Friday, February 21, 2014

Egg-Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel



I've been asked many many times for an egg-free vanilla cupcake recipe...and so finally here it is!  I've actually had this recipe for a while but since I was trying to "veganize" all my egg-free recipes for my little guy, I forgot about posting this one.  I did mention it on my vegan vanilla cupcake post, but never bothered to share the recipe until now.  I know, I know.  I'm a dork.  But I think I might be able to redeem myself with these amazing cupcakes.

These egg-free vanilla cupcakes are filled with luscious salted caramel and topped with something that I call a "hybrid" buttercream frosting.  It's kind of a cross between an American buttercream and a European buttercream.  I should probably call it sweetened whipped butter instead because that's pretty much what it tastes like to me.  It was a complete accident how I created this frosting but, hey, sometimes delicious things come from happy little accidents.  And as if that wasn't enough, I finished these cupcakes with dripping salted caramel on top.  Amazing right?


If you'd like to add a little crunch to these cupcakes, you can try sprinkling some toasted coconut on top or if you're not allergic to tree nuts, some sliced almonds or cashews would work as well.  If you want to go with fruit, some sautéed apples or pears will be perfect with these.  And of course, you can never go wrong with chocolate :-)

Egg-free Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel 
Makes 24 cupcakes
Allergy note: contains dairy and wheat ingredients

egg-free vanilla cupcakes:
3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. corn syrup, honey or agave nectar
2 Tbs. vinegar or lemon juice
4 Tbs. orange juice
1 1/2 cups milk (lukewarm)
zest of one lemon (optional)

salted caramel filling and topping:
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs. water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbs. butter
1/8 tsp. sea salt

hybrid buttercream frosting:
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup cold whipping cream

For the egg-free vanilla cupcakes: 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare two muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Slowly add in vanilla extract and corn syrup. In a small mixing bowl, combine orange juice, vinegar and milk. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and wet ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture until well incorporated. Pour into prepared muffin pans (about 2/3 full).

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out dry. Let cool completely before decorating.

For the salted caramel: 

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the sugar starts to caramelize and turn golden brown. Carefully pour in the whipping cream. The caramel will start to bubble a lot at first but it will eventually calm down into a simmer.  Add in the butter and sea salt; stir until combined. Set aside to cool.

For the hybrid buttercream frosting: 

Beat the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract at low speed until combined. Slowly add the warm milk. It will separate at first, but don't worry - give it a few minutes and it will start coming back together. Increase the speed a little to whip it up a bit. Slowly pour in the cold whipping cream. Whip for a few more minutes and it should start to look smooth. It may curdle or separate again when you pour in the whipping cream, but give it some time and it will smooth out again.

Cupcake assembly:

Scoop out the center of each cupcake.  You can use a melon baller or a corer.  Fill the center with salted caramel.  Using a pastry bag with a star tip, pipe the frosting on top of the cupcake.  Drizzle about a spoonful of salted caramel over the frosting.

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