i was on spring break for the last week. it started with one of my high school friends visiting me in socal (did i pick her up at midnight from the airport even though i had an 8am final the next day? maybe), and then i flew to florida to hang out with my favorite mouse for a few days. follow along on my instagram stories- i'm posting about disney world this weekend and next! and i'll post a recap when i get around to editing all of the pics.
do i deserve one of these caramelized white chocolate cupcakes with strawberry buttercream? not really, given all the gluttony my body went through over break. but maybe you do, so in that case, hi.
these cupcakes originally started out as a cake, but it took forever to caramelize the white chocolate in the oven + i couldn't really taste the white chocolate. boo. so in this version, i caramelized it on the stove, and it shaved off at least 30 minutes of babysitting!! yay.
if you don't want to deal (which i urge you against), you can ignore the caramelized white chocolate and 1) use plain white chocolate chips and/or 2) swirl more caramel into the cake batter.
also, i used a wilton 32 tip to make a rose like topping on the cupcakes, but you can just plop some buttercream on top.
and they're forgiving. they'll still turn out if you soften your butter too much in the microwave and then freeze it in your attempt to re-solidify it. the cake will still rise and be fluffy and delicious if you mix the eggs with the butter too early.
so how do these caramelized white chocolate cupcakes with strawberry buttercream taste? there's a gentle caramel flavor from both the caramelized white chocolate (it tastes nothing like plain white chocolate! highly recommend playing around with it if you haven't yet) and caramel swirled in. the strawberry buttercream is super silky, and the sweet/tart notes balance out the butterscotch-rich cake oh so nicely.
i'm craving one now, even if i need to treat my body like a temple between now and my next adventure (big bear, here i come!).
want more cupcakes? (because same). maybe take a peek at some masala chai carrot cupcakes, or how about these chocolate hi hat cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream?
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup whole milk room temperature
- ¼ cup caramel sauce
- 2 large egg whites
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter room temperature, cut into tablespoons
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons ground freeze dried strawberries
In a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, add the chocolate. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, until the chocolate darkens to a caramelly, toffee-y color. This will take about 15 minutes. You can turn the heat up, but you will have to watch it much more closely. Don’t worry if it seizes up and becomes crumbly; it’s a good thing! Cool completely, then break up any big chunks.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
On low speed, alternately add the flour and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the chocolate.
Fill 12 lined muffin cups. Using a skewer or knife, thoroughly swirl 1 teaspoon caramel into each cupcake.
Bake at 350F for 17 -20 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Frost cooled cupcakes.
In the heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until the meringue holds stiff (but not dry) peaks, and the bowl is room temperature.
Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and strawberries.
You can spread out the white chocolate on a lined baking sheet and caramelize it in the oven at 250F for 45ish minutes, stirring occasionally. It requires less attention than stovetop, but takes longer. Normally you don't want your chocolate to seize when you caramelize it, but in this case, the chunks make it easier to stir into the batter.
To make these easier: don't caramelize the white chocolate, or omit it all together (and maybe swirl more caramel into the cake batter).
If you're not serving these on the day that you bake the cupcakes, store them at room temperature in an airtight container so that they don't dry out.
This strawberry buttercream recipe makes a very modest amount of frosting. Feel free to double it if you like your cupcakes well frosted.