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Friday, January 17, 2014

Cooking Show #5--Cupcakes!! With Salted Caramel, or Nutella Filling...& Mascarpone Frosting

We filmed cooking show #5 this week.  My featured guest, Emily, is a friend of my daughter's.  Emily is currently enjoying a gap year before enrolling in Harvard this fall.  She's doing all sorts of fun things--taking classes, working on service projects--but I'll bet it'll be hard for her to top the three months she spent in the south of France this fall.
Here's Emily behind the counter of a bakery that she worked at while she was in France.

Before she left on her adventure, I asked her if she would be a guest on my cooking show when she came back.  She enthusiastically said, "YES!"  I've been eagerly awaiting her return, wondering what types of exotic treats we'd prepare when she came back.

The best-selling treats at the bakery?  Cupcakes!  And the best-selling flavor?


Not quite the exotic recipe I was expecting, but I've never filled cupcakes with anything, so it was a bit of a challenge.

Emily also suggested making salted caramel cupcakes.  GET. OUT.  My favorite.  How did she know?

We used my vanilla cupcake recipe.  Emily told me that the recipe at the bakery was a very closely-guarded secret.  She was allowed to make the cupcakes, but the ingredients were already measured and she was never told the exact amounts.

We used Emily's frosting recipes, however.  Can I just state for the record that I, a staunchly loyal fan of buttercream frosting, have evolved into an even bigger fan of mascarpone frosting?

You'll need to put a bit more time and effort into these cupcakes than you would for basic frosted cupcakes. I think you'll agree, however, that the extra time that it takes--to make the salted caramel and to fill the cupcakes--is time well-spent!

Today's Playlist

  • "Everybody Talks"...Neon Trees
  • "We're Going To Be Friends"...The White Stripes
  • "The Girl Got Hot"...Weezer
  • "Story of My Life"...Social Distortion
  • "Death or Glory"...The Clash
  • "Quietdrive"...Time After Time
  • "Apple Blossom"...The White Stripes
  • "Highway to Hell"...AC/DC
  • "Paradise City"...Guns N' Roses

 Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting
filled with Nutella
or Salted Caramel


For the salted caramel:

  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoons sea salt

For the cupcakes:
  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Add-ins: 1 tablespoon of prepared salted caramel
--2 tablespoons of Nutella

Fillings: prepared salted caramel, 1/4 cup Nutella

For the Nutella frosting:
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

For the Salted Caramel frosting:

  • 8 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel

Gather your ingredients.  Missing from this picture: the canola oil.  I always forget something in the group photo.

Start by preparing the caramel sauce.

Mix all of the ingredients (1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup light cream, 4 tablespoons butter, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract) in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly.

The mixture will start to bubble after about 4 or 5 minutes.  When it starts to bubble, continue to whisk for one more minute.  It's important to whisk the caramel for the entire time you are heating it to prevent it from scorching.

Remove from the heat, and continue to whisk until the bubbling stops.  Set it aside so that it can cool

Time to get started on your cupcake batter.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

Place the dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons of flour,

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch,

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.

Whisk to combine, then set aside.

Crack the 4 eggs into the bowl of your mixer.  Beat for 30 seconds.  Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and beat for another 30 seconds.

Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract...

...and 1 cup of oil.  Beat for 30 seconds.

Reduce speed to your mixer's lowest speed.  Add in half of the dry ingredient mixture...

...then half of the buttermilk.  Then add the remaining dry ingredients, and the remaining buttermilk, keeping your mixer on the lowest speed.  Mix until just combined.  Stop your mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix for 10 more seconds so that it is thoroughly mixed.

Divide the batter (approximately) in half.

I find it easiest to try to divide it by pouring half into a mixing bowl that has measurements marked on the side.  I try to pour about 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups into this bowl (bowl #2).  Use this half of the batter for the salted caramel cupcakes.

Return bowl #1 back to your mixer.

Take one tablespoon of the now-cooled salted caramel...

...and add it to the batter that you divided into bowl #2.

Stir with a spatula to combine.

Add 2 tablespoons Nutella to bowl #1.

Beat on a low-medium speed to combine.

Pour the caramel batter into your prepared pans.  I find it easiest to scoop the batter out using a measuring cup.

Fill the cups approximately 2/3 full.  You want to leave about 3/8" to 1/2" for the batter to expand while it cooks.
I've yet to divide the batter perfectly evenly.  Oh, well!  There's always next time.

If you're like me and find that you didn't divide your batter evenly and don't have enough to fill all of the wells in the pan, leave them empty.

It's important that all of the salted caramel cupcakes bake on one pan and the Nutella cupcakes bake on another, because the Nutella cupcakes need to bake for a few minutes longer.

Pour the Nutella batter into the prepared pan.


Bake the cupcakes in your preheated 350 degree oven.  The caramel cupcakes will take 14 to 16 minutes to cook, and the Nutella cupcakes will need an additional 3 to 4 minutes.  The cupcakes are cooked when they spring back when touched lightly, or if you poke them with a toothpick and the toothpick is dry or only has a few moist crumbs on it.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling and frosting them.

For the frostings,  you will need confectioners sugar, mascarpone, Nutella and the prepared caramel sauce.

You'll need two medium-sized bowls.

Place 8 oz. of mascarpone in each bowl.

Add 1 cup of confectioners sugar to each bowl.

Put 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce in one bowl...

...and 1/2 cup of Nutella into the other.

Mix the caramel frosting with a spatula.

You can either mix the Nutella frosting with a spatula or a hand mixer.

To fill the cupcakes, I use a measuring spoon (teaspoon size) to remove a round plug from the top of each cupcake.  Any spoon that has a sharp edge to it will work.  Or you can use a knife.
You just want to scoop out a bit of the top of the cupcake so that you can fill it.  You don't want to scoop out too deeply.

After you've scooped out the tops, fill 'em up!

1 teaspoon Nutella for the Nutella cupcakes.

I transferred the caramel from the saucepan into a creamer (any small cup with a spout will do) and poured the caramel in.

After the cupcakes are filled, place the plugs back and gently press into place. 

How do they fit, since the space has already been filled, you wonder?  The soft airy cupcake simply expands.  If the plugs seem to be elevated and bumpy, don't worry.  The frosting will hide it all!

I filled a pastry bag to pipe the frosting on, but you can frost your cupcakes by any method you like.  Slather it on with a knife, or slap on a spoonful and swirl it around. However you decide to frost them, they will look fine and taste incredible.

See?  The frosting completely covers the top and nobody will see that the cupcake has been under construction.

One more interesting fact I forgot to tell you:  Emily said that afternoons were the busiest time of the day at the bakery (as the French indulge daily in a 2-hour lunch).  The regular customers would come in each day for coffee and two cupcakes.  TWO cupcakes.  Each day.  Even the women.  Slender French women, eating two cupcakes per day.  I'm shaking my head as I type this.

I'll be honest, the salted caramel cupcakes are my favorite.  The caramel filling sort of gets absorbed into the surrounding cupcake and is just divine.

But if you're crazy for Nutella, you may prefer the Nutella-filled cupcake.

Or pretend you're French and eat two.  One of each.



  1. Oh they look incredible! I almost licked the screen, lol. Looks like you had fun too. Loving your cooking shows. :) Pam

  2. Can I please hop in and lick that caramel spoon? lol! I love anything salted caramel! I love butter cream frosting, but this looks fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing with SYC! Lucky Emily to have spent 3 months in France. These cupcakes are oh-la-la!
    p. s. ha, ha, I just read Pam's comment. Looks like her and I will be fighting over that spoon. lol! If I'm lucky, she'll want the chocolate one!

  3. So, so yummy!! You are always cooking/baking such yummies!! Have a wonderful day and week ahead Fran! xo Heather


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