March 9 - Rosemary Caramel Cupcakes
Most of the time, my ideas for cupcake flavors come from drinks. Why is this? I don't know, I guess. Drinks are easy to make delicious, and I suppose I think the same would follow for drink-inspired treats. I'm right sometimes.
Anyway, the my hero has a kickass recipe for monkeybread that involves rosemary. It doesn't seem like it should work with a sweet caramel-y dessert bread, but it's super tasty. So why wouldn't it work for cupcakes? The answer is that it would. It really really would. In a way that could only be described as EPIC WIN.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
leaves off 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350. Cream together sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Very finely chop rosemary and add to milk. (Well, that's what I did. I'm not sure when it would be optimal to add the rosemary or to where exactly, but this worked fine) Combine baking powder and flour. Alternately add wet and dry ingredients to batter and beat just until batter is smooth. Fill baking cups 2/3 full and bake for 17 minutes.
I adapted this recipe from the hazelnut cakes I made for Nutella Day, so I knew they would rise beautifully. And I was totally right. The cake was perfectly fluffy and tender, and somehow the rosemary brought out the buttery-ness of the . . . butter.
I wanted to do a caramel frosting to keep with the monkeybread theme of the cupcakes. I searched about on that internet, and found a great-sounding recipe on allrecipes.com, but it seemed a bit complicated. I'd only made buttercreams and cream cheese frostings in the past, so I was a bit nervous, but everything turned out pretty ok.
2 tbsp white sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Place 2 tbsp sugar in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. At the same time, put all other ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let the sugar cook until it melts and becomes dark brown - you know, caramelized. Set it aside, but not for too long, because if it cools it will get hard, and that's no good. Let the other ingredients come to a boil, then stir in caramelized sugar. Return to heat and allow to boil for two minutes, stirring. Take off heat and transfer to a bowl. Beat with handmixer until mixture reaches frosting consistency. This took a super long time for me, but it did eventually happen.
Here is where I would normally have pictures of me making the frosting, but Moos absconded with my camera because the cat was doing this:
Anyway, these cupcakes were awesome. Totally freaking awesome. The rosemary came out in a really lovely way, and the caramel frosting was really creamy and had a great flavor. They're so good I can't even properly describe it. I know the combination seems strange, but the resulting delicious was mind-numbing.