Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Bourbon Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

So, you've made the Bourbon Caramel Apple Dip.  Now what?

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Bourbon Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting, of course!

My cupcakes are an adaptation of a box mix (okay, it's a bag, but it's still a mix.  If something ain't broke, don't fix it!)  Namaste Spice Cake is so good my wheat-eating family has never known the difference.  I've served this at countless birthday parties and holidays.

(NOT MY PICTURE) This is how we decorated them two years ago

The adaptation of spice cake to pumpkin spice involves taking out the oil in the directions and subbing a cup of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling - that's a different beast - just regular old canned pumpkin or pureed pumpkin from the freezer if you're Martha).  Scoop.  Bake.  Cool.

Okay - frosting.

1 1/2 cups of cream cheese (I love the whole foods brand with no rbgh.  It's cheap, to boot)
1/2 cup of butter, softened
4 cups of powdered sugar
3 TBSP bourbon caramel apple dip

A kitchen aid will make your life easier.  Just sayin'.  Helps if it's a color that makes you smile.  My dream KitchenAid would be this one.  Alas, mine is a funky lavender periwinkle that I suspect was a mistake color.  But, it does the job.

So, with the paddle attachment cream the cream cheese and butter together.  It helps if you cut it into cubes or pats beforehand, especially if it's not softened.

Add 4 cups of powdered sugar.  Y'all know to turn it off first, right?  And go slow.  "Stir" is the setting.  If you have a splash guard, now is the time to get it out.  Don't wear clothes you're going to wear to a party that night.  Unless you're dressing as a ghost.

Okay, add a bit at a time until it's incorporated.  Now, magic - add 3TBSP of the bourbon caramel from last night.  If you don't have it you can make a tiny bit on the side.

Try these proportions:
2 Brown Sugars + 2 Whipping Cream + 2 Bourbon + 1 Butter

In other words, if you want a small amount you might do 2 TBSP Brown sugar, 2 TBSP whipping cream, 2 TBSP bourbon, 1TBSP butter.  Add the bourbon after you've cooked the sugar to melted and smooth, boil for at least a minute, then remove from heat!  Don't light your face on fire.  That might ruin the party.

Now, frost.  I prefer piping, myself, but there's something fun about a smooth frosted top so do what knocks your socks off.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bourbon Caramel Apple Dip

You know what they say... if you want something done right, ya gotta do it yourself!

Tired of all the high fructose corn syrup and artificially colored caramel dips at the grocery store that are flavorless and far too sweet?

I was.  

Until tonight.

Tonight I... okay, we (I had a little help stirring) made the.  most.  luscious.  caramel.  dip.  ever.  

Prepare yourselves.  It's TOTALLY worth it.

(I made a total of 19 jars in various sizes.  I'm guessing you'll want a regular amount?  This will make about six small jars)

You want a seriously heavy-bottomed stainless steel stock pot for this.  Make sure it has plenty of room to expand and BE CAREFUL.  Melted sugar will burn the heck out of you (I have evidence on my pointer finger as I type - it spurted on me and I have a nice blister by my second knuckle).  This isn't one for the kids to do on the stove, okay? 

2 sticks of unsalted butter (yes, butter.  Can you use subs on this one?  I'm not going to find out.)
2 1/4 cups of brown sugar
2 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups of light Karo syrup
2 cups heavy whipping cream (you're dipping it in apples.  It's kinda healthy.)
1 tsp good quality vanilla
2 TBSP quality bourbon (rec. Knob Creek, Makers Mark)

Cut the butter into pats and add them to the stock pot, keeping the heat around medium.  Add the sugars and karo syrup while stirring.  Do not.  I repeat.  DO NOT stop stirring or walk away from this stage.  Sugar will burn and it will burn fast.  Stir all the way down to the bottom and across the middle over and over again.  You have to burn off the calories before you eat them, right?

As it heats, the sugar will begin to melt.  You'll see it get smoother and more runny.  This process took me about fifteen minutes of stirring, so be patient.  Eventually it gets a little foamy and starts to expand.  Add the vanilla and bourbon at this point.  (Mine doubled in size in the pot.  And, again, I cannot stress the importance of a good, heavy, deep pot for this).

Boil for about five minutes minutes, stirring constantly.  My candy thermometer hit about 225°.  I took it off the heat and continued stirring until the five minutes was up.  If you don't have a candy thermometer, just set a timer and don't let it get to a hard boil.  Keep it at a medium simmer.  You can always turn it down.  This isn't cooking sugar - we don't want Werther's candies when we're done.  Just a nice dippy consistency.  

After your five minutes of simmering/boiling is up, take it off the heat and add your cream.  Stir until it's incorporated.  

Keep your fingers out of it.  It's still too hot to eat!

As it cools, it thickens up and very quickly my kids began to gather bowls of ice cream.  Within about ten minutes it was thick enough to pour over the top.  

Store in the fridge, folks.  This one is definitely perishable!  

And enjoy :)