It's that time of year when everywhere you turn there are pumpkin pies, apple desserts, turkey dinners and other fall staples. Williams-Sonoma has added autumn touches to all of their merchandise (this was under the category baking essentials -- explain to me how this is essential?), grocery stores are running 'specials' on canned pumpkin even though we are probably paying double what they charge in April (can you even get canned pumpkin in April? Note to self, make something pumpkiny this spring to find out.), and in my neighborhood, everyone is pumped about a little parade that is held on Thanksgiving where they blow up the balloons just a few blocks south of us.
Now that I have you all harvest-focused, I am going to break the reverie for a moment to present these cupcakes that are so sweet and so chocolaty and so delicious (and so beautiful!) that you won't miss the warm colors or the smell of cinnamon. Instead, think more along the lines of so-much-sugar-you-feel-your-heartbeat-increase and the-fun-doesn't-stop-on-the-outside since each of these has a surprise center that gets you every time. Hello Rolo Cupcakes, where have you been all my life?
I made these a few weeks ago to share with a few of our friends as well as to try to woo Robbie's coworkers into offering him a full-time position instead of the freelancing position he held. He is now a full-benefit employee as of last month and I have established my baking cred amongst our group of friends here in the city. I attribute both of these accomplishments to these cupcakes.
Adapted from My Baking Addiction
For the Cakes
1 18.25 ounce package Devil's Food Cake mix
1 5.9 ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla
24 frozen Rolos (I let mine freeze overnight)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Using the paddle attachment of a mixer, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, water and vanilla until smooth. Evenly divide the batter amongst the tins. Push a frozen Rolo in the center of the batter, being sure to smooth the batter over the candy. Bake for 18-22 minutes until top is springy to the touch. Cool the cupcakes thoroughly on the wire rack.
For the Frosting
4 sticks unsalted butter; room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup caramel syrup
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar
Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the extract, salt and caramel syrup and combine well. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add more caramel syrup if you want more of a caramel taste. I ended up adding another 1/3 of a cup.
For the Ganache
4 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla (I have a confession, I accidently left the vanilla out of the ganache. To my knowledge, no one noticed.)
24 Rolos for garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream until very hot but not boiling. Place the chocolate pieces in a heat safe bowl (I used a Pyrex measuring cup). Place chocolate pieces in a heat safe bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. I used this time to begin frosting the cupcakes. Whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth and thoroghly combined. Whisk in the honey, corn syrup and vanilla (if you can remember the vanilla). Allow to cool for about 15 minutes. I used this time to finish frosting the cupcakes. You do not want it to harden so that you can't spoon it over the frosting so you may want to check back on it. Once cakes are frosted with the caramel buttercream, spoon the glaze over the tops of the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a Rolo and stand back for the stampede.