I know, I know, I know...these are not pumpkin..."how dare I!" but they are fall worthy in my opinion.
I find that the flavors of salted caramel and chocolate just scream fall. I might be the only one to agree but so be it lol
There are soooo many awesome recipes with pumpkin on the net today, I thought I would be different (and maybe slightly lazy, since i didn't want to go out of my way to make something pumpkin) Ya'll know i'm not the best at posting OR keeping up with the seasons or holidays. I tend to post whatever catches my fancy on any particular day. Today Toffee won! and OH DID IT WIN!!!
My Hubby proclaimed these as his favorite cupcake! (but then again he's never complained about my cupcakes lol)
BTW: these cupcakes were photographed at night with none of the much coveted equipment (sigh* one day!) so they are a little grainy...my apologies!
But on the the scrumptious details...
I was overjoyed to find that our Fresh Market carried a very important ingredient to these cupcakes. Espresso powder. This lovely little gem of a powder, makes these already chocolaty cupcakes into a I'm-gonna-die-and-go-to-chocolate-heaven chocolaty goodness (did I put enough emphasis on the chocolaty part???). I highly recommend using espresso powder instead of instant coffee granules, the instant coffee has a far more bitter aftertaste than the espressos smooth and bold coffee flavor.
If you can't find it in a store near you you can buy it online, just simply click here or here for the links ;-)
A must for baking with chocolate, espresso powder enhances chocolate’s flavor without adding its own coffee flavor. Specially selected coffee beans are ground, brewed, dried and ground into a powder that quickly dissolves for easy mixing.
Anyways these cupcakes have a bold yet not too bold chocolate flavor. The batter is speckled with toffee bits (yummo right?) then I made a ganache and piped it onto the cupcake in the shape of a circle leaving a whole in the middle. Then it was delicately dipped into chocolate covered toffee pieces. (I only found the chocolate covered ones, but i do agree that the regular toffee pieces would make the cupcake look better BUT the chocolate covered ones add flavor so you choose ;-)
Toffee Crunch Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. espresso powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- 1 cup toffee bits
For the ganache and toffee layer:
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½-2 cups toffee bits
For the frosting:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ tsp. coarse salt
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup caramel sauce
- To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the coffee, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Fold in the toffee bits with a spatula.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Add the cream to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms. Whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated. Transfer the bowl to the fridge or freezer to chill the ganache to a pipe-able consistency, whisking every 5-10 minutes to ensure even cooling. When slightly thickened, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with your tip of choice. Pipe a ring of ganache around the top of each cupcake, leaving a hole in the center. Add the toffee bits to a bowl and dip the ganache portion of each cupcake into the toffee bits, pressing very gently to adhere. Let the ganache set.
- To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and the 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. (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
- 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 (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!) Blend in the salt, vanilla, and caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting and pipe a frilly pile of frosting on top of each cupcake, filling the hole in the center of the ganache. Top with additional toffee pieces, if desired.