Caramallow Cupcakes + a Delicious-in-Focus Contest

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Your fingers are destined to be sticky.

You need to come to terms with the fact that there will be frosting on your nose.

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There's an 87.5% chance you will have moist, chocolatey crumbs on your cheeks.

And probably down your shirt.

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A dribble of caramel on your chin? I'm sorry - it's totally unavoidable.

But, hoo boy, will it be worth it.

Dark chocolate cake. Creamy caramel filling. And gooey, billowing marshmallow frosting.

In short, I captured happiness and embodied it in a cupcake.

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I call them "caramallow" cupcakes.

The magic starts with scrumptious cocoa-buttermilk cupcakes - the ones your ears are tired of hearing me wax poetic about.

They're so easy - no creaming butter and sugar, just dry ingredients beaten together with wet ingredients. Practically fail-proof, and so, SO impossibly good.

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The batter is very runny - I find the easiest method to portion it out is to transfer it from the mixing bowl into a large measuring cup with a spout.

Don't fill them more than 2/3 or they will overflow in the oven.

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While the cupcakes are cooling, you make a caramel.

Simply stir a cup of sugar in a saucepan on medium heat and watch the magic happen: the crystals melt into liquid, which bubble and darken until transformed into a deeply flavourful amber syrup.

In go some cream and butter, et voila! Thick, sticky caramel. And there's enough leftover to re-warm for ice cream sundaes another day...

Unless your Irish Setter finds the bowl and eats it all, the consequences of which I do not care to discuss.

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Of course if making caramel frightens you (and it's fair to be intimidated by spattering, molten sugar), you can always use store-bought dulce de leche.

The (literal) icing on the cake is a 7-minute frosting - which is soft meringue whipped in a double boiler into marshmallow-y submission.

It's like eating a cloud. I just want to stick my face in that bowl and motorboat.

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To "fill" the cupcakes, you first pipe frosting around the perimeter (I use an extra large closed star frosting tip). You then flood the centre with a scant teaspoon of caramel, and then finish piping the frosting on top.

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I find this much easier than filling a cupcake by scooping out a well with a paring knife. And just as good!

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In addition to discovering my cupcake happy place, I also discovered the brand new HTC One phone. I was chomping at the bit to try out its reputedly excellent camera, and it did not disappoint. This baby blows my iPhone camera right out of the water.

But I really don't have to tell you - it speaks for itself: all the photos in this post were taken with just the camera on the HTC One.

Scroll back up and see how impressive that is!

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I loved playing with the camera effects - there are several of them that you can use "live" while you're shooting (plus more instagram-esque filters you can apply after the photo is taken). I used my two favourite live effects in this post.

The first is a vintage-y filter that gives photos a warm, hazy, retro feel.

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The second is the macro effect - which lets you achieve the shallow depth of field (read: blurry background) that food photographers covet.

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I was bowled over by the beautiful results - it mimics a 50 mm lens for close shots in a way I never thought a phone could. And it's so easy to get exactly what you want in focus.

You could seriously create a beautiful food blog using just the HTC One camera.

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The best part? I've got one for you, too!

Recipe following contest rules.

Delicious-In-Focus Contest


All you have to do is take a gorgeous photo of something delicious that you've made. And not only will the contest winner become the owner of an HTC One, they will also have a dinner for four, cooked in-home by a professional chef. So you'll have some beautiful food to photograph with your new phone! When you enter your comment at the bottom of this post in step 4, be sure to use your email address you can be reached if you win!

Here’s how to enter:

1. Take a gorgeous photo of something you’ve cooked or baked.
2. Share the photo on social media (twitter, facebook, pinterest or instagram) with #HTCOne hashtag
3. Link back to this contest in your social media post.
4. Leave a comment here with a link to your entry.

Photos will be judged on photographic skill (30%) and food styling and preparation (70%).
Entries will be accepted until April 21, 2013  and the winner will be announced on April 23, 2013.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Internet access required.  Contest starts April 10, 2013 at 12:01 AM ET and ends April 21, 2013 at 11:59 PM ET.  Open to legal residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) 18+ at time of entry.  One (1) prize available to be won consisting of: (i) one (1) HTC mobile device; and (ii) one (1) personal chef to cook for you and three (3) other people.  Total ARV of prize is $2,500 CDN.  To enter, post or tweet a picture of your best food or dessert creation on either Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest AND include: (a) the hashtag #HTCOne; AND (b) link back to the contest post on www.foodess.com; AND (c) in the comments section of the post, put a link to your entry.  Winners determined by judging.  The odds of being selected as eligible to win will depend on a combination of: (i) the total number of eligible entries received during the Contest Period and (ii) the score the photo receives by the Judge based on the Judging Criteria outlined in the full contest rules.  Conditions & restrictions apply.  For details and full contest rules, including judging criteria, visit www.foodess.com/delicious-in-focus-rules.

Brought to you by the new HTC One™. It's everything your phone isn’t.

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  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 24Servings

Ingredients

For Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)

For Caramel Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1/3 cup (6 tbsp) softened butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Marshmallow Frosting

  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature (not pasteurized, they aren't stable enough)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

  2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.

  3. Remove bowl from mixer, and pour batter into a large liquid measuring cup with a spout. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling each no more than two-thirds full (or else batter will rise over and make a big mess - not bigger cupcakes). Bake 20-24 minutes, or until cupcakes feel slightly springy when you gently press their centres. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely.

  4. Place sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk often as the sugar starts to stick to the bottom, clump up, and then eventually melt. Continue only until the syrup comes to a boil, then stop. You can swirl the pan every now and then, but no more whisk.

  5. Watch very closely as the syrup will go from clear to golden brown very quickly. As soon as it turns amber, remove saucepan from the heat. Working quickly and averting your face, whisk in the cream - holding whisk at arm's length as the caramel will bubble up aggressively. Whisk in butter, salt and vanilla. Set aside to cool. The whole process from sugar to caramel takes only about 5 minutes on my stove.

  6. Combine egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set overtop of a saucepan of simmering water. Using an electric mixer, beat on high for about 7 minutes - until it is shiny, voluminous and will hold nice peaks.

  7. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla extract. Cool at least 5 minutes before using.

  8. Transfer frosting to pastry bag fitted with a large tip (I used an open star tip). Pipe frosting around the outer circumference of each cupcake.

  9. Use two small spoons (one spoon to scoop, one to scrape off other spoon) to transfer a scant teaspoon of caramel into the centres.

  10. Finish piping frosting onto cupcakes, first retracing your first circle, and moving inwards and up, creating a swirl effect.