There's something in the water around here. It seems as if Brian and I are surrounded by friends having babies! We have officially become the only couple amongst our close Charlottesville friends who does not have a tiny addition to the family. And, it kind of freaks me out. Just a bit. We're not ready for all of that yet, but it sure does get the gears in your head turning when you're tickling those tiny toes or witnessing first giggles. Those turning gears, they're something that I was never all that sure I would experience and now that I am...wow. Mind-boggling. Brian has asked me more than once who I am and what I've done with his wife, for this whole biological clock thing was never something that either one of us gave a whole lot of merit. Well it exists, I assure you.
The arrival of these tiny humans brings along something that I can wrap my mind around...baby parties. The kind where both men and women are invited, and the focus is on good food and fun [yard] games and great friends giving advice to the new parents-to-be. I love an excuse to plan a party, and the arrival of a new being sure seems like a wonderful reason to celebrate!
A couple of Saturdays ago I helped to plan a baby party for our good friends Tommy and Kristin. Their little girl arrives in just over a month, and we couldn't be more excited and happy for them! This party was a fiesta of sorts, decorated with bright balloons and citrus-y hues. We had carnitas tacos, and veggie tacos, and cilantro lime slaw, guacamole, black beans, and dulce de leche cupcakes. I fully intended to photograph the carnitas to share with you but, well, when you're co-hosting the party it is tough to remember to pick up your camera. I did manage to capture some images of the cupcakes, so they will have to do. I promise, you won't be disappointed.
These cupcakes come from Joy, who never ceases to amaze me with the cleverness of her recipes. If I think of something, chances are Joy's already done it. And every single recipe I've ever tried of hers has been a winner, so I typically don't question her methods. This was no exception. Seriously, who could go wrong with cream cheese and dulce de leche whipped into a buttercream frosting? It is one of the best things you'll ever taste, I promise.
Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
from joy the baker
makes 24 cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup dulce de leche (I used canned, Nestle brand, dulce de leche. Not the best, and next time I'll find a better brand, but it still worked well in the frosting.)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
To make the cupcakes:
- Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Beat on medium for one minute. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition. Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture. Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk. Beat until just incorporated. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula. Try not to over mix.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.
To make the frosting:
- Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color.
- Use a large frosting tip to swirl the frosting onto the tops of the cupcakes.
- Garnish with fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt.
For more pictures of Tommy + Kristin's baby party, visit the AHPhoto blog!