Want delicious mouth watering cupcakes? Try salted caramel. Ever wonder why salted caramel is such a crowd pleaser? The flavors of salty and sweet are balanced leaving you satisfied with just one cupcake (or maybe two). Caramel is great on it's own but add salt and suddenly its a grown up treat. Making your own caramel can take time but the end result is worth the effort. This cupcake is a chocolate cake with a salted caramel filling and a salted caramel buttercream. The trick here is to try to leave enough caramel to complete the cupcakes (and stop licking your spoon along the way). It is also a great cupcake to share during Ramadan or for Eid.
Therapeutic topic of the week:
Depression. There are many models and theories that have had success in treating depressive symptoms. The most effective research based treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Many therapeutic methods have been studied, but cognitive-behavioral therapy is the only modality that has been shown to work effectively. In fact, treatment of depression through cognitive-behavioral methods has the capacity to produce long-lasting, permanent relief from the sadness and loneliness. Depression responds to relatively short-term therapy, depending on the severity of the condition. CBT has a good evidence base in terms of its effectiveness in reducing symptoms and preventing relapse. It has been clinically demonstrated in over 400 studies to be effective for many psychiatric disorders and medical problems for both children and adolescents.
Relaxation techniques help individuals develop the ability to more effectively cope with the stresses that contribute to depression, as well as with some of the physical symptoms of stress. The techniques taught include breath re-training and exercise. Help to bring your body and mind more regularly into a state of relaxation and calm by practicing simple relaxation exercises, ideally on a regular basis to establish a steady relaxing routine at least in part of your life. Practicing relaxation techniques can improve how you physically respond to stress by: slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, slowing your breathing rate, reducing the need for oxygen, increasing blood flow to major muscles, and reducing muscle tension.
For the cupcakes:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup greek yogurt
For the filling:
2½ cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
¾ cup heavy cream, warmed
2¼ tsp. fleur de sel
For the frosting:
1¼ cup sugar, divided
5 tbsp. water
5 tbsp. heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt, such as fleur de sel
5 large egg whites
3¾ sticks (30 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In another medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to blend.
Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the yogurt, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
To make the filling, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has melted into a syrup. Stop stirring and gently swirl the pan, using a pastry brush dipped in water to wipe down any bits of sugar stuck to the sides of the pan. Continue to boil, swirling occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber color and it registers 340˚ F on the thermometer. Very slowly pour in the cream in a slow, steady stream down the inside edge of the pan, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt.
Let the caramel filling mixture cool just until very slightly thickened and cool enough to handle. Carefully transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip and inject a small amount of filling directly into the center of each cupcake.
To make the caramel buttercream, place ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Mix in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color, watching it carefully to avoid burning. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt. Set aside and let cool.
Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more. Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe a swirl of frosting on each cupcake. When you are ready to serve, top each cupcake with a salted caramel or Valrhona pearls if desired.
Slightly adapted from Annie's Eats