Yesterday was the first “official” day of fall and I think for the first time in history it actually FELT like fall in September. Here in Texas it usually doesn’t cool off for another month, but a cool front came in and it felt amazing! Despite the heat, people here start obsessing over pumpkin and fall flavors as soon as September 1st hits. I honestly don’t recall people being so into pumpkin several years back, so I’m not sure if this is a new trend or I just wasn’t paying attention. Either way I’m being misleading because I don’t have pumpkin cupcakes for you today. Caramel is another one of my fall favorites. Scratch that…caramel is a favorite anytime. But I do feel like it really fits in with the other fall flavors.
If you haven’t tried making your own caramel, you should. Just so you can experience the near heart attack and anxiety that I do. Just kidding. I like to live life on the edge and make it without a candy thermometer. Since caramel is basically melted sugar, there is a small window of time where you have caramel before it turns to burnt smoking sugar that’s setting off your fire alarm. Have I sold you on it yet?
This week I made turtle cupcakes. Rich chocolate cake topped with caramel cream cheese frosting and caramel pecan filling. You drooling now? You should be. For the cake I used my go to chocolate cupcakes. The fun part comes next when you make your own caramel for the frosting and filling.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream, warmed
- 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
I measure everything out and have it ready to make it easier. Place sugar over medium-low heat in a saucepan. When the sugar starts melting, stir sugar slowly. Continue stirring until all the sugar is melted. When the caramel reaches a deep amber color, remove pan from heat. Pour half of the heavy cream into the saucepan down the edge of the pan, stirring constantly. The mixture will probably hiss and spaz at you…keep stirring, it’s fine. Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. Pour into a bowl and let it cool. The hard part is DONE.
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Make cream cheese frosting. Add a few tablespoons of your homemade caramel. I added some sea salt to make it salted caramel.
Caramel Pecan Filling
Add pecan pieces to your caramel and stir. Ta da, that’s it. I used finely chopped pecans because I was working with mini cupcakes, but for bigger cupcakes or a cake you could get away with coarsely cut pecan pieces. Save some caramel to drizzle over the cupcakes.
I piped the frosting with a large round pastry tip just around the edge of the cupcake (you could still see cake in the center after I piped the frosting). In the center/crater that the frosting creates, spoon in the caramel pecan filling and then drizzle with caramel.