I think I'm on a chocolate cupcake kick, which is weird because I prefer vanilla so much more. I guess there's only so much you can do with vanilla though. Yesterday when I woke up, I realized I had nothing to do for the whole day, which has been rare these past few weekends. I was really craving vanilla cupcakes, but those are relatively easy and I make them all the time. Being as I had so much time, I figured it was time to tackle the Sweet & Salty cake recipe from the Baked cookbook once more. See, I had made it (in cake form) for Thanksgiving this year, and it was a total disaster. Going into it, I knew it was going to be a tricky recipe (for some reason the Baked recipes are the most complex, high level of difficulty), but I was over confident and even bragged that it would be no sweat for me. Everything that could have gone wrong did - I burnt the caramel, the butter wouldn't incorporate into the ganache, etc.
I had learned valuable lessons from that experience and regained some humility. This was the perfect project though for a free Saturday. Making caramel has to be one of my least favorite activities ever. It's like watching water boil, but more dangerous. There's about a 3 second window when the caramel is done and you need to take it off the stove before it burns. I usually miss that window and either end up with charred sugar. Additionally, when you take the sugar off the stove and add the cream, it's very easy to get burned because when the two combine, the mixture boils up and spits. This time it turned out a lot better where I managed to 1. not get 1st degree burns and 2. cook the sugar for the correct amount of time. Success!
The Sweet & Salty cake is a chocolate cake with salted caramel, chocolate caramel ganache and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. I like this combination of sweet and salt - it's very reminiscent of chocolate-covered pretzels, which I love. The chocolate cupcakes came out great. I didn't follow the Baked recipe 100% (I simplified it a bit). After these were done and cooled, I filled them with the salted caramel and topped them with the ganache and fleur de sel. These may be one of my new favorite cupcakes. I'd love to go to the Baked bakery in Brooklyn to see what their cake tastes like. For now though, I think I'll definitely be making these cupcakes again.