There are days (ok most days) where I daydream about opening my own bakery. I hope one day in the future this dream becomes a reality. Two of my friend’s birthdays were last week so they had a joint celebration on Saturday night. I jump at any chance I can to bake and then give the delicious results away because I don’t need 20 cupcakes sitting in my house taunting me to eat them. And that’s exactly what those sneaky cupcake bastards do. They taunt me to eat them.
I asked my friends what kind of cake they’d want and my friend Ramzi said chocolate and caramel and my friend Adam said he’d never met a kind of cake he didn’t like. My mind immediately went to chocolate salted caramel. I found a great blog, 20 Something Cupakes, that had a recipe that was adapted from Martha Stewart that sounded perfect. Side note: I’m not the biggest Martha fan after she came to speak at my company a few months ago and came across very stuck-up, but they looked delicious so why not?!
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (made by taking 1 cup of milk and adding 1T of lemon juice)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup warm water
- Salted Caramel Filling, recipe below
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined. The batter will appear a little runny, this is ok.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks and allow to cool completely.
Use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake. Eat these extra pieces or throw them away. Make the salted caramel.
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. This process can take upwards of 10 minutes, so be patient. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.
Let cool for about 15 minutes; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm caramel into each hollowed-out cupcake. The caramel will slightly sink into the cupcake – just add a bit more.
Use the leftover caramel for the frosting and reserve a little bit to drizzle over the top of the cupcakes.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- About 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons leftover caramel sauce from above
Caramel should now be cool enough to use for the frosting. Make sure it’s slightly warm to the touch, and still pourable. If it’s hardened too much, gently reheat until pourable.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until light and airy, and completely mixed. If the frosting looks like it needs to set up a bit, refrigerate it for 15 – 20 minutes. The caramel walks a fine line between being either too warm, or too thick and not pourable if it gets too cool, so this affects the temperature of the frosting and you may need to compensate for that by refrigerating if the caramel warmed the frosting too much. Taste the frosting if it’s too salty, you can add a little more powdered sugar.
Use a pastry bag with an open-star tip and pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each by drizzling leftover caramel over the cupcake. I also garnished with a piece of salted caramel. Store at room temperature in airtight containers.
Makes approximately 20 cupcakes.
The cupcakes turned out awesome. Since the recipe calls for cocoa powder, the cake was just chocolatey enough without being overpowering. The salted caramel was deliciously salty and sweet and just oozes out of the cupcake when you bite into it. It’s a nice surprise for those not knowing it’s in the middle. The buttercream was also just the right combo of salty and sweet. I got a lot of rave reviews, which always make me know when a recipe is a keeper.