Malted Vanilla Cupcakes with Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting

Being a nursing student is hard. There's a lot of deadlines involved (which I'm no good at), a fair amount of studying (which I'm also no good at), and a great deal of worrying about things like money, time not spent, and relationships put on back burners. Basically, life would be better if it only consisted of concerts, baking for loved ones, playing guitar, going on dates...rainbows, lollipops...and unicorns.

On another note, spring has arrived. And with it comes my fear of our eight legged friends otherwise known as spiders. I think I feel one crawling up my back at this very instant. Turning to look would be a lot easier if a crowd surfer hadn't been violently thrown at me last night. What's that you ask? Oh, yes. I had the lovely opportunity to go see my fav band evs, Avenged Sevenfold. I know. You totally though I was into Britney Spear or Miranda Lambert. What is a girl like me with nursing school and a blog doing at concerts on Tuesday nights? Taking a much needed vacation from school and motherhood. Did I mention that I also had the pleasure of attending a comedy tour at the casino on Saturday night? And I bought my first $13 chocolate martini. Can you say toasted? That thing had me at the first sip. There were blow up dolls involved by the end of the night. 'Nuff said.

It might sound silly, but I am much too conservative to get involved in anything too crazy (I only took a picture with that blow up doll, what did you think?). I have family members who like to drink every night, relinquish resposibility, and act half their age. Me? I just like to bake. Like these cupcakes. These are my heroine. I need cupcakes...and all baked goods. And you. If you are reading. These cupcakes are awesome. Pretty soon I will post the recipe for the caramel with sour cream that I got from the same cookbook. I want to live in it. I can't wait for you to try it.

Malted Vanilla Cupcakes

Note: These cupcakes are very light and soft. Be sure to cool them completely before removing or they will crumble.

Makes 18 cupcakes

1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup malted milk powder
4 tbl salted butter at room temp
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup ice cold water
2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Fit a cupcake pan or two with 18 paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and malted milk powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted wih the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and shortening on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy, another 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer to low. Add in the dry ingredients, alternating with the ice water, in three seperate additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

In a seperate bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form. Fold into the cupcake batter until combined. Scoop into the cupcake pan filling each cup about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting

8 ounces milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbl corn syrup
2 tbl water
4 tbl salted butter
toffee bits (optional)

Put the chocolate chips in the bowl of a stand mixer and set aside. Warm the heavy cream in the microwave until scalding, about 1 minute.

In a small saucepan heat the sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissoved and the mixture is bubbling and a medium brown color (350 degrees on a candy thermometer), about 5 minutes. Slowly mix in the heavy cream, stirring constantly. Pour over the chocolate chips and let stand for 2 minutes. Gently mix using a wooden spoon until the chocolate and caramel are combined. Set the stand mixer on medium speed and whip until cool. Add the butter in 1/2 inch pieces and whip until fluffy. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with toffee bits if desired.

Cake and frosting adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

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