Friday, December 7, 2012
salted caramel filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese buttercream and pretzels.
Hey you all! I got myself a black plexiglass! I've been browsing through photos like this that have this dark mirrored effect that I fell hopelessly in love in and I wanted to replicate such an effect myself too. After some quick research, I found out that plexiglass is used. I got a small sheet from an arts and crafts shop and it is really quite inexpensive. For the backdrop, I used a black piece of cloth, which unfortunately, isn't as dark as I would like. Hence, the darkness of the foreground and background is uneven. Oh well, I'll deal until I find a better cloth.
I feel that an all-black shooting setup is extremely convenient when you have limited props or simply don't feel like doing elaborate arrangements to spruce up the picture. The black serves as a great contrast, showing off your food by allowing it to naturally fall into the spotlight against its singular classy shade.
Although using this setup to elevate food photos sounds really simple (just make the entire background black), there is a trick to using plexiglass to its fullest potential, a trick that I didn't realize until after I've put away my camera. When you position your food, you have to place it such that the camera can capture its full reflection too. I didn't achieve that- my cupcake's reflection is half cut off. What I should have done was to move the cupcake further back or make the frame bigger.
These cupcakes are super fun to eat. Not only is there crunch and saltiness from the pretzels, the pool of caramel in the middle provides a pleasant surprise, especially for those who don't know what went into the cupcakes. It oozes out like golden lava. The caramel moistens the surrounding cake as well. The vanilla cream cheese buttercream isn't too heavy on the cream cheese and hence not too tangy, which suits me well. It leans towards the sweeter side. However, I like this recipe for its consistency. Unlike most cream cheese frostings, this one is able to reach a rather stiff consistency. For a more classic cream cheese frosting, I suggest you try this one. It borders on sweet and tangy, and leans towards either side depending on its temperature.
While trying to create a good looking swirl on top of the cupcakes, I used quite a bit of buttercream and even I had to admit, it was a lot!
Salted Caramel Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Buttercream and Pretzels
I know that this is a ridiculously long name but I like to call things what they are. I still can't get the hang of piping with this round tip. I have to tell ya- my piping was pretty unsightly before I covered up the mess with the pretzels. I want to be able to pipe like this! Perfectly centered circular swirls that manage to fill up the entire surface area. Must. Practice. More.
Chocolate cupcake recipe
Bake the cupcakes and allow them to cool completely. You should get about 24.
Salted caramel recipe
Make the salted caramel sauce a day ahead. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Pretzel crumbs recipe:
8 ounces pretzels, crushed coarsely
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the brown sugar. Off the heat, stir in the pretzel pieces to coat. Turn the mixture out onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Vanilla cream cheese buttercream recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1/2 a vanilla bean's worth of seeds
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
420g icing sugar plus more if needed, sifted
Cream the butter and cream cheese until combined. Add the vanilla bean paste or seeds and extract and mix to incorporate. Stir in the icing sugar until incorporated then beat on high speed until fluffy. Use immediately or chill for half an hour until firm enough to frost or pipe.
Assembly: Use a small sharp knife to carve out a cone of cake in the center of a cupcake. Slice the topmost part of the cone off- you should get a flat circle of cake. Fill the hole with salted caramel sauce just shy of full. Cover the salted caramel with the cake. Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake. Chill the cupcake for 15 minutes if the buttercream is getting soft. If not, lightly press the pretzel crumbs into the sides of the cupcake. Repeat for the rest.