Mystery Box Challenge – Pirate’s Booty Cupcakes

It’s kind of funny that the two ‘secret ingredient’ style contests this month were raspberry (Cupcake Hero) and white chocolate (Mystery Box), considering we posted White Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes about a month ago.  For the Mystery Box Challenge, we wanted to do something different, something a little more fun – an actual challenge.  And a challenge is exactly what we got!  I dunno if we were having an off day or what, but there were a couple disasters that nearly killed these cupcakes.  Luckily, we rebounded and the final result was AWESOME.  We got rave reviews on these from our tasters who said they were uniquely delicious.  So we’re quite happy to present the Pirate’s Booty cupcake:  white chocolate chip cake and salted caramel buttercream frosting with a pretzel crust buried underneath.

Pirate's Booty CupcakeOne part of the challenge was to use high quality white chocolate, so we found a bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips:

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips

We added these to a basic white cake batter:

Adding white chocolate chips to batter

But before we could pour the batter into the cups, we needed to make the “buried treasure” part of our cupcakes.  We started by smashing up some pretzels and combining them with melted butter and sugar:

Pretzels with butter and sugar

We pressed a little bit of this mixture into each cupcake wrapper, then topped it with even more white chocolate chips.

Pretzel Crust with White Chocolate Chips

We baked these for five minutes, expecting the chips to melt.  Disaster #1… they didn’t.  They got kind of brown on the outside instead.  Still very delicious… just totally weird.  After the crusts cooled a bit, we added the cake mix:

White Chocolate Chip cake batter

About 20 minutes later, these guys came out of the oven looking gorgeous:

Naked Cupcake

Next up, the frosting.  We chose a recipe off of bakeanddestroy.com because other recipes of theirs had worked out really well for us in the past.  If you’re not familiar with them, I highly recommend checking out the site.  The first part of their Salted Caramel Buttercream calls for sugar and water to be boiled until dark amber:

Boiling Sugar

After it’s reached the right color, we took it off the heat and added cream and vanilla.  This came together as a caramel sauce:

Caramel Sauce

Disaster #2…. It tasted disgusting.  I don’t know if we screwed up the recipe or what, but it was make-a-face bad.  We thought maybe it would taste better once we added butter and sugar.  We whipped it all up and it sure looked pretty:

Caramel Buttercream

Distaster #3… It still tasted disgusting.  We tried doctoring it up, but nothing took the bitterness out of it.  So, we did the only thing we could do and tossed it.  I hate to throw food away, but I couldn’t have asked people to eat the first batch knowing how much I hated it.  We made the second batch from scratch, using a caramel recipe that Lisa conveniently keeps in her brain.  We boiled sugar with butter and cream:

Second Caramel Batch

Then we whipped it for about a half an hour.  I’m not exaggerating there – it was exhausting!  We knew we were done when it turned a lovely caramel color and reached a saucy consistency.

2nd Batch of Caramel

We threw this in the mixer with butter, powdered sugar, and salt.  After beating, it was still very soupy.  Many of the recipes we read said to pop the frosting in the fridge and then rewhip after 45 minutes.  Did we mention we were on a time crunch?  Disaster #4!  Here we are waiting around:

Lisa and KT, waiting around

After waiting and whipping, the frosting really did have a nice texture.  Very fluffy:

Salted Caramel Frosting

We decided to try out one of our new star tips for this one.  Turns out using a larger tip on these, which added more frosting, was a great idea because it was so light and airy:

Frosting the cupcakes

Ready for disaster #5?  The frosting recipe didn’t make enough for 24 cupcakes.  It was really close, but by the end, they were looking REALLY messy.   We decorated with gold sugar, which helped off set some of the uglier cupcakes:

Decorating with gold sugar

Then we added a white chocolate skull that we made with a mold:

Skull-topped cupcakes

We were really happy with how they managed to turn out, despite our set backs.  They tasted even better than expected!  Some of our tasters said:

“The sweet and the salty worked very well together. I’ve never had a cupcake that mixed the two like that and it worked very well.  The pretzels were good-sized. Overall, it was a bit crumbly, but the flavor and texture worked.

White chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting

“Frosting – light, fluffy, almost ethereal – like eating a cloud – with a carmel finish – very nice change from typical cupcake frostings.”

Buried Booty Cross-section

“To only have half is torture.” (Sorry, Sabrina – I didn’t know how popular these would be!)

Like I said way back there at the top, these were made for the Mystery Box Challenge.  Information about the contest is located here.  The winner of August’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:

Thank you to all our prize sponsors!

KT Cupcake
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Comments (8)

JamieanneAugust 18th, 2010 at 11:52 pm

LOVE the story that goes along with these cupcakes! Despite your disasters, the end result looks so delicious. Great job, and good luck in the competition! :)

LisaAugust 19th, 2010 at 12:59 am

I would like to add that the frosting disaster actually led to a wicked-awesome new salted caramel frosting recipe….and so from adversity comes enlightenment =) Also, if anyone has an Alton Brown-esqe explanation for white chocolate chips refusing to melt, I’d be very interested to hear it.

LinaAugust 19th, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I love your pirate theme here! Sorry you had so many set backs along the way, but I think they looked great in the end. I absolutely adore your cupcake papers. How do I get ahold of those beauties? Please tell me that they are available in the States and are also incredibly inexpensive so I can snag some for myself.

KT CupcakeAugust 19th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

We got them at Hobby Lobby (in AZ) for about $2. I know that they have a website, so they might be available online. :) Good luck!

LinaAugust 20th, 2010 at 8:52 am

Ooh, thanks. Awesome price too!

C&C CakeryAugust 21st, 2010 at 9:09 am

Welp, just voted for you tasty little morsel! Good luck, girls! I really enjoy watching what comes out of your kitchen – because it’s always awesome.

saraAugust 21st, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Wow, these look amazing! I love the combination of salty and sweet, so these sound extremely delicious! Love the little skull on top, too…very pirate-y. :)

AngeAugust 22nd, 2010 at 9:57 am

These look awesome, despite your setbacks. Love the skulls. Good luck.

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