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Recipe: Caramel cupcakes with chocolate frosting and a Snickers center

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Utah baker and blogger Ashlee Prisbrey is one of the "seven deadly contestants" to participate in the upcoming Halloween Baking Championship series on Food Network.  The four- week culinary competition premieres Monday, October 5 on Food Network.  For more information go to Ashlee's blog at ashleemarie.com or here.

Caramel Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting and snickers center

Ingredients
Cupcake
2 C vanilla sugar (or 2 C sugar and 2 vanilla beans)
3 1/2 C cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 C butter softened
4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 C greek yogurt
1/2 C mayo
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 C dulce de leche
chopped up peanut caramel nougat candy bar

Frosting
5 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 C butter softened
3-4 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt (I forgot to put this in)
1/2 C whipping cream

Toppings
Black nonpareils
Black licorice wheels, un-wound, split and cut into 2 1/2 in long strands

Preheat oven to 350 (or convection oven at 325) If you don't have vanilla sugar already - Split the vanilla beans and scrap out the seed. Put the sugar, vanilla seeds and vanilla bean pods into a food processor and process until well blended, and seeds are throughout, let sit to the side.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add butter and mix on medium-low speed until you end up with a fine crumb
Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt and mayo until smooth.
Add the dulce de leche while beating on low.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be runny
Fill 24 cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
sprinkle the chopped candy bar on top, about 4 small pieces per cupcake
Bake for 14-18 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They should not turn a golden brown.
When the cupcakes are done, remove from pan and let cool

Frosting
Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth
add 3 C powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until smooth
add more powdered sugar 1/4 C at a time until you have a very THICK frosting, too thick to spread easily.
In a separate bowl whisk the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks
add 1/2 the whipped whipping cream to the frosting and mix until just combined, adding more if needed to get a smooth frosting

Assemble
Frost the top of the cupcake with a flat round circle of frosting
dip the cupcake into a bowl of the black nonpareils until the frosting is completely coated
using a toothpick to help push 8 licorice "legs" into each cupcake (4 on each side)