I’ve hesitated for a long time on whether to share these ice cream cupcakes, partly because they’re a little bit high-maintenance, and partly because after a while, the photos started to seem a bit lackluster and destroyed my motivation. But for some reason, I’ve kept all those photos on my computer anyhow and kept the recipe safely tucked away, so now that I’ve had a slight change of heart I’ve decided they’re going public. My opinions haven’t really changed, but I know that sometimes the best recipes aren’t the ones with the most glamerous photos, and even a very high-mainentance recipe can be a huge hit when it comes to ice cream cupcakes. So without further ado, let’s talk about how indulgent these babies are!
What you see here is four layers of totally over-the-top goodness: rich chocolate cupcake, salted caramel chocolate ganache, vanilla bean ice cream, and salted caramel drizzle. Wooh! Pile them on one after another in cupcake liners and you’ve got yourself what’s essentially the individually-sized version of an ice cream cake, but with a surprise middle layer of gooey-caramel-laden ganache for a little bit of sinfulness. And lemme tell you – these are definitley on the rich side. That’s why they’re allowed to be a little fussy to make; you probably won’t make them often, but when you do, they’ll be majorly worth it.
Think ice cream cake in mini form with four layers of indulgence: chocolate cupcake, salted caramel chocolate ganache, vanilla bean ice cream, and salted caramel drizzle.
- 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) vanila sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 7/8 ounces (3/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon, spoon and level) all-purpose flour
- 5/8 ounce (1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon) cocoa powder (not dutch-process)
- 3/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 egg, room temperature*
- 2 1/8 ounces (1/4 cup) sour cream, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) hot coffee (or water)**
- 7 ounces (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 8 1/4 ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 - 2 quarts vanilla bean ice cream, softened***
- sea salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350ºF with oven racks in bottom and top third positions. Line two standard 12-cup muffin tins with foil liners.****
- In a large, heat-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add egg, sour cream, and vegetable oil and fold in just until evenly combined. Stir in coffee (or water) just until smooth.
- Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each muffin cup. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, flipping and rotating trays halfway through baking time, just until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, keep covered until ready to begin assembling cupcakes.
- Place sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, evenly spread out to cover pan's bottom surface. Place over medium-low heat and let heat until sugar begins to liquefy. As this happens, use a heat-safe spatula to spoon liquified sugar over solid sugar until all has melted. Continue to stir gently until caramel reaches a rusty copper color. Meanwhile, towards the end of this time, heat cream in microwave for 60-90 seconds, until just beginning to boil.
- Once caramel reaches proper color, immediatley remove from heat. While stirring, slowly and carefully pour in cream. Mixture will boil rapidly; continue to stir until bubbling subsides.
- Return caramel to low heat if needed to melt any bits of sugar that may have seized (hardened), stirring constantly.*****Remove from heat and stir in sea salt.
- Transfer 1/2 cup of caramel to a heat-safe container and let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place chocolate in a med-large, microwave-safe bowl. Once caramel has cooled briefly, pour over chocolate to submerge completely, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until as smooth as possible, and then (if needed) microwave for 5-second increments, stirring in between, until completely smooth.
- Spoon a thin layer of caramel ganache over each cupcake to cover completely. Cover and allow to cool and set. Freeze for 1 hour before adding ice cream.
- Store remaining caramel in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.
- Working with 1-2 cupcakes at a time and leaving remaining in freezer, spoon ice cream into each cupcake to fill to top and level off with a knife or icing spatula. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.
- Just before serving, peel off foil liners, drizzle with salted caramel, and sprinkle with sea salt.
*To measure half an egg, crack and whisk well before splitting in half by volume, or (preferably) by weight.
**Coffee simply helps intensify the chocolate flavor of the cupcakes, but water may be subsitituted if desired.
***If ice cream is freshly made for this recipe, freeze for about 20 minutes after churning before adding to cupcakes.
****If you only have one muffin tin, bake the cupcakes in two seperate batches on middle oven rack, rinsing the tin with cold water and drying thoroughly between batches.
*****You don't want to cook the caramel for very long after adding the cream, so if necessary, you can just scoop out any seized sugar rather than trying to re-melt it.