ddl

One of the most common questions I receive from readers is about the cupcake liners I use and how they look so bright after baking.  I completely get it, I hate dull liners.  Even though at the end of the day I know I’m probably the only one who really cares how the cupcakes look, I prefer they not only taste good, but look nice too :)  The liners I’ve had the most luck with are the greaseproof liners with the stripes (seen here – I usually find them at my local Home Goods, but they’re available online as well), and the Reynolds StayBrite liners I used for this recipe.  I would love to find additional options though, so I’m turning the tables today and asking you guys if you have any go-to sources for cupcake liners.  I am craving some more variety!

ddl

These cupcakes have been on my to-do list forever – with dulce de leche in the cupcakes themselves and in the frosting (not to mention high praise for the recipe from two of my favorite bloggers), I knew they’d be a hit.  I was short on time so I used store-bought dulce de leche in these cupcakes, but if you want to make your own, it’s really not very difficult. There are a lot of options floating around the internet if you do a search; the only one I’ve tried is the crockpot method. Basically you take a can of sweetened condensed milk (with the label removed) and put it in your slow cooker, then fill the slow cooker with water and set it on low overnight.  In the morning your sweetened condensed milk will have transformed into a luscious, rich can of dulce de leche gold!

ddl

Regardless of whether you make your own or buy it, these dulce de leche cupcakes are a must try. The cupcakes themselves are moist and tender, with lots of caramel dulce de leche flavor. I’ve never really understood the draw of Swiss meringue buttercream (it always tastes too buttery and greasy to me) but this dulce de leche version had me singing a different tune. It’s easily among my new favorite frostings – so creamy and rich, sweet from the dulce de leche, but not cloyingly so. It pipes perfectly too, so it’s a winner on all fronts.  And luckily for me, the recipe only used a portion of my can of dulce de leche, so another batch of cupcakes is almost a certainty.

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
from The Way the Cookie Crumbles (who adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride)

Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups (7.2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (9.33 oz) sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dulce de leche
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups (8.75 oz) sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup dulce de leche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Whisk both flours, the baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the dulce de leche, continuing to beat until completely incorporated.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the oil and vanilla.  With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients (in 3 additions) and the buttermilk (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling each well about 2/3 – 3/4 full.  Bake the cupcakes for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, sugar and salt together.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160 F on an instant read thermometer.

Secure the bowl on the mixer and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat the  mixture on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, and the outside of the mixer bowl is cool to the touch, about 7-8 minutes.  With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, waiting until each piece is incorporated before adding the next.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is thick and smooth, 3-4 minutes.  Mix in the dulce de leche and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Frost the cupcakes, then garnish as desired.

Makes 24 cupcakes