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Dulce de leche translates as milk candy. Yes, it is milk and it is candy. Most people remember their first taste of dulce de leche; it has a “wow” factor. Then when people learn how easy it is to make dulce de leche, the wow turns to jaw-dropping amazement: place an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot and cover with water. Cook for 3 hours. Or, if you are in a hurry, place the can in pressure cooker with water, cover and bring to pressure, and then cook for 20-30 minutes. No, the can will not explode! Once the can has cooled, open the can and eat with a spoon. I suggest always cooking at least 2 cans at a time, because the first can will disappear as soon as you open the can!

If you can resist, use the “milk candy” to make these delicious cupcakes. Barb Nack, who is the director of the Kitchen Conservatory cooking school contributes this irresistible cupcake recipe. Vanilla sugar and vanilla bean paste are available here.

Dulce de Leche Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:

  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • dulce de leche (for filling)

for the frosting:

  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup butter at room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoons dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 350° and place paper liners in mini muffin pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and vanilla paste. Mix until well incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Fold in sour cream until smooth. Fill each lined cup ½ – 2/3 full.  Bake about 10-12 minutes. Cupcakes are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pans on wire rack.

Prepare frosting. In large mixing bowl, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the butter becomes thick and stiff. Add the dulce de leche and whip until combined. If needed, adjust consistency with powdered sugar. Fill a piping bag with small plain tip and dulce de leche. Insert into center of cupcake and fill, leaving a small dollop on top of cupcake.  Fill another piping bag with small star tip and the buttercream and finish decorating the cupcakes.

For more great cupcake recipes from Barb Nack, sign up for one of her upcoming cooking classes: carrot cupcakes on May 7, chocolate cake on May 18, and lots of doughnuts on June 18.