Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chocolate Fleur de Sel Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche

Last Friday was a colleague's last day at work. I wanted to give him a sweet sendoff. So I made cupcakes.

Actually it wasn't completely altruistic of me. It was an opportunity to make something that I would never make for just the three of us at home. Even though cupcakes and chocolate are two of Ella's favorite things.

When I got home on Thursday, Louis was in the kitchen and Ella was playing in the living room. I went into the kitchen and told Louis that I was going to make cupcakes. Ella came running in from the other room, "Cupcakes!! Where?!" That girl seriously has selective hearing. Occasionally, when she isn't paying attention to me or answering me when I ask her something, I say "Do you want some ice cream?" And then I have her attention!

So for the cupcakes, I wanted to do some variation of chocolate and caramel. I've made chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting, and those are amazing. But I was inspired by this picture, so I decided that I was going to do a ganache frosting. I usually find ganache frosting to be too much. It is often too dense and rich for me. Like a giant truffle on top of cake. I decided to whip the ganache to produce a lighter texture. It was so good! It was light and airy and melted instantly, coating your tongue in rich dark chocolate. The final taste sensation came from the fleur de sel crystals which yielded a slight crunch and intensified the chocolate flavor.

I also decided to fill the cupcakes with dulce de leche. I love filled things. Turnovers, ravioli, empanadas. They are little packages. Each one like a gift with a surprise hiding inside. The dulce de leche became sort of melty and seeped into the cake creating a supermoist chocolate caramel cake all topped with whipped ganache and fleur de sel.

Everyone at work lucky enough to get one raved. One guy came up to me and said it was a taste revelation. He said he had to take a moment to be in his own world, hypnotized. Now that's a complement, and one of the things that keeps me in the kitchen. Giving people new experiences, revelations, is so satisfying. It is what I am addicted to.

Devil's Food Cupcakes
adapted from Michael Recchiuti

2 cups all purpose four
2/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup espresso (or 2 tablespoons espresso powder in 1 cup boiling water)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 extra large eggs (I used 2 large eggs)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar together into a medium bowl. Whisk in the salt (the salt grains are usually too large to sift).

Whisk the eggs. Then combine with the milk, oil, vanilla, and espresso. Whisk until well mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The batter is pretty thin, pourable.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about half full. Place the pans in the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 325F.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

makes 24 cupcakes.

Dulce de Leche

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Place the can in a pot large enough to cover the can with about 2 inches of water. Bring the pot to a boil, lower to a simmer. Simmer the pot uncovered for 3 hours. Make sure that the can remains covered in water by 2 inches. You will need to periodically add additional boiling water to the pan. Remove the can from the water and let cool before opening.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
adapted from

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
4 tablespoons butter

Heat the cream until bubbles start to form around the edges. Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit about 30 seconds. Then whisk until smooth. Add the butter in pieces and whisk to combine.

Set aside and whisk occasionally until cool and thickened. Beat mixture with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. The color of the chocolate will change from dark to a more milk chocolate color.

Assembling the cupcakes:

Use a small paring knife to cut a cone shaped hole about the size of a tablespoon in the center of the cupcakes. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.

Fill each cavity with the dulce de leche.

Replace the top of the cone. Covering the hole.

Pipe or spread the frosting over the cupcakes.


  1. those look JUST ABOUT PERFECT!!!


  3. i know what you mean about ganache frosting...that is a great idea to whip it! these look tasty. i wouldn't be surprised if they were better than kara's. :)

  4. now you see I don't usually get very excited about cup cakes...yes they are pretty and all that..but not usually my thing
    BUT these may have just changed that, maybe it's the way you write, the brilliant combination of sweet and salty, your simple photos..oh I don't know. Anyway I am inspired.

  5. They look great! Are they as good as Ella's Birthday cupcakes? Love, Mom

  6. Wow, these look incredible. I love that they were hypnotizing!

  7. I can't remember the last time I made cupcakes, or wanted to, but I really want to make these. There's a Bakery in Brooklyn called Baked (they have a cookbook too) and they have sweet and salty cupcakes that are the best I ever had - but, I haven't tried these yet.

  8. dulce de leche + chocolate = heaven. these look dangerously good!!

  9. Oh my word.... I am drooling. Dulce de leche, cupcakes, and a light ganache frosting? Those are three of my favorite things!!!!!!! These look and sound so good, I'm going to make them for myself as a birthday present this weekend!!!

  10. I made these this weekend and they lived up to (and surpassed) every expectation. My husband literally ate himself into a stomach ache, they were so good. I brought them to my father's birthday dinner party and got so many questions and compliments about them!

    Also, I had extra frosting left for freezing. I'm going to roll it into little balls and dust with cocoa powder and call them truffles for Thanksgiving. :)

    Thanks for the AWESOME recipe!!!!