Oscars 2012: The Help – Caramel Cupcakes

As I mentioned yesterday, Movie Fuel is off this week. He wanted me to tell you that I incorrectly wrote M&M’s happens on Wednesdays, when in fact in comes out on Thursdays. Either way, he still hasn’t seen the movie. After all, there is homework to be done, basketball back on t.v. and if he had the time to watch a movie, it would definitely be Rise of the Planet of the Apes, not The Help. So, I’m gonna go ahead and do the dirty work this week.

The Help (2011)

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Howard and Octavia Spencer

I have spent many hours coming up with the following summary, so get cozy and take it all in. The movie was just as good as the book. 

Ok! Now that you have a great sense of what the movie is like 😉 let’s talk about the numminoes. This movie is FULL of fun foods and drinks! Tomato aspic, anyone? While I was tempted to post about fried chicken, I lack the Crisco and didn’t want to scare my neighbors away with the inevitable smoke. Instead, I took a crack at a caramel cake. Apparently, this type of cake is as popular to the south as tofu is to the west.

I found a perfected caramel cake recipe at the Modernmom site, but gave a little twist. I thought I’d create some cupcakes, instead of a full 8″ round cake. A cupcake has clear boundaries. I hate always having to be the one to even out a cake by taking bites here and sneaking slices there, but who wants an uneven cake? This recipe creates a cake that is a little more dense than a boxed cake and a little lighter than cornbread. It is going in my permanent recipe folder. Yeah, that’s right, it’s going to have a PERMANENT RECORD.

This recipe will make about 18 cupcakes and I found that my oven needed 26 minutes instead of the 20 called for. The other cupcake bonus is cutting out the tough work of slicing round cakes through the middle to create layers. Another tip to take note of, you can use all-purpose flour, not the cake flour that is noted. I’m sure cake flour will produce a prettier, lighter cake, but I never keep that stuff in the house. It’s like having chocolate chips around, the ingredient just begs to be turned into dessert.

*Follow recipe as written, just use a cupcake pan. Um, duh.

Ingredients:

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, divided (1/4 cup and 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into small pieces), at room temperature

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour three eight-inch cake pans (or use nonstick spray) and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, ¼ cup milk, and the vanilla extract and set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and combine on low speed. Scatter the butter pieces on top of the flour mixture and add the remaining milk. Blend on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the egg white mixture a little at a time and beat on medium speed until just combined. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cakes will appear slightly golden on top, not browned. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make your icing.

*This is the consistency my cupcakes took on. Not too lumpy, not too liquidy.

For the icing, there are a few routes you can take. I chose the easy one. If you do an internet search for caramel cake icing or caramel frosting, you’ll find a plethora of Betty Crocker Mensa members who can teach you to make the type of frosting her grandma made (and it is just the best ever). Ignore those women! You’ll need corn syrup and a candy thermometer, two of the top ingredients in a recipe for disaster cake. If you are brave, have plenty of time and sugar on your hands, go for it. Otherwise, follow my lead.

Icing

4 T. butter (melted)

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup half and half (or whole milk)

Melt half of the sugar with the butter on the medium low. Turn off the heat and add the half and half and remaining sugar. Use immersion blender or something similar to blend into drippy icing.

Drizzle over cupcakes and go to fat town!

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