Cupcake Series: Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

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Hello everybody!

The semester is drawing to an end, the libraries are becoming inundated with panicking pupils, and the prospect of final exams is hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. On the other hand, I did walk into lab this afternoon and notice a new extra-small lab coat hanging on the door, which is probably a sign that I am not getting voted off the island. So there’s that.

All silver linings aside though, clearly the time has come for mass baking chocolate cupcakes.

So this week, if you’re in need of a little pick-me-up, whip up a batch of the next installment of the cupcake series: chocolate turtle cupcakes. Based on the classic DeMet’s confection, these treats are a delightful concoction of rich chocolate, creamy caramel, and crunchy pecans. They start with a base from my classic chocolate cupcake recipe, then get piled up with heaps of caramel whipped cream cheese frosting before being drizzled in both chocolate and caramel and topped with a toasted pecan. And yes, they are amazing.

Happy baking, good luck with finals to all of my fellow commiserators, and hope you enjoy!

Happy almost-summer-break-hooray,
Anne

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Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Makes 14 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcake:
See recipe for classic chocolate cupcakes.

Caramel Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
8 soft caramel candies
2 tbs milk, any kind

Chocolate and Caramel Drizzles:
1/4 cup chocolate chips (use milk chocolate for extra authenticity!)
4 soft caramel candies
2-4 tablespoons of cream

To Serve:
14 toasted pecans (I toast at 350 ºF for 5 minutes to enhance the crunch factor!)

Directions:

Chocolate Cupcake:
See recipe for classic chocolate cupcakes.

Caramel Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer or an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. At this stage, distinct peaks that gently curl and topple over should form when the beaters are lifted out of the mixture. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, melt together the caramels and the milk using the microwave, removing to stir every 15 seconds until well combined.
  3. In a second bowl, use a stand mixer or an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and caramel sauce until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Transfer in the whipped cream and continue beating until fully incorporated. The frosting should be stiff but smooth and easily hold peaks. Set aside for decorating!

Chocolate and Caramel Drizzles:

  1. Using a microwave, melt the chocolate chips into 1 tbs of the cream, removing to stir every 15 seconds. Add up to 1 more tbs of cream as needed so that when a spoon is dipped and lifted out of the warm chocolate mixture, a thin, continuous thread of chocolate sauce forms.
    Tip: Keep reheating the mixture as you add in cold cream in order to correctly gauge the thickness of the sauce. Remember that the chocolate should only flow well at warm temperatures when you are drizzling the sauce, but should be stable enough to mostly solidify when the cupcakes cool to room temperature.
  2. Repeat this process in another bowl, using the caramels instead of chocolate chips to make caramel sauce. Set both aside for decorating!

Assembly:

  1. Using a large open star tip, pipe a generous swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake, applying uniform pressure as you swirl from the outside in.
    Tip: I used the Wilton 1M piping tip, but any large tip of your choice would do. A word of caution – if you plan to use a closed star tip like the Wilton 2D for a more ruffled effect, I recommend further thinning the caramels with an extra 1 tbs milk and mixing in half of the whipped cream at a time when you are making the frosting. Otherwise, small caramel pieces or chunks of solid cream cheese may get stuck in your tip and ruin your piping.
  2. Reheat the chocolate and caramel drizzles until they are warm enough to run easily. Using a small spoon, drizzle the chocolate back and forth across the top of the frosted cupcakes, then drizzle the caramel back and forth in the perpendicular direction to create a cross-hatched design.
  3. Top with a toasted pecan and enjoy!

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