In the post about B's birthday party, I mentioned I made pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel frosting for his cake. You guys, these cupcakes were amazing. Although I bake a lot, I often have trouble with cakes/cupcakes, and I'm almost never super happy with the results, but I would make these again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, etc. if I could. Seriously.
I used this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod, but I made a few changes, so I thought I'd post the adapted version here. First, their recipe says it makes 15 cupcakes, but 24 seemed like a more helpful number for parties (at least for mine), so I multiplied the recipe by one and a half. I also added weights for those of you out there (like me) who weigh your ingredients when baking, and I made a few tweaks to the spices, the order in which she does things, and other bits and pieces. If you have an indulgent cupcake occasion coming up, make these. You won't regret it.
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
Cupcakes and frosting adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod; brown butter instructions adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
18 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups (10.625 oz) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 1/2 cup (11.25 oz) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
For the frosting:
Salted caramel sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce, room temperature
Baker's notes: I suggest making the salted caramel sauce the day before you make the cupcakes, and I have ordered the directions as such below. The sauce must be cooled completely before making the frosting, so if you choose to make it the same day, be sure to allow plenty of time for cooling before you make the frosting. If you make it ahead of time, store it in the fridge and then let it come to room temperature (or thereabouts) before adding it to the frosting. The sauce recipe will make a little more than 2 cups, but the extra will keep for several weeks in the fridge (and when is extra caramel sauce ever a problem?). Feel free to halve the recipe if you want less left over.
Also, while I multiplied the cupcake ingredients by 1.5 from the original recipe, I kept the frosting ingredients the same as in the original, as I prefer a little less frosting on my cupcakes, and I had the perfect amount for 24 cupcakes. (You can see how much I used in the pictures above.) If you like a lot of frosting, you might want to double that part of the recipe as well.
1. First, make the salted caramel sauce. Make sure you have all of the ingredients ready because once you start the process, you have to pay close attention, or it can quickly burn. To begin, heat the sugar over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. When it starts to melt, begin whisking the sugar. It will clump up, but keep whisking until the sugar is melted. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.
2. Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely, as this is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter once piece at a time (it will start to pop and hiss at you). Whisk until the butter is melted.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream (again, more bubbling and hissing). Whisk until the cream is incorporated, and the caramel is smooth. Whisk in the salt.
4. Let the caramel sauce cool in the saucepan for about 10 minutes, then pour into a large mason jar or other glass container and cool to room temperature.
5. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
6. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as it seems to take forever (more than 5 minutes) but then turns dark very quickly. Once it is a deeply fragrant and almost nut-brown in color, remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the butter and all of the browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Let cool.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, and cooled brown butter. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined.
8. Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating the muffin tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
9. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high until it is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, add the powdered sugar, and then mix on low until the sugar is completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer and add the salted caramel sauce. Beat the frosting on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.
10. Frost the cooled cupcakes and drizzle with the extra salted caramel sauce, if desired. Enjoy!