Chocolate Cupcakes with Toffee and Caramel Swiss buttercream

(recipe adopted from Annie’s Eats)

Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brewed coffee with a shot of esspresso

For the ganache and toffee layer:

  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½-2 cups toffee bits ( I get the English toffee from TJs and pound it into bits)

For the frosting:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • to taste (~4 tbsp) caramel sauce (I bought the fleur de sel caramel from TJs)

Directions

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt).
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients into the sugar-butter-egg mixture alternating with the coffee, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners (~1/3 cup).
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ganache:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Add the cream to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  3. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth.
  4. Whisk in the butter, half at a time, until completely incorporated.
  5. Transfer the bowl to the fridge or freezer to chill the ganache to a spreadable consistency (kind of like nutella), whisking every 5-10 minutes to ensure even cooling.
  6. When slightly thickened, spread ganache on the top of each cupcake.
  7. Add the toffee bits to a bowl and dip the ganache portion of each cupcake into the toffee bits, pressing very gently to adhere.
  8. Let the ganache set.

Frosting:

  1. Combine the egg whites and the sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
  3. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.
  4. *If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, ~3-5+ minutes*
  5. Blend in the salt, vanilla, and caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Fill a pastry bag and pipe frosting on top of each cupcake. ( I like to use a star tip)
  7. (optional) Top with additional toffee pieces.
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