipe and the Salted Caramel Frosting from Jamie at My Baking Addiction (who I also adore).  However, I switched up the caramel frosting.

I've made a "Caramel Frosting" before - you might remember that - I was happy with the way that it turned out, but I was totally confident that I could find a better one.

So I made my own caramel.  No seriously!  And I was completely terrified - I mean, a sugar burn (although I've never experienced one on my own) is pretty scary stuff.  The hot sugar basically GLUES itself to your skin and burns merrily away.  I kind of like my skin.  It keeps all my junk inside.

The first attempt resulted in burning the caramel.  I forget that my oven + my (gorgeous) pots = really high temperatures.  And sugar turns to caramel and burns in like four seconds flat.  I was positive my smoke alarms would go off - but I ran outside like a crazy person with the pot and tried to figure out what to do next.  I waited a couple of minutes and ended up putting the pot down on the deck (crossing my fingers I wouldn't somehow manage to ruin it - which is just my luck), grabbing the bacon grease can and pouring as much of the caramel out of the pot as I could.  Then I had to clean up that mess and try again. 

On Round 2, I stood there and watched that sugar like a hawk watches a mouse.  The SECOND it was kind of almost light brownish, I whipped it off the burner and added in the cream.  Make sure to add the cream slowly if you choose to make caramel - it has a tendency to splatter.  I used a deep pot, so I wasn't too worried about it, but was sure to add in the cream slowly and stir like a mad woman.

Boiling sugar - this is when I pulled it off the burner

And it totally worked.  It was a beautiful color and smooth and creamy - I almost wept.  And then I did Big Happy Dance.  After adding to the creamed butter and icing sugar, the final frosting was smooth, creamy, and perfect.  It piped beautifully.  If you want a REALLY significant caramel flavour, I would double the caramel that gets added to the butter and icing sugar.  But as it is - it's perfect with the chocolate cupcake.

I also realised after the fact that the recipe calls for salted butter - I used unsalted.  *shrugs*  Oh well.  Would the salt make a huge difference?  Who CARES - it was wonderful anyway!
Caramel perfection

Pretty beaten butter!

Caramel + butter + icing sugar = *DROOL*

Now that I've gone on and on about the frosting - let's just go back to the cupcake.  Now, I used the Hershey's Chocolate Cupcakes recipe, but since Hershey's cocoa is not actually AVAILABLE in Canada (or at least in my neck of the woods), I just used Fry's.  I suppose cocoa powder is cocoa powder.  Now, the recipe said that it would be runny, but it was REALLY runny.  It looked like pancake batter.  I was nervous.
Hello, Chocolate
The Cane Girl is not responsible for the loss of your digit if you stick it in there.

So - for these 100 Grand Cupcakes, you freeze a 100 Grand bar, cut it up, and drop it into the batter.  The idea is that the cupcake will bake around the bar and when you bite into the cupcake, you bite through a chocolate bar.  Sounds cool right?
Chopped 100 Grand Bars ready to go
100 Grand Bars languishing in their cake batter
Naked cupcakes

And here it is - 100 Grand Cupcakes.  A chocolate cupcake filled with a 100 Grand Bar and topped with Caramel Frosting and 100 Grand Bar pieces.  Except for this one - cause I kinda forgot.

Stop licking your screen and pay attention for a sec.

I'm about to show you a horror.  Now - I'd like you to think that I'm some kind of savant and that I created this beautiful masterpiece and all was fine and dandy.  But sadly - it didn't work out for me.  Maybe the batter was too thin.  Maybe I should have floured the bar (or dusted it with cocoa - thanks Kay!).  Who knows.  The CUPCAKE however was absolutely moist and decadent.  I'm not going to lie - I was a little disappointed that it wasn't EXACTLY what I was expecting.  I guess at some point I'll try it again.....  And even though it didn't work out it was still yummy.  I even took some for Kay and force fed them to her and she concurred.  But I was also holding a big stick (read: broom) at the time so she may have felt obligated to tell me they were delicious to avoid bodily harm.

But you really need to see what happened on the inside.
See all the crunchy nugget and caramel goodness at the bottom?  That's not supposed to happen.
Maybe next time it'll work out.  And even though it wasn't perfect, I will say again that I was so so happy with the frosting and the cupcake.

The recipe for this is below.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.
(Oh - I should mention that I halved the recipe and got 12 cupcakes, but the recipe here is the original for 24 cupcakes)

100 Grand Cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder (I just used Fry's)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
8 100 Grand snack size chocolate bars, cut into thirds (and frozen solid!)

1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar

To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In mixer bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Don't worry if it's a little lumpy from the cocoa - it will smooth out.
  3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla to the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in boiling water.  The batter will be quite thin.  Mix well.
  5. Line muffin tins with paper baking cups and fill each cup 2/3 full with cake batter.  Add one piece of frozen 100 Grand Bar to each cup.  You could add an additional tablespoon of batter or VERY gently press down on the chocolate bar to make sure the bar is completely covered.
  6. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the top of the cupcake springs back when gently pressed.
  7. Let cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
  1. In a heavy pot, briefly stir together the sugar and water to combine.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Continue cooking without stirring, until the sugar mixture turns amber in color, about 6 - 7 minutes.  (Mine didn't take this long, but I wasn't timing)
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and SLOWLY add in the cream and vanilla (a slow drizzle works just fine), while stirring with a wooden spoon until creamy and smooth.  Be sure to be careful as the mixture will bubble up and might splatter.
  3. Cool mixture completely to room temperature.
  4. Once the caramel mixture is cool, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy and light.  About three minutes.
  5. On low speed, add in the icing sugar and mix until well blended and smooth. 
  6. Turn off mixer and add caramel.  Stir on low to combine and then beat on medium high speed until airy and well mixed.  About 2 minutes.
  7. Refrigerate if not using immediately or if the frosting is too soft to pipe.  (I didn't find it too soft)
Chocolate Cupcakes - Jessica at The Novice Chef
Caramel Frosting - Ali at Gimme Some Oven

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