Chasing Delicious | Rum Caramel Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes
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Rum Caramel Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes

Curious noses, eager eyes, rummaging hands and hungry stomachs lead a march of men through my kitchen. First to the near-empty cookie jar, they congregate, their eyes become concerned. With a shuffle they move to the glass domed cake stand. It sits empty; hungry stomachs become worried. “Don’t worry, y’all,” I assure my five hungry friends, “I’ve got some cupcakes in the oven now.” Eyes perk again and smirks pierce faces.

The five guys leave, their hunger insatiated, and head to their recording studio, a mere – thankfully soundproof – fifteen feet from my kitchen. My own eager appetite stares at a counting down timer. With forty seconds left I give up, swipe open the door, slide a toothpick in to test doneness, decide the dozen straggling crumbs are ok, and whisk the hot cupcake pan to my butcher block island. Testing the pain threshold of my “chef’s hands” I flip each cupcake to allow air to cool around the bottom. I get to nine before I start swearing and dancing in pain as I quickly but gently flip the last three.

As the cupcakes cool I prepare a fortified rum caramel sauce. My eyes widen and dance with excitement as I watch the boiling sugar mature into a beautiful golden amber. Caramel – like a soufflé – is incredibly easy despite rumors otherwise and yet every time I make it I am amazed that it comes out. As soon as it reaches the color I want I slide it off the heat and pour in the cream. A spectacular show of exploding sugar and cream dance inside the pot. I stir and stir, then add the butter and rum and stir and stir. I taste it, again testing the limits of my “chef’s hands” and despite the small burn to my finger and tongue I go back for taste after taste, sliding my finger along the back of the coated spoon until it is spotless.

The frosting is easy. All the ingredients in the mixer, slide the speed to 6 and let frosting suddenly appear.  By now my cupcakes are cool. I messily prepare one cupcake, first trying each aspect on its own, then all together. I like it. Now to the judges. I take a deconstructed cupcake into the studio. I set it down and leave five forks for them. Before I can exit, the sample cupcake is devoured and I get five approvals. “Do we each get our own yet?” one of them shouts. “Soon,” I retort. They know to expect another hour as I shoot the cupcakes.

I spend nearly an hour trying different piping tips and looks for the top of the cupcakes alone. I try four, none of which I like. I slide the icing back in to the bag and start over. Finally, I am satisfied with the results of a very large star tip held stationary above the cupcake letting the weight and pressure of the frosting do the work as it creases and folds on top of the cupcake. A little drizzle of caramel and  a scattering of cinnamon candied pecan crumbs and they’re done.

I then begin to collect the props I want to use in the pictures.  By now the sun is well on its way to setting so I collect my studio lights, bounce boards and everything else I need to attempt daylight. I shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot.

Suddenly it is midnight. I have again lost hours to another recipe. I finally carry a meticulously prepared plater of cupcakes, one for each of the band members, to the studio. To my surprise it is empty; the lights turned off. I smile anyways. The band wont meet for another three days so I know I wont have to share with five, way too hungry, guys.

Did I take my time on purpose? Perhaps.


I slide the plate of cupcakes down in the kitchen before I put my camera and equipment up. I head back to the kitchen and to my surprise I see five hungry mouths devouring my beautiful, once bountiful pile of cupcakes. I don’t bother to ask where they were hiding, or how I managed this foodie oversight. I let them enjoy the sweet bite-sized cakes. That’s the point, right?

In this recipe you’ll want to prepare the chocolate cinnamon cupcake batter first. While the cupcakes bake, prepare the fortified rum caramel and the cinnamon buttercream frosting. Let the cupcakes and caramel cool completely before assembling. And yes, these cupcakes are sweet and messy. If you can’t find cinnamon candied pecans at the store to top the cupcakes, you can adapt my recipe for cinnamon candied cashews here – just substitute cashews with pecans.

 

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes

This recipe will yield 12 cupcakes. As always, you can substitute using both cake and bread flour with using 5 ounces all purpose flour. Be sure to sift the cocoa powder as it has a tendency to clump.

Ingredients

2 ounces bread flour
3 ounces cake flour
2 ounces good unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 ounces granulated sugar
5 ounces unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup freshly brewed strong coffee

Instructions

1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

2. Mix together the flours, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix until well blended.

4. Mix in half of the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture. Mix until blended. Add all of the coffee and buttermilk and mix until well blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until the batter comes together and is smooth.

5. Pour the batter evenly into the muffin pan cups. The batter should stop short of the top of the cup.

6. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barely clean. Mine went for 17 minutes.

7. Flip the cupcakes on their side in the pan to let air cool around all sides and let cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool you can prepare the fortified rum caramel and the cinnamon buttercream frosting. Both are simple but the caramel will require significant cooling time  – you can put it in the fridge to speed up the process.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

8 ounces butter, at room temp.
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

1. Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until the frosting comes together and is smooth. Be careful not to mix too fast to avoid whipping or incorporating any air into the frosting.

This rum caramel sauce is delicious and can be used for numerous other treats. When making caramel be sure to stare at the pot while it boils. It may seem tedious or boring but I promise you it is necessary. Here is why. Boiling caramel goes something like this: clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, tan, perfectly amber, BOOM! Burnt. Yes it happens that quick, so watch the pot and as soon as it becomes amber, remove from the heat and add the cream immediately to cool the caramel down. Be sure to stand back as it can splash and bubble up.

Fortified Rum Caramel

This recipe will yield a couple cups and more than you need for the cupcake recipe. You wont be sorry you made extra in the end though, I promise you.

Ingredients

8 ounces granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 ounce unsalted butter
2 tablespoons rum

Instructions

1. Put the sugar, water and  lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pot – I used a 3 quart pot. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat to medium (so long as the boil is maintained) and add the corn syrup. Boil until the color changes to an amber. As soon as the color reaches amber remove the pot from the heat.

3. Off of the heat add the heavy cream right away, stirring constantly as you add the cream. Be careful and stand back as you stir, it could splash and boil up. If the caramel is chunky place the pot over the heat and boil until the sauce smooths out.

4. Off the heat after the cream has been incorporated, add the unsalted butter and rum and mix in until the butter is completely melted and rum dispersed throughout the caramel.

5. Let the sauce cool completely before using.

Assembly is as easy as piping or spreading the frosting on the cooled cupcakes, then drizzling the cool caramel on top. Sprinkle some chopped cinnamon candied pecans on top of the caramel and you’re set. Enjoy!


Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Founder of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, Russell's works have been featured in Southern Living, Men's Fitness, Redbook, TRADHome, and Real Simple magazines and on various sites including Lifehacker, Fast Co., Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, Quipsologies, Explore, and Fine Cooking. Follow Russell on Twitter @rvank and Instagram. Get more delicious @chasedelicious.

54 Comments

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  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    I fully appreciate the many, many, many hours it takes to get the photos just right. Today I was setting up mini-studios in the bathroom and dining room and anywhere else where sun was streaming through the windows. I see that with the winter light waning, I’m going to need to learn to take my shots much more quickly or else darkness will fall before I know it. My flash went missing (stolen? lost?) and so I’m limited to natural light for now. That’s okay. I like it a lot. :) Your photos are stunning. Totally worth the time it took to make them. :)

  • easyfoodsmith

    Yum-some cupcakes!! Amazing flavours! Loved your blog…pics …recipes … everything actually :-)

  • Jon @ The Technicolor Kitchen

    I’ve been patiently waiting for these since the sneak peek. They look incredible, as always, another job well done. I love this time of year, because this is when I start putting cinnamon in everything. Can’t wait to try these!

  • Beth Michelle

    I always love reading your posts! And your photos are always so beautiful. These cupcakes looks heavenly! Such great fall flavors and that rum caramel sauce is to die for!

  • Lilly

    These look amazing!! I can see how much time you put into making these wonderful cupcakes. I can have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

  • Kathy

    The cupcakes look so pretty! I love the cinnamon chocolate combination. You can’t go wrong with buttercream icing. Buttercream is my favorite with Cream Cheese Icing a close second. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • Jen at The Three Little Piglets

    Those photos are just gorgeous! And I have those same napkins…

  • Kimberly (unrivaledkitch)

    these photos are brilliant. Such a gorgeous setting for beautiful little treats. well done

  • Mike@The Culinary Lens

    This looks so delicious and as always I envy your way with words and a camera

  • Stephanie

    I can’t believe that a group of hungry guys didn’t find and devour the cupcakes while you were trying to photograph them! They look amazing. I always pick up really hot things in the kitchen and complain the whole time but still don’t switch to oven mitts.

  • Aggie

    oh these are gorgeous! Your words made me feel like I was with you…and now I really want a cupcake :)

    And can so relate to the ‘chef hands’ feeling…I’m always testing my limits!

  • Tina@flourtrader

    Wonderful flavors here and stunning pictures. People that do not blog have no idea of how long it takes to get that perfect shot, not to mention how many takes.
    Bravo to your dedication to creating these lovely gems. Simply delicious.

  • Happy When Not Hungry

    Wow these cupcakes are beautiful! I love the flavors too. Perfect for fall!

  • Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen

    if you showed this to my mum, she would happily exchange me for you… Honest.

  • Kim Bee

    Well I say there were 6 lucky guys that night. You for having 5 great friends to feed and them for having 1 incredibly talented friend to cook treats for them. This is another stunning post. Well written and the pictures are just breathtaking. Another winning post.

  • The Chocolate Priestess

    Very pretty though I would take the wrappers off before drizzling the sauce myself.

  • A Scientist in the Kitchen

    Wow! Stunning pictures here. I bet they’re delicious.

  • Lacy

    Wow, these are gorgeous cupcakes!! Amazing post as usual, I don’t blame any one of your friends for chowing down on these! Wish I could right now :)

  • Cassie l Bake Your Day

    What a recipe! I have to say that I get excited when I see a new post from you in my reader. Love your writing and this post is so fun. I, too, love making caramel and I’m always afraid it won’t turn out but it’s so fun to watch it come together. These are beautiful cupcakes, Russell!

  • Laura @ Family Spice

    This is seriously sinful. Do you deliver???? Gorgeous pictures, too. Bookmarked!

  • Julia

    They are absolutely beautiful cupcakes! Sounds like they don’t taste too bad either ;)

    Your photos are really just so good, too.

  • Elies_Lie

    another chocolate dessert! haha ha!
    Cupcakes looks amazing & frosting are stunning russel!
    I never tought that “a man” can make something like this… now u change my mind :D
    congratz on the top 9 russel! u got my buzz! ;)

  • Elyse @The Cultural Dish

    These look so delicious! Congrats on the top 9 today – well deserved!

  • Carmen

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. It looks fantastic. I can’t wait to try it!!!!!!!

    Carmen
    San Juan, PR

  • Celinar Rodriguez

    Ahh, to have the time and devote it to this, time well, well spent, congratulations, I have a big smile on my face after reading this!!!1

  • The Cooking Teacher

    I only have one hungry to keeping waiting and I cant even control him! You must mean business! These are INSANE. I have so much to do this weekend, why did you share these with me?? I have no choice but to try them…

  • Joy

    That looks just wonderful.

  • Ravienomnoms

    Congrats on the Top 9!!! So well deserved! Your pictures are always so fabulous…and talk about a delicious cupcake! Cinnamon and chocolate plus rum and caramel? Holy shmokes, that is like heaven in a cupcake wrapper

  • Ryan

    Oh my word, are those cupcakes gorgeous! So many amazing flavors in one cupcake– I have to try these! Your photos are beautiful too (as always)! Great post!

  • Amy

    Love the flavor combination and who doesn’t love cupcakes?!

  • Sandra

    This is the second time in as many days that I’ve seen bread flour being using in a cupcake recipe. Yours are so amazing and I must try them. Very good presentation.

  • Foodlvr

    Now that a great way of waking up in the morning! Boy does that sound good.

  • Ali

    Wow, the cupcake looks so good, I could eat it straight out of my screen,delectable!! Love the pics.

  • Diane {Created by Diane}

    These looks so delicious and pretty, what a great flavor combo!

  • Jazz Rules

    I love me some Rum Cake! Nothing like killing 2 birds with one stone!

  • ChefDad

    I really like that last picture…looks great!

  • Angela@mytastyliving

    Gorgeous pictures, the cupcakes sound soo tasty!

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Have to say, I cannot believe you were not in my RSS reader before. What was I thinking? I can assure you that I have remedied that now. These cupcakes are amazing… It’s like you made them just for me! :)

  • Chris Tompkins

    Those look absolutely amazing! The white plates were a good choice for the pics and plating.

  • Madi @ Sit Down And Eat Your Peas

    Rum, chocolate, caramel, AND cinnamon? He-llo my favorite things. Russell. You have got to come to Columbus, OH asap! But seriously, your pics are stunning and I’m so giddy you visit my site! You’re such a beautiful, artistic writer and I love that you can stand my blunt, sarcastic writing style ;)

  • Nava Krishnan

    I don’t fancy desserts but sure am admiring these lovely cupcakes.

  • Sam Henderson

    This looks just amazing. I’ve just stumbled upon your site for the first time. I see I have lots of catching up to do.

  • Annie

    Your blog is gorgeous, your food is gorgeous, and you are very talented! I’ve been instantly hooked. These cupcakes look amazing. Nice work.

  • Natalie@DeconstructingTheHome

    Oh my! I love anything with cinnamon but these may just put me over the top! I can not wait to give these puppies a try. It’s amazing how you can add a little liquor to something sweet and it really transforms the entire recipe. I just might brush a little rum onto my cupcakes before icing too!

  • Jamie | My Baking Addiction

    What an absolutely stunning cupcake! Thanks so much for linking this recipe up in the Holiday Recipe Exchange.

  • JulieD

    Russell, this is such a beautiful recipe! I love the rum caramel! I know what you mean about working on photographs and posts…you do get sucked in! But I love it!

  • Vanessa

    Wow! I love this series. That first shot looks like a film still. Truly captures a moment. Well done.

  • Linda

    This is natural cocoa, right?

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    They look so moreish!! I just got to try them out soon! Btw, would you please specify what brand is this wonderful bronze cake stand pictured? Many many thanks!!

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    As I was just perusing your recipe index, these cupcakes caught my eye. I’m glad they did – talk about perfection!

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