My youngest daughter and I were discussing nutrition earlier this week. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation:
Me: “I love super-healthy main courses. My idea of the perfect meal is a healthy main course, and a decadent dessert.”
Her: “I love super-healthy desserts. My idea of the perfect meal is a healthy dessert for the main course, and a decadent dessert for dessert.”
We both agree that this dessert falls under the category of decadent. The vanilla cupcakes are great on their own, but I couldn’t resist adding a dulce de leche filling that made them everything I ever dreamed a cupcake could be. I was glad she took most of them to her friend’s cottage this weekend, or I might have been tempted to overindulge in these decadent treats.
I think we’d both find room for it in our perfect meal.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting and Dulce de Leche filling
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
16 Tbsp (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
For the Dulce de Leche Filling:
1 can (400 g) sweetened condensed milk
pinch kosher salt or sea salt
For the vanilla buttercream icing:
16 Tbsp (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
1. For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a mixing cup. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, altering with the buttermilk, in three additions, ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds more.
Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 20 – 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
2. For the dulce de leche filling:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour condensed milk into a glass pie plate or pyrex baking dish. Stir in salt.
Set the baking dish inside a roasting pan and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate. Cover the pie plate snugly with foil, tucking it in around the sides at the top. Bake between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 hours. (While baking, check occasionally and add more water to the roasting pan if necessary.)
Once the dulce de leche has browned, remove from the oven and let cool. Whisk until smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
3. For the vanilla buttercream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce mixer to low and add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until totally combined. Add the vanilla bean paste and a pinch of salt, beating to combine. Beat for 1 minute.
Using a small paring knife, cut a circle into the middle of each cupcake and remove a cone-shaped portion of cake. Don’t cut right down to the bottom or to the edges or the filling will ooze out. Spoon the dulce de leche filling into the hole until level with the top. Once all the cupcakes have been filled, frost them with the vanilla buttercream.