Little known fact - popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. When I was in high school, my mom taught me how to make homemade popcorn from fresh kernels as opposed the stuff you put in the microwave. Ever since then, I have been obsessed.
And once you have a solid popcorn base, there are so many options. Butter, salt, parmesan cheese, chocolate, herbs - the list goes on and on. But because I am addicted to sugar - caramel corn is always my number one choice.
So I went ahead and put it on top of a cupcake. The chocolate/caramel combination with the added crunch of the popcorn makes these guys unstoppable. You won't be able to have just one.
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Chocolate Caramel Corn Cupcakes
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup coffee
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lb (2 cups) room temperature butter
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- candy thermometer
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Caramel Corn Topping
for the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place cupcake liners into cupcake pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- On low speed add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
- Once everything is combined beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
- Pour batter into cupcake liners 2/3 full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean..
- Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool completely.
for the caramel :
- Place sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Dissolve any crystals forming on the side with a wet pastry brush.
- Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high.
- At this point do not stir the mixture directly. Now and then, using the saucepan handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute or so.
- After 3-4 minutes the mixture will turn from a light amber to medium amber and then finally to a dark reddish brown color. Once the mixture starts to smoke, add the butter and heavy cream. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine.
- Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
for the buttercream:
- In a small sauce pan put 3/4 cup of sugar and cover the sugar with a little bit of water until the sugar looks like wet sand. Cook on a stove top over high heat until it reaches 248 degrees (you will need a candy thermometer).
- While the sugar is cooking, whip eggs whites in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at a high speed until they reach soft peaks.
- Once the egg whites reach soft peaks add the other 1/4 cup of sugar and mix on a high speed until the egg whites reach stiff peaks. You can keep mixing the egg whites at a high speed until the sugar is done cooking.
- Once the sugar reaches 248 degrees, immediately add it to the egg white mixture. Mix on a high speed for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add the room temperature butter and mix on a high speed for 5-10 minutes until the butter is fully combined and the mixture resembles buttercream.
- Add vanilla and room temperature caramel sauce. Mix until just combined.
for the topping:
- Pipe a generous amount of buttercream on top of the cupcake.
- Top the buttercream with a good amount of caramel corn.
- Drizzle melted chocolate over the top.
*Makes 24 cupcakes