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Dark Chocolate and Caramel Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
From Cooks Illustrated: American Classics magazine
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
¾ cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard muffin pan with liners.
2. Combine the butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof bowl, set over a saucepan of barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted, whisking until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.
3. Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl to combine.
4. Whisk eggs in another medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until fully combined. Sift about 1/3 of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogeneous and thick.
5. Divide batter evenly among liners. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
6. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing.

Note: The magazine says not to double the recipe. I don't remember why, but they specifically made mention NOT to double it. So just don't do it!

Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson
Makes enough to frost roughly 16 cupcakes

2 cups confectioner's sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup caramel ice cream topping
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add caramel, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat until well combined. Add confectioner's sugar, half cup at a time, and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Frost or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Top with a drizzle of caramel.

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