A while ago, a friend of mine told me a trick for making caramel sauce that was, basically, foolproof. With an infant around, I don’t exactly have the time to babysit a pot of hot sugar on my stovetop, so the idea of a mason jar and a crock pot was incredibly appealing to me.
What you do is this: take a can of sweetened condensed milk, and empty it into a mason jar. Seal it up and place it in the crock pot, with enough water to cover the milk level, and simmer it on low for 8-10 hours. (You may have to add more water as it goes.) In my zeal, I made two jars at once, and promptly began to wonder what on earth I was going to do with two jars of caramel sauce. (Eating one with a spoon and pretending it never existed was not an option.)
Since Ian and I were planning to join friend of ours for dinner on Friday evening, I decided I would bring dessert — chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. They were a hit! However, afterward, I started thinking about it, and decided that the cupcakes would be even better with the addition of coffee. (I try to caffeinate whenever and wherever possible.) And, of course, I was right. Coffee makes everything better. Well, almost everything.
- 2/3 cups cocoa
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 375°F; mix all dry ingredients together as listed. Stir in liquid ingredients, pour into lined, greased muffin tin and bake 25 minutes or until done. Makes 24 cupcakes.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 2/3 cup caramel sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whip together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, and pipe onto cupcakes using a pastry bag. Sprinkle with your choice of coarse salt — I used Hiwa Kai salt from Gryffon Ridge for contrast with the icing.