Last week I was in the mood to celebrate, so I decided to make myself the cupcake version of a chocolate turtle – a moist chocolate cupcake stuffed with homemade salted caramel and pecans.
I gilded the cupcake by topping it off with chocolate ganache frosting and a drizzle of more salted caramel. My tummy is grumbling just remembering these beauties.
What was I celebrating? Well, last week I ran my first fifty-plus week since I was pregnant with the baby. Okay, maybe she isn't a baby anymore. She's already 19 months old!
I love running, and I love sweets. It's sort of a dysfunctional coexistence, but I'd like to think that I balance the sugar intake with running 🙂
The salted caramel/pecan filling is so good that I started eating it with a spoon. Then I heard a little voice say, "Mommy! Mommy! Stop eating the candy for the cupcakes!" Ahh, the voice of reason coming from my five-year-old. Good thing she was there to stop me because the filling is amazingly addictive. I'm thinking of just making the filling one of these days and putting it over a scoop of ice cream. Or maybe just getting rid of the ice cream and eating the salted caramel/pecan filling all by its lonesome.
While these cupcakes may seem to have too many components to be considered simple, they're super easy to make because the process is easily broken down into steps. You can make the cupcakes, salted caramel filling, and ganache one day. The next day (the day you plan to eat or serve the cupcakes), mix the pecans into the salted caramel, whip the ganache, and assemble the cupcakes. Then you're done, and you can focus on gorging yourself with these confections!
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
3/4 tbs white vinegar
3 tbs vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard size cupcake tin with paper liners.
Mix the milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Let it stand (the milk will separate).
Sift the cocoa, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs, warm water, milk and vinegar mixture, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full of the batter.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the baking time.
Salted Caramel Filling
Adapted from the blog Sweet as Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs butter, cubed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs heavy cream at room temperature
Place the sugar in a medium-heavy-bottom pan. Cook over medium heat. Once the sugar at the edges of the pan starts to turn dark amber, use a heatproof spatula to drag the cooked sugar to the center of the pan. There's no need to continually mix. Allow all of the sugar to reach a deep, amber color. Watch the caramel carefully because it can easy turn from being a deep amber to being burnt!
Once the sugar is a deep enough color, add the butter, and stir until melted.
Then carefully add the salt and cream. At this point, the caramel will bubble vigorously, and it will be extremely hot. Please add the cream with caution. Whisk the mixture until smooth, and allow it to cool until it's a thick consistency.
12 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heat cream over a medium-low flame on the stove until simmering.
Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for a one minute. Add the vanilla then whisk the chocolate and cream mixture until smooth. Allow it to cool completely.
Then whisk the ganache until it is creamy and light.
Assemble the Cupcakes
2/3 cup chopped pecans
baked chocolate cupcakes
cooled salted caramel
whipped ganache frosting
sharp paring knife
Mix 1/2 of the salted caramel mixture with 1/4 of a cup of chopped pecans.
Carve out a 1 1/2 inch circle in the center of each cupcake using a sharp paring knife.
Fill the carved-out center with a heaping teaspoon of the salted caramel and pecan filling. Replace the top of the cupcake piece you carved out of the cupcake to cover the filling.
Dip the edges of each cupcake in the reserved salted caramel and rim with the remaining chopped pecans.
Top each cupcake with a generous scoop of ganache frosting, and drizzle with reserved salted caramel.
Yields 18 cupcakes
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