So, I really wanted to enter Cupcake Hero and this month’s ingredient is marshmallow. I love marshmallow which should be obvious. I sat and thought long and hard about something fun to make and came up with a few ideas but a lot of them just didn’t sit with me (or I had done them like s’mores). And I wanted marshmallow to be an integral part of the cupcake, not just an afterthought incorporated for the sake of entering Cupcake Hero.
I also have an aversion to making cupcakes that won’t get eaten. It seems like such a waste. As luck would have it, my friend was having a birthday dinner this Friday (yes, today) so I mailed her man to ask her what her favorite flavors were and he said caramel. And then I had it–caramel and marshmallows: Cow Tales! And thus we have the cow tale cupcakes.
Surprisingly, caramel cupcake recipes are not as prevalent as one would imagine. I did some research and ended up creating my own from the basics I had learned (which is mostly to just add some caramel syrup). I crafted the filling completely from scratch. So, without further ado, the recipe (and if it seems long, it’s not. I’m just really verbose):
Piglet’s Cow Tale Cupcakes
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water + 1 tsp water + 1/3 cup of water (all added at different times)
1-1/3 cups of cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, softened (1.25 sticks)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 cup of buttermilk
4 oz of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 7oz tub of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow cream
Frosting (modified version of Martha Stewart’s Caramel Buttercream)
1-1/8 cups of sugar + 1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup water
1 cup + 6 tbsp of unsalted butter (2.75 sticks), softened (see note below)
4 extra large egg whites
3/4 tsp of vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. This recipe makes about 15 cupcakes.
Caramel syrup (to be added to cupcakes):
- In a small saucepan, mix the 1 tsp of water with sugar. Mix up and spread evenly over bottom of the pan. Place over medium high heat. Once it starts to cook (you’ll see it start to shift a bit as the bottom layer becomes molten), stir it up.
- Meanwhile boil the 1/4 cup water in another saucepan. Once the sugar has turned to a dark amber color, take it off the heat and add the boiling water. A careful nuance of this is the make sure the water is boiling in time to add it before the sugar burns. The mixture will sputter and foam (that’s okay!) just mix it together until it’s all mixed.
- Pour into heatproof measuring cup. Add about 1/3 cup water to the sauce pan you had the sugar mixture in and put it back on the heat to get all the extra sugar. Stir around for a bit until you get it all and then add to the measuring cup so you have 1/2 cup of syrup total. Stir and set aside for a bit.
- In the mixer with the paddle attachment, put the butter and beat until fluffy.
- Meanwhile mix the cake flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.
- Add the 3/4 cup of sugar and beat until smooth.
- Add the 2 eggs and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.
- Add half the dry ingredient mixture and then add the buttermilk. Mix until smooth.
- Add the other half of the dry ingredient mixture and then add the syrup you made before. Mix until smooth, but don’t over mix.
- Spoon mixture into cupcake papers to about 2/3 full. This is usually around 1/4 cup for me.
- Place in over for 18 minutes or until a cake tester (fork in my case) comes out clean.
- In the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the 4 oz of cream cheese and beat until fluffy.
- Add the marshmallow fluff and beat until smooth.
- Scoop into a pastry bag with the filling injector tip.
- Once cupcakes are somewhat cool, inject them with delicious marshmallow creamy filling.
- Mix water and sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat (I used number 5 out of 10 on my stovetop), stirring until it begins to boil. Once it starts to boil, watch it carefully.
- When it turns a dark amber color, take it off the heat and add the heavy cream to it. This will bubble and foam, but it’s okay! Just mix it until it is smooth and then let it sit to cool off for a bit.
- In the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy. Set aside in another bow–we need the mixer again.
- In the mixer bowl, put the 1/2 cup of sugar and the egg whites. Whisk together.
- Place the mixer bowl over a saucepan with simmering water (kind of a double boiler type thing) for about 3-4 minutes, until everything looks nicely dissolved.
- Return the mixer bowl the mixer. This time with the whisk attachment, begin whisking at medium speed until the egg mixture has cooled off. Once it has cooled off, begin mixing at high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Go back to medium speed and add the butter in, about a 1/4 of the amount at a time, making sure it’s all mixed in before adding the next bit.
- Add the vanilla.
- Switch back to your paddle attachment and add the caramel. Mix for about 5 minutes.
Decorating: I wanted to keep the look of the cow tale candy so I piped the frosting in a big circle and then took a bit more of the filling and put that in the center. (I just left it in the pastry bag after doing the fillings which made this pretty easy.)
The cupcakes ended up quite delicious and the marshmallow/cream cheese filling tasted great with the caramel. Mmmm . . .
A couple of notes which might help:
- Safeway brand cream cheese really is not the same as Philadelphia. It gives a much different consistency to the filling.
- You can add more or less of the marshmallow cream depending on how sweet you want your filling.
- If you want to cut down on dishes, you probably don’t really need to mix the cake flour, baking powder and salt in an separate bowl.
- When making the caramel syrup for the cupcakes or caramel for the frosting, make sure to use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon so you don’t end up with molten plastic in your cupcakes.
- Also, when adding either the water or heavy cream to the molten sugar mixtures, you may want to wear a cooking glove. The steam which rises can be pretty hot. I didn’t have a problem, but if you’re sensitive, you might.
- When making the frosting, you could just add 3 sticks of butter and be fine, but I actually used 2.75 sticks of butter because I didn’t feel like opening another package of butter , so you have a nice round 4 sticks (or 1lb) for the whole recipe. But I believe either (2.75 or 3) would work. I don’t think the difference is enough to make a difference in the frosting.
- You can make both the filling and frosting up to 2 days ahead of time. Just refrigerate after making and bring to room temperature before using.