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Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Filling and Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting

February 21, 2013

I’ve never been a big fan of cupcakes, and I’ve been especially annoyed by their lingering ubiquity these past few years.  Let me tell you, friends, cupcakes have been on their way out for a long time now, and I wish they’d hurry up already.  I just don’t think they’re very interesting.

But this particular cupcake recipe had such a tempting flavor combination that I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.  I had also never made my own dulce de leche at home, so I couldn’t help myself.  I’m just too curious.

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The first time I made the cupcakes, I was content with the actual cupcake and very unhappy with the sticky frosting.  Perhaps my homemade dulce was the culprit, but–despite its great flavor–the frosting was hard to work with and even harder to eat.

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So the second time I made them, I moved the sticky frosting into the center of the cupcake and created a new cream cheese frosting to put on top.  And voilà, just like that, a new cupcake was born.

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As I note in the recipe below, you should be sure to fill your cupcakes slightly less than the unfrosted one you see above.  I filled mine up to the top, and the weight of the cream cheese frosting was enough to induce an oozy dulce de leche hemorrhage, just in time for the photo shoot.  Unsightly?  Most definitely.  Delicious?  You bet.

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The final result was a multi-flavor, multi-texture cupcake that was even better than I expected.

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Homemade Dulce de Leche

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1. Place can in a large pot and cover completely with water.  I covered mine with 3-4 inches of water to be sure it wouldn’t evaporate while I was gone, and it worked just fine.

2. Bring the water to a soft boil and boil the can for four hours, refilling the water as necessary.

3. Remove the can–which will be quite hot for a while–from the water.  If you don’t use the dulce immediately, keep the can in the refrigerator, unopened, until you use it.


Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Filling and Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Bake or Break; yields 20 cupcakes

For the cupcake:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 c. milk

For the filling:

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

4.5 oz. dulce de leche

1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

For the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 oz butter, softened

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder.  Set aside.

3. With an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla; mix until combined, being sure to scrape the bowl well.  Alternately add the combined dries and the milk in three batches, beginning and ending with the dries.  Mix just until combined each time.

4. Spoon the batter into paper-lined cupcake pans (I tried to bake a few without the papers, and the end result was not pretty.)  Each one should be 2/3 full.

5. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch.

6. Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a medium bowl.

7. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until there are no lumps.  Then add the remaining frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.

8.  When the cupcakes are completely cool, use a paring knife to cut out a small cone in the center of each cupcake and spoon just a bit of filling into each cupcake.  It should be slightly underfilled to avoid oozing.  Then pipe the cream cheese frosting on top of the finished cupcake.  I had just enough to frost them “Dairy Queen” style (see pictures for reference.)  If you prefer a higher frosting-to-cupcake ratio, you may want to make more frosting.

9. Enjoy with reckless abandon!

A note:  I used the cream cheese/dulce mix for the cupcake’s center simply because I was trying to use it up; if you want something a little firmer, you could mix the dulce de leche with just a pinch of salt and pipe it into the center as-is.  The cupcake would probably be easier to eat.  Let me know if you try it!

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