This Cupcake recipe actually uses a combination of 4 different recipes (assembly instructions at end):
1) Double Caramel Cake
2) Caramel Frosting V
3) Dulce de Leche Filling (optional)
4) Caramel Sticks (optional)
DOUBLE CARAMEL CAKE
1/3 cup plus 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided use
1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup butter or margarine
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy skillet, stirring constantly until deep-brown syrup is formed - a process called caramelization. Remove from heat and slowly stir in boiling water, being careful that steam does not burn your hand. Set syrup aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line jumbo cupcake/muffin pan with 12 liners.
Cream butter in bowl of electric mixer. Add 1 1/4 cups sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is well-incorporated. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the reserved syrup.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and vanilla. Add flour mixture to the batter alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners and bake 20 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove pans from oven and let stand about 5 minutes, then turn cupcakes out to cook onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
CARAMEL FROSTING V
1 pound light brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and cream to a rolling boil. Boil one minute. Add soda, and boil one more minute. Remove from heat. Add butter, but DO NOT STIR YET. Let the mixture cool. Beat well.
It is extremely important to leave the butter alone! I actually cut my butter into smaller pieces so that it would be easier to beat after it chilled. I left it in the refrigerator overnight and was able to beat it straight out of the fridge - I know some others had left comments on the recipe that they had to let it sit out for about half an hour. It does take a serious mixer to blend this at first since it's so sticky, but it's well worth the effort!
CREDIT: Submitted by "Carol" on Allrecipes.com
DULCE DE LECHE FILLING
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Remove label from the can. Place UNOPENED can in a deep pot of water, making sure the water is at least 3-4 inches over the top of the can. Bring water to a boil and boil steadily for 3 hours. DO NOT let the water level get below the can. It is important to keep the water level above the can, or the can could explode. It is a good idea to set a timer as a reminder to check the level and add water every 15 minutes.
After 3 hours, turn off heat and allow water to cool. Remove can and refrigerate until cold before opening can. Store in refrigerator.
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs light corn syrup
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper coated with butter or pan spray.
Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir them together with your fingers, making sure there are no lumps. Brush down the inside of the pan with a little water, using your hand to feel for any stray granules of sugar.
Cover the saucepan and place it over medium heat for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Do not stir from this point on. Keep an eye on the pan - it will be very bubbly. When stray sugar crystals appear on the side of the pan, brush them down with a clean, wet pastry brush.
Insert a candy thermometer. When the temperature reaches 300°, lower the heat to medium. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 325; this will happen quickly. It will be golden brown. At 325°, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 1 minute, or until the bubbles subside.
Let the caramel cool to 300°, 5-8 minutes. It should be thick but still liquid, like molasses. Scoop a spoonful of the caramel and let it fall back into the pot. If it flows in a smooth steady stream, it is ready to use. If it drips, it's still too hot.
Carefully scoop out a spoonful of the caramel and position it about 6 inches above the prepared baking sheet. Pour the caramel off the spoon across the baking sheet into desired shapes. The caramel will harden immediately.
If the caramel becomes too cool to work with before you finish making all of the sticks, reheat it. If it has hardened completely, smash it up and place the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes. The temperature should not exceed 300°.
CREDIT: Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking, p. 54, c. 2003
Make sure that cupcakes are completely cooled. Fill a pastry bag with a medium round tip (I used tip 7 from Wilton) with the Dulce de Leche. Poke the tip into the top of a cupcake and squeeze a small amount of Dulce de Leche into the middle of the cupcake. If you do not have a pastry bag, you can use a paring knife to cut out a small "cone" from the top of the cupcake, spoon a small amount of Dulce de Leche into the hole and plug the opening back up with the "cone" cut from the cake.
Fill a pastry bag with a large star tip (I used tip 1M from Wilton) with the Caramel Frosting. Pipe onto the top of the cupcake in a circular motion, starting from the outside going inward.
Stand up shapes and pieces of the Caramel Stick Recipe.