Saturday, January 21, 2012

Salted Caramel Pretzel Cupcakes

This week's props have got to go to the fine folks at Burgatory Bar who inspired my most recent cupcakeventure.

PID and I celebrated yet another anniversary this past week and (being the super-amazing doll that he is) he surprised me with Penguins tickets to celebrate!  We strategically planned to head to the arena early so we could check out the Burgatory satellite shop on the upper level. And it turned out to be a pretty darn good idea.  We each had the Morty's Steakhouse burger and shared a Caramel Pretzel shake.  I loved the burger, PID thought it tasted reminiscent to meatloaf, but we both instantly became obsessed with that shake. 

There were tiny chunks of real pretzel to give it a surprising (in a good way) texture.  I immediately knew I wanted to be a copy cat and put this delicious combination of salty and sweet to the test in a cupcake. And so I did.

I was a little nervous to give them a shot -- I had high expectations after that amazing shake and I didn't want to come out disappointed.  But I have to tell you, PID and I both agreed that these are some of the best cupcakes I've made. Ever.  And now it's your turn.

Here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:

1.5 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1.5 tbs. potato starch
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, room temperature -- 2 whole eggs, 1 yolk
1/3 c. plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt or sour cream)
1.5 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp caramel flavoring -- or -- 1/8 c. caramel sauce
1 c. crushed, salted pretzels (reserve about 1/8 cup for garnish)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by sifting together all of your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and potato starch) into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar, then add your eggs one at a time. Add your vanilla and continue to cream on low.

Gradually begin to add your dry mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating spoonfuls of yogurt and your caramel flavoring until they've all been integrated.

Stop mixing and add your crushed pretzels, gently folding until evenly dispersed in your batter.

Fill 12 baking cups 3/4 of the way full (or I use an ice-cream scooper as measurement) and bake on the middle rack for 18-20 minutes.

Test with a toothpick, which should come out clean when they are done.

Here's what you''ll need for the buttercream:

1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
3 c. sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. caramel flavoring -- or -- 1 tsp. caramel sauce

And for the decor:
Caramel sauce
Sea salt
Reserved crushed pretzels
12 mini pretzels

Start by creaming your shortening on medium-high speed and gradually add in your confectioners sugar, 1/2 c. at a time (you'll want to use the lid on your electric mixer if you've got one!).

After adding about 1.5 c. of sugar, pour in half of your whipping cream, salt, vanilla and caramel flavoring.

Continue adding the rest of your confectioners sugar, followed by the rest of your whipping cream, salt, vanilla and caramel flavoring.

Whip on high for 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl intermittently.

Frost your cupcakes (I use a piping bag, but you can fill a gallon ziplock bag and cut the bottom corner OR frost traditionally with a butter knife).

Drizzle caramel sauce on top of your frosted cupcakes, then sprinkle sea-salt and remaining crushed pretzels on top, finishing off with a whole mini-pretzel!

So if you find yourself in need of a salty-sweet fix like I did, set aside 50 minutes of your day and whip up a batch of these delicious Salted Caramel Pretzel Cupcakes. I promise you'll be glad you did!

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