I made the vanilla bean cupcakes with salted caramel frosting from the recipe section,( http://www.chow.com/recipes/12100 ) for my book club last night. The cupcakes are some of the best I have ever had, but I was disappointed with the frosting. As one poster suggested, I doubled the amount of caramel in the recipe, but although the texture was beautiful, the frosting was basically sweet, with no discernible caramel flavor.
I would love to make these cupcakes again for an upcoming birthday party, but not with this frosting. Does anyone have a great caramel frosting?
I would use dulce de leche - completely submerge an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a large pot of water. simmer it for 3 hours, replacing water if necessary to keep it submerged. remove from water, let cool COMPLETELY. Pop open the can and use it was frosting, filling, or just eat it off a spoon!
This one has a strong caramel flavor:
2-1/2 c brown sugar (I use dark)
16 Tbsp (yes, two sticks) butter (I use salted)
2/3 c cream
Put sugar, 10 Tbsp of butter, and cream in a saucepan; bring to boil and cook till it registers 240 on a candy thermometer. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until it's room temp, 10 - 15 min. Beat in the remaining 6 Tbsp of butter, 1 Tbsp at a time.
At this point, move fast! You need to frost the cake or cupcakes while the frosting is warm--it becomes increasingly recalcitrant as it cools, as in, it becomes unspreadable and doesn't adhere well to the cake. You can, though, take a measure of frosting and use your fingers to "pat" it onto the cake or cupcakes. In the end, the texture is more like a very soft caramel than like a frosting.