Special equipment: small blowtorch
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a regular-size cupcake pan with 20 paper liners and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, measure the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine. Then measure the sour cream, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla pudding, buttermilk and vanilla extract into the mixing bowl and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Turn the mixer back on medium speed and mix until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to stir the batter. Make sure that all flour and dry ingredients are completely combined into the batter.
Fill 20 cupcake liners two-thirds full with batter and bake until the top bounces back when touched, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely.
For the creme brulee filling: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Whisk together the sugar, vanilla bean paste and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream until completely combined. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Place the casserole dish on an 18-by-13-inch cookie sheet, and pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the cookie sheet to use as a water bath. Bake until set (when it does not jiggle when shaken) for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once completely cooled, scoop up all of the baked creme brulee and put in a pastry bag. Cut 1/2-inch off the top of the pastry bag. Set aside.
For the caramel frosting: Whip the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until soft and fluffy. Stop the mixer and add approximately half of the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer onto low for 30 seconds, and then to medium until combined. Stop the mixer and add the rest of the powdered sugar along with the dulce de leche, evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Mix the frosting on low until the powdered sugar starts to incorporate. Then turn the mixer to medium-high and mix until very light and fluffy. Put the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.
To assemble: Using a large round piping tip, cut a hole in the center of each baked cupcake. Fill each cupcake generously with the creme brulee filling. Then frost the top of each cupcake with the caramel frosting. Sprinkle each frosted cupcake with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. With a torch, torch the sugar on top of each cupcake until golden brown. Garnish with a fresh raspberry and serve.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Megan Faulkner Brown, Cupcake Wars, 2011