Friday, February 3, 2012

Salted Caramel Cupcakes & Frosting

As a follow up to my post about salted caramel, I return with a recipe for salted caramel cupcakes and frosting.  That's right, take out a pen and start taking notes because this is what you're going to want to make for your next party.  Actually, this is what you're going to want to make tonight.  Because they are to die for.  Stop going to those expensive bakeries and paying $3 for one lousy cupcake; make this at home instead.  It will be better and cheaper and it will impress everyone around you.  Salted caramel cupcakes with salted caramel frosting.  Grab yourself a cup of milk and settle in for the night, because this is the life, my friends.

These cupcakes don't take that long to make (the longest part, besides the baking and waiting, is making the caramel) and they require no special ingredients, but they taste phenomenal.  They are great gifts or dessert items for potlucks or dinner parties.  They are also the type of thing that is easy enough to throw together that you can justify baking it for yourself.  So why not?  The world could use a little more salted caramel love.

These cupcakes really do taste like they have salted caramel in them, which is exactly the quality I wanted.  I didn't want them to taste like sweet vanilla cupcakes; I didn't want to have to fill them with caramel sauce.  I wanted cupcakes that I could eat alone, on their own, and think mmm, salted caramel.  And that's exactly what this cupcake recipe achieves.  It is perfect on its own, it is delicious with milk, it is decadent with frosting.
The recipe has parts and pieces taken from many different recipes I've read online, but ultimately I wrote it based upon what I thought would make the best cupcake in terms of a light, moist, and flavorful crumb.  The one slightly uncommon ingredient on the list is "pourable" yogurt, but that's because I happen to have on hand Organic Valley's yogurt which comes in a bottle that you shake and pour.  I thought that yogurt's texture and viscosity were perfect for the recipe, but if you can't find something similar, regular yogurt or buttermilk will work just fine.

 As for the frosting recipe... I've said it once and I'll say it again: I don't do frosting.  With the exception of the Bailey's Irish Cocoa Frosting that I made once during an inspired moment, I think frosting is fairly overrated.  If a cake or cupcake is good enough, it shouldn't need to be covered in frosting.  Also, most frosting is just a lot of butter and sugar, which doesn't sound that great to me.  Except that this frosting tastes like heaven, if heaven were made predominantly of butter.  This salted caramel frosting is the perfect balance of sweet and salty, and it is creamy in a decadent way that manages not to make you feel gross, even when you eat a spoonful straight out of the bowl, on its own (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything).  And the frosting recipe obviously doesn't have to be for just these cupcakes.  It would go well with any cupcake recipe. You can even eat it with slices of apple or pear.

Salted Caramel Frosting, aka the only frosting recipe you need from now on

So really, I don't think I need to do any convincing, right?  Because you must know that this recipe is a crowd pleaser.  And when I say crowd, what I really mean is that you'll make these cupcakes, frost one, try it, and decide not to share with anyone because these are that darn good.

Food is love?  Salted caramel is love.

Salted Caramel
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup cream, at room temperature (normally I use heavy cream, but light cream also works)
1/2 tsp sea salt (I used Sel Gris De Guérande)

Combine the sugar and water and melt over medium high heat in a small pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color, this process takes about 10 minutes.
Add cream slowly.  Be careful as the mixture will foam/bubble.  Whisk until you get a smooth sauce.  If your cream is cold and the caramel seizes, just put it back on low heat and stir until the sauce is smooth.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

makes 1 dozen

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
5 tbsp salted caramel (see recipe above)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt (the pour-able kind, if you have it)
1 tsp vanilla  (optional)
pinch of sea salt (I used Sel Gris De Guérande, which is a grey sea salt)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
Cream butter, salted caramel, and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and sea salt and beat until light and fluffy.  Stop to scrape down the sides of bowl at least once to make sure everything is evenly incorporated.
Add 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder to the egg/butter mixture.  Beat until combined.  Add the other 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder.  Beat until mixture is smooth and combined.
Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners.
Bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
When done, cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the tin and let cool completely.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp cooled caramel filling
optional: 1 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes, until lightened and fluffy.
Add the caramel and beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 3-4 minutes).  Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes.

note: If your caramel was too hot when added, your butter will melt and the icing will be runny. I actually refrigerated my caramel overnight and just warmed it for 20 seconds in the microwave before using it.

**to frost a cake, double the recipe

These unfrosted cupcakes will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Frosted cupcakes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, if they last that long.



  1. These were the most delicious cupcakes I've ever tasted!!! Fantastic!

  2. Why have I still not eaten these?