Creme brulee cupcakes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk (I used half and half)
3 tablespoons caramel syrup (I used Hershey ice cream topping)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream
1 cup light brown sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
To make cupcakes—
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk.
Add caramel syrup and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into batter.
Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.[NOTES: I baked for 20 minutes.]
To make meringue buttercream—
Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.
EXTRA-EXTRA! I thought it would be useful to see step-by-step instructions to make swiss meringue buttercream for other SMB newbies like me. Click here and here for how-to videos!
To assemble cupcakes—
Remove center of cupcake using the cone method. Fill cupcake with buttercream. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and caramelize with creme brulee torch.