I’m on a salted caramel kick right now. It’s a pretty trendy flavour as it is but it is for a good reason. It’s delicious. I’ve also been looking for a great vanilla cupcake recipe for the longest time, and I think I found it! It’s perfectly light, rises beautifully, and has that perfect little crispy top that is great with swiss meringue buttercream. Yum.
Despite how well this turned out, it was not that great at first. The cupcake batter looked weirdly thin to me. It was only 1 1/4 cup of flour in the original recipe, and it was almost soupy it was so thin. I was not a fan. So I added 1/4 cup of flour more and it looked perfect. Then, the swiss meringue buttercream failed terribly. It looked like puke. And then immediately after, my caramel totally failed. I thought I had burned it. I contemplated calling it crème brulée swiss meringue buttercream but then my SMB totally failed anyway so I was like maybe I’ll try to turn the caramel into whipped cream? I thought that the chemical structure of the cream wouldn’t have changed too much from the heat of the caramel since whipped cream is basically just cream and sugar anyway.
So I whipped that for about 15 minutes. Hopeless. I had a taste and found out that the caramel was actually NOT burnt, so hooray! But now I have this caramel and I don’t have any SMB. So round two. And it looked like puke again. Then I remembered one of the blogposts about SMB said that if it looks lumpy (pukey), take about 1/4 cup of the… er… lumps and microwave it for about 20 seconds. Then stream it back into the mixture and whip, whip, whip.
And then the SMB gods decided to grace me with some lovely, fluffy buttercream.
I was going to drizzle some leftover caramel and sprinkle some fleur de sel on top but when I got outside to take a picture, it was hella windy outside so I wasn’t able to go back inside and get the ingredients because my cupcakes would have blown away. But once I got inside I drizzled me some caramel and had some fleur de sel. Yum.
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tsp vinegar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 175g sugar
- 225g heavy cream (35%)
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 3 egg whites (if you have the egg whites in a carton, 2 egg whites = ¼ cup, so use 3/8 cup)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 175g salted butter, room temperature and cubed
- ½ tsp sea salt (only if you use unsalted butter for the SMB)
- fleur de sel for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a bowl, mix the vinegar and milk together and let stand for 3-5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs until pale and frothy.
- Add sugar and whisk again until incorporated.
- Mix in the vegetable oil and set aside.
- In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Gradually alternate incorporating the milk mixture and the flour mixture until everything is incorporated.
- Divide into lined muffin cups, filling about ¾ full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. The edges will be lightly golden =)
- Let stand in the pan for about 2-3 minutes and then remove and let cool on a wire rack.
- To make the buttercream: Make the caramel by melting 175g of sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot until a dark amber colour. Add the heavy cream and sea salt and mix until incorporated. Set aside to let cool.
- Whisk the egg whites and ⅓ cup sugar until stiff peak.
- Switch to the paddle attachement, and add the butter, chunk by chunk, until it’s incorporated. It’ll be a bit lumpy, but that’s okay.
- Stream in half the cooled caramel into the mixture and beat until you get a nice, light buttercream.
- Pipe over the baked cupcakes, drizzle the caramel on top and sprinkle some of fleur de sel on top.