Monday, February 4, 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

As a person who loves baking and cooking, there are a lot of garbage foods that people don't expect me to like.

McDonald's Quarter Pounders? Get in my face.

Cool-Whip? Guilty.

Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls? Until someone comes up with a way for me to bake these at home, Little Debbie will get two of my hard-earned dollars the one time a year I allow myself to buy these hydrogenated oil-laden treats.

Cake mix is another one of those processed junk foods that I like...kind of. I love that boxed cake mixes bake up consistently fluffy, moist, and light, but I don't love that they don't taste very strongly of chocolate. They just taste sweet, with a barely discernible chocolate flavor.

These cupcakes have all the wonderful qualities of a cake mix - the light, fluffy texture, the moist crumb, and the ability to stand up to a huge mound of frosting, while also actually tasting like real chocolate.

You can certainly make these as basic chocolate cupcakes, but I made them even better by following Emily's instructions to transform these into Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes. The center of the cupcake gets cored out and filled with salted caramel sauce, and then topped with a rich chocolate ganache, and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. If you've been reading my blog for awhile you're probably aware that I'm a HUGE fan of sweet + salty desserts, and these were absolute perfection.

I brought these over to a friend's house for dinner Friday night, and one of the girls there brought a couple cupcakes home to her husband. I got this message from her on Facebook the next day (B = her husband). Sooo, ladies? Make these for the man in your life this Valentine's Day. Just sayin'...

Here's what you'll need:

For the cupcakes:

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot coffee
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup bread flour, spooned and swept (do not use a substitute for bread flour)
Caramel sauce (use salted caramel sauce if you can find it - I know Trader Joe's carries it. If you can't find salted caramel, just mix the regular caramel with a pinch of sea salt or fleur de sel to taste.)

For the frosting:

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup (I used dark)
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (do not use chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.

Combine bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee over it. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Whisk until smooth, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the chocolate coffee mixture until thoroughly combined.  Add the salt and baking soda, and whisk until combined. Whisk in the sugar until combined, and lastly the bread flour. Do not overmix.

Fill each liner with about 1/4 cup of batter, and bake in preheated oven for 17-19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan for one minute (removing cupcakes from the pan quickly after baking prevents the cupcakes from pulling away from the liners - a common problem with homemade chocolate cupcakes), and then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, mix together the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is very hot. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and pour the cream mixture on top. Let sit for two minutes. Stir until the chocolate has melted (if necessary, add the mixture back into the saucepan to facilitate melting), add the butter, and stir until that melts too. Let the frosting sit for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will firm up as it cools, but depending on the temperature of your kitchen you may need to stick it in the fridge for five minutes to get it to the correct consistency for piping.

When the cupcakes are cool, hollow out the middle of the cupcake using preferred method. You can buy cupcake corers at Target, use a paring knife to carve a hole, use an apple corer, or do what I did and use the wide end of a decorating tip to cut one out. Fill each hole with salted caramel.

Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and try not to eat all 12 at once!


- I used a Wilton 230 tip to core the cupcakes, and an Ateco 869 tip to frost them.
- It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to pipe the frosting onto the cupcake the way I did in the photo. I had a major "duh" moment when I saw Jamie's cupcake frosting video a couple years ago. (See 3 minutes and 39 seconds in)
- I didn't take a photograph of the inside of these cupcakes, because caramel is kind of dark, and you couldn't really see it very well when I cut one in half. I decided it wasn't worth photographing, and then I ate my photography subject. If you want to see a photo of the cupcakes being filled, go take a peek at Emily's blog. She also has instructions for baking these at high altitude!

Source: Adapted from She Makes and Bakes and America's Test Kitchen

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  1. These look and sound SO tasty. Love salted caramel

  2. Get in my mouth salted caramel cupcake! Also, I have a tub of cool whip in my fridge at all times. ALWAYS. And I go at it with a spoon. I'm not ashamed.

  3. I just recently tried salted caramel for the first time and, sad to say, I'm hopelessly addicted. So I will most certainly be trying these out. They look sinfully delish!

  4. sweet + salty forever! also, that frosting job is perfection!

  5. I am guilty of loving quarter pounders too! I don't wanna like it, but I just do. These are sooooo pretty! Salted caramel anything gets me every single tie too!

  6. These sound awesome! I could probably stuff my face with about five of these. Yum!!

  7. These sound awesome! I could probably stuff my face with about five of these. Yum!

  8. Hahah. I love your friend's comment. Those are the same kind of comments I get when people try them. They usually need a moment. Glad you liked them! They're so amazing and so rich!

  9. I need like 10 of these right now! Agreed...those strawberry cake rolls are so good, it really should be illegal. :)

  10. Beautiful. I can't wait to try these! One question, though - what does it mean when bread flour is "swept"? I've never heard that term before. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Lianna!

      It means to spoon the flour into the measuring cup (as opposed to scooping it from the flour container using the measuring device) and use a knife to level off the measuring cup (which entails the "swept" part of the phrase) It might be explained a bit more coherently here:

      Hope that helps!

  11. Your Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes are so beautiful. I adore salted caramel and these must be heavenly! :) As much as I love to bake and cook, I have my own list of "junk food" that I can't resist as well. :P I think we can be really good friends...or partner in crime on the junks.

  12. These cupcakes look so amazing, and that frosting on top is just perfect! I think I'd be tempted to eat all the frosting before it ever made it to the cupcakes!

    1. It will definitely happen...quite a few spoonfuls did not make it on to the cupcakes.

  13. These sound out of this world amazing! I love anything with salted carmel on it!!!

  14. this is so impressive! thanks for sharing. I can't wait to try it even though baking is not my strong point!

  15. How much frosting does this make? I wanted to make a double batch of cupcakes, but didn't want to double the frosting if there was plenty of it left over. Thanks! these look amazing, and I can't wait to make/eat them :D

  16. oh and are you storing these in the fridge or just covered in plastic wrap? thanks again :)

    1. Hi Jay - I stored these on the counter because I don't like how cold cupcakes taste, but it's probably safer to store them in the fridge, due to the heavy cream in the frosting. I didn't poison myself, so it might be worth the risk :)

      As for the amount of frosting, I would double the recipe if you're doubling the batch of cupcakes.


    2. Thanks again! I think with the colder weather I would be ok with leaving them out for a night :D

  17. Gorgeous! These look great. I agree that cake mix can sometimes be really good! I like funefetti.

  18. I'm totally guilty of cool-whip too!

    And these cupcakes are just gorgeous! I think I may have to make them for Jason for V-day!

  19. Hello, gorgeous cupcake! Get in my face! :)

  20. Cupcakes are done, I tried one and it's soo good and I haven't even frosted them yet! Can't wait :D

  21. What difference is there between bread flour and all-purpose flour?

    1. Hi Nishan - bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose (and therefore provides more structure to the cupcake without making it dense). I don't recommend substituting all-purpose flour in this recipe.


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