We had a very festive party over the weekend to celebrate our new kitchen. Given the proximity to Cinco de Mayo, the party had a decidedly Latin flair. I made two kinds of mini-empanadas; one with some fresh chorizo Butcher Son had made for me, and a vegetarian option with black beans, avocado, cheese, green onion and salsa. We also had a very fresh ceviche, again courtesy of Butcher Son who had ordered a fresh halibut and filleted it out for me. I also made two batches of spicy almonds, mini corn cakes, and grilled some japaleno chicken sausage. Brilliant Daughter made a double batch of her roasted tomato salsa, as well as a tub of fresh guacamole.
On the drink menu was homemade sangria, right out of my cookbook, as well as Corona beer and margarita jello shots. To top the night off, I did skewers of fresh fruit (seedless watermelon, pineapple, strawberry and grape) and some tasty dulce de leche cupcakes. I used a batter that was featured on JustJENN Recipes, but used a dulce de leche buttercream with a button of dulce de leche on top.
The cupcake batter is made from scratch but is not terribly time consuming and you should have everything on hand. The trick seems to be the addition of brown sugar to the batter, which is not something you would normally see. It adds an extra dimension and makes for a heartier cupcake. In less than 10 minutes I had made a double batch of the batter and was scooping out 60 mini cupcakes, with enough left over for 8 regular-sized cupcakes.
After they cooled sufficiently, I made the dulce de leche buttercream. Dulce de leche has been cropping up more and more the last few years as a flavor component, primarily in ice cream and cakes. It is a milk-based product that has a wonderfully sweet caramel flavor. Due to the number of party menu items, I took the shortcut and used canned dulce de leche.
Nestle makes a good La Lechera Dulce de Leche, which can be found at Safeway or at Latino markets. If you cannot find it, you can take a can of sweetened condensed milk and either bake it in the oven or cook it in the crockpot. Barring that you can make it from scratch.
The buttercream icing was smooth with a dense caramel flavor, perfect for the cupcakes. Using a pastry bag, I piped rosettes on the top of each little cupcake and then Brilliant Daughter used a piping tip to make little buttons of pure dulce de leche on top. They were adorable and good and pretty much gone by the end of the night. Which is good for our guests, but not so good for us because we wanted to gorge on them the next day. Guess I’ll just have to make some more….
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare your pans (12 regular sized or 40+ minis).
In small bowl, mix your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla until combined. Alternate the flour mixture with the milk until you get a smooth batter. Spoon batter into the muffin pans, filling no more than 2/3 full.
Bake for 18-20 minutes (full size) or 10-12 minutes (minis), or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup dulce de leche
Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar on low using an electric mixer. Add cream, salt, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and no lumps appear. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the prepared dulce de leche and beat to incorporate.
Frost cooled cupcakes using a knife or a pastry bag. Decorate with drizzled dulce de leche.