Cupcakes can sometimes get a bad rap for being overly cutesy or just another fad. But in Bay Ridge, Allison and Matt Robicelli are trying to change all of that with their aptly named bakery, Robicelli’s. They don’t do pastels or red velvet — instead they focus on grown-up-friendly flavors by using ingredients like dulce de leche, candied bacon or bourbon.
In this video, we get their advice on how to improve your own cupcakes at home before watching the Robicellis make one of their best-sellers: the Banana Foster. See below to learn how to make their salted caramel buttercream frosting.
Salted caramel buttercream frosting
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ lb cold butter—preferably European
Candy thermometer… non-negotiable!
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, add water, then add sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar. The last 2 help keep the sugar from crystallizing. Put the pot on high heat. It’s going to be there for a while. Be patient and keep your eye on it. Don’t go walking away and start watching TV or something.
Put yolks and eggs in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and turn to high. Just let it go! Eggs will triple in volume and go to “ribbons stage.” You can’t overwhip!
Wait on the sugar—looking for 235 degrees, or the “soft ball.” When it happens, be ready to move quickly. Turn off the mixer and add xanthan gum, turn to medium. Remove the thermometer from hot sugar. Lift with two hands.
Rest the lip of the saucepan on the edge of the mixer bowl. Slowly tilt and pour sugar in a slow steady stream down the side of the bowl. Don’t go too fast! If you do, there will be chunks of scrambled eggs in your buttercream. Once sugar is all in, turn the mixer to high. Beat until cool. Gauge this by putting the inside of your wrist to the outside of the bowl. It’s more accurate than your hands.
Switch out the whisk for the paddle. Next we’re adding the butter. It’s too heavy for the whisk and you’ll end up breaking your stand mixer if you stay with the whisk. Start cutting the butter into thin pieces—you could shave it with a cheese slicer if you’d like. Add butter piece by piece—pain in the derrière, yes, but we’re making an emulsion.
See, if you dump all the butter in at once, the butter and eggs will never combine properly and you’ll have a “broken” buttercream. You’ll be able to identify this easily—it’ll be a chunky, watery, hot mess. If your buttercream does break, you can fix it! Turn to medium-high, then add a little more butter, piece by piece, until fixed. Or try adding a little guar gum! This is very strong, so add a pinch and beat for a minute, then check.
Once your butter is added, turn the mixer to med/high to add some air—ten, twenty seconds at most. It should be fluffy and make you want to eat it with your fingers.