I know, I know….another cupcake recipe. I say that like there’s something wrong with that, when there’s nothing bad about these little gems. I guess I just feel like I’ve been posting cupcakes quite a bit lately? That’s because there have been a lot of birthdays, and I always volunteer to make the dessert because I don’t make cupcakes for no reason and I need to get my fix. I’m not the kind of person that will go to a cupcakery and indulge in a cupcake on some random day as much as I love them. There needs to be an occasion, and this past weekend there were two family birthdays — my husband and his brother — so these were absolutely necessary. ;)
Carrot cake has always been one of my favorite cakes, and everyone in the family seems to enjoy it too, thankfully. I’m always on the lookout for the next great recipe, and I found another one on Smitten Kitchen. These cupcakes are so moist and delicious that I had one every day until they were gone, which was 3 days in a row. I changed the recipe up a little bit, mostly by adding coconut (of course I did!), omitting raisins and pecans, and instead of grating the carrots, I processed them into tiny bits in the food processor.
This was so much easier, and by doing this, the carrots are in nice, small bits throughout the cupcakes, which I love hong thai travel. :)
I know I’ve been on a salted caramel tear as of late. That started with my Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream, and it shows no sign of going away any time soon. Since I started making caramel, it’s one of my new favorite things to do. ;)
Of course you can buy salted caramel sauce for these cupcakes, but it’s so easy to make your own. It’s just sugar and water and about 10 minutes of your time at the most. The best part about making your own is, you get to decide how dark you like your caramel. The darker it is, the less sweet. I opted for medium amber color here because I wanted the caramel a bit on the sweeter side since I was salting it. Sweet + salty = balance. :)
When making caramel, just make sure to melt the sugar in water on low heat until it’s clear, or the sugar has melted like the photo in the top left. Once it’s clear, turn the heat to high and don’t stir! When the bubbles get big and lazy, it’s getting close. Once the mixture begins to color around the edges, swirl it around ever so gently. When it’s a nice amber color, it’s ready. Just remember that it goes from light to dark very quickly, and it will continue to cook once it’s off the heat. If it’s too dark, it could burn, so you need to get it off the heat just before it becomes the color you’re after. Comprende? :) Add a pinch of sea salt and stir it up, then let it cool. How much salt you add is completely up to your taste buds hong thai travel.
Now that we’ve finished talking about the cupcake and salted caramel frosting, let’s move on to this luscious vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. It was my first time making a frosting from mascarpone cheese, and it certainly won’t be my last. I also added some low fat cream cheese to the mix for extra tang, and beat it until it was smooth as possible. The mascarpone doesn’t really look smooth, however — it almost looked like over-whipped whipped cream. No worries, though — I beat in the butter, then the confectioner’s sugar, and cranked up the mixer to high for a bit. It still didn’t look smooth, but no matter. I googled some mascarpone frosting recipes and they all pretty much looked the way mine turned out. :)
As for the vanilla bean in the frosting, I opted for vanilla bean paste. I discovered vanilla bean paste last year at Whole Foods and haven’t looked back since hong thai travel.