These little cakes have been a long time in the making. I guess you could call them my own personal Frankenstein. I’ve been searching for the perfect salted caramel cupcake recipe and although there are some good ones out there, I’ve never found the holy grail. I did find pieces and parts of different recipes that I loved and wanted to use again. I guess you could say that I stitched them all together and what you see above is the delicious result!
I experimented with the frosting until it had the perfect taste and texture. The recipes I had tried before were either too salty or not salty enough to carry the name. I also wanted the cake itself to have a caramel element instead of just being a mere vehicle for caramel frosting. I used a light brown-sugar cake recipe (which adds to the caramely taste) and added a rich salted caramel sauce to the center.
As a finishing touch, I added salted caramel rounds sprinkled with – not salt, but large crystal sugar (it just appears to be salted *wink). The salt is added while the caramel is cooking.
All the components are easy to make but the caramel will require your undivided attention. If you’ve caramelized sugar before, then you know things can go from zero to accidental lollipops in NO TIME FLAT. After the caramel sauce is made for the cupcakes, let it cool slightly. Cut a small round out of the top of each cupcake, but not too deep. You’ll drop about 1 teaspoon of caramel in the divot and cover it back up with the cake piece. You may be tempted to pour more caramel in, but trust me- more is not always better. One teaspoon is sufficient especially with the addition of very sweet buttercream on top!
While making the frosting (various times) I never could seem to get the saltiness perfected. I fiddled around with the salt measurements, but it didn’t come out right until I replaced one unsalted stick of butter for one salted stick of butter. In addition, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt is added. The flavor hits all the right notes without being too salty, yet you know by taste that it is salted caramel buttercream.
We may cry when these are all gone…
The salted caramel flourish is nice if you are serving these for a special occasion or if you want something a little showy. It tastes really good too! The picture below is from a cookbook I have demonstrating the caramel technique. I did the same thing except I moved my spoon in circles to form more of a spinning pattern.
I also wrapped my rolling pin in parchment paper and drizzled caramel back and forth over it to create a caramel arch. After it dried and I removed the paper, I had an extra-long candied caramel tunnel. I almost hated to break it apart!
If you don’t want to go to the extra trouble of making the candied caramel, then you can still have “triple caramel” by drizzling a little caramel syrup on the buttercream. You should have just enough left over after filling the cupcakes for a little extra on top.
Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Salted Caramel Filling:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons salted butter cubed
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick salted butter
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Candied Salted Caramel Rounds
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 2-4 tablespoons of large-crystal sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.
- Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Salted Caramel Filling
- Melt the sugar over medium high heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake and pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel. Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.
- In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting.
Candied Salted Caramel Rounds
- Lay out a large piece of parchment on your work surface and spray with cooking oil (such as canola). Fill a large tub (or your sink) partially full of ice water.
- Put sugar, salt and cold water in a heavy pan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring syrup to a boil. Lower heat slightly and swirl the pan once or twice as the syrup caramelizes so it will color evenly; do not stir. When the caramel is deep amber, plunge the base of the pan into ice water for about 2 seconds to stop further cooking.
- Working quickly, dip a spoon in the caramel and let it fall onto the parchment paper in a drizzle. Move the spoon in a circular motion as the syrup falls from the spoon. Repeat 15 times. When caramel has hardened (it will still be sticky) sprinkle on the large-crystal sugar. Remove from paper and adorn cupcakes.
Gorgeous! You are so incredibly talented. Those are beautiful and delicious!
OMG! I just love everything about this recipe! Fantastic!
these look so amazingly yummy! and they're beautiful!
The salted caramel got me in…your post kept me here in awe!!! If they are as tasty as they look…you certainly have a award winning cupcake!
Thanks for sharing such creativity.
Flavourful wishes, Claudia
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These look unbelievably good! And love those cupcake liners!! So cute!
Jeez Heather! Amazing again!
absolutely, ABSOLUTELY gorgeous!
LOL, I agree with Kathleen!
They're gorgeous without being unappetizing looking. I like food that this isn't too perfect looking. Your cupcakes are perfect and I adore salted caramel.
I believe your diligence paid off! These look amazing! My favorite photo is the overhead shot of the cupcake with the hole in the middle, filled with caramel…Mmmmmm! Deeeelicious!
Holy crap! Those look sooooo good. I've been looking for the perfect dessert for this week's craft club, and – thanks to you – I just found it.
These are to die for! I love, love, LOVE the caramel rounds.
Thanks for sharing!
absolutely gorgeous!! I can't wait to try these 🙂
These are stunning to look at, I can only imagine how they would taste. I'm glad you perfected what you wanted and thank you for sharing it!!! Printing this out!!!
Great cupcake idea. Very nice inspiration.
These are so great. Very commendable.
Check out my site for more recipes and Food Science baking tips and let me know what you think!
These look to die for! I love anything caramel and I have been wanting to make something like this for a long time!
Oh. My. God!!! My sister's bridal shower is in a few weeks, and I am in charge of desserts. I had been planning to make cupcakes…and these will DEFINITELY make an appearance!!! Wow! 🙂
Wow. I cannot believe how awesome this is!
So pretty, I especially like the last one with the domed carmel on top.
Wow, these are beautiful! I have never heard of salted caramel before and just for that reason, I think I will give this a try for a special occasion. I'm sure they are delicious.
Now that is art.
shut the front doooooooooooooor those are crazy amazing!
Sugar Wizard 🙂
Ohhhh wow these look some of the nicest cupcakes ever!! Delicious!
Well I found you!
A great idea! Sure you try it!
These look so impressive! I love the caramel round garnish and the crystal sugar finishes it off nicely. Beautiful as always. 🙂
What a cool decoration idea! I remember the caramel decorations well in pastry school…I always had to make them, everyone else was TERRIFIED of a little burning sugar. Silly people.
I made these last night. EVERYONE loved them. Thanks for the recipe. 🙂
These look so good!! I need to make these!! Check my blog out at
Oh my yumness! That caramel halo needs to be eaten RIGHT NOW! I cannot wait to make these, although its always better when the pros make it. Thank you for sharing! What a lovely treat!
Cute! I LOVE this idea.
*Runs to kitchen* =D
Thanks so much for posting these! I made them today (minus the decorations) and they were a hit! I need to practice making the sugar/water mix for the icing as mine got a little lunpy – but it still was yummy!
I CANNOT stop staring at your photos!!! Not only does the recipe sound wonderful your presentation is out of this world!!! Excuse me while I go look at your photos again…:-)
Oh la la!! Don't these just look too good!! Your photos are so wonderful I want to lick my computer screen! You really do give your viewers the desire to try all the things that you have made and shared with us. And thanks so much for sharing! Looking forward to your next post! Take care, Cat
These are beautiful! I took the computer over to my hubs and asked, should I try? I bet I would cry too when they were all gone.
These look and sound amazing! I love anything that has the two words "salted caramel" in it. Beautiful photos as well 🙂
It looks absolutely gorgeous!!
beautiful! do you use those lowel ego lights and a macro. really great photos!
these are a work of art
Hi there! Just wanted to say that after seeing this post a few days ago, I decided I had to try it out. Never before have I gone online and found a recipe that was so easy to follow and had the results turn out exactly as expected. Thank you- it's a keeper! 😀
I made these last weekend and they were SO good! I love that they weren't too sweet at all and I really LOVED the frosting, the level of saltiness is perfect! I didn't make the pretty caramel/salt topper, but I will definitely try if I have time again 🙂 Thanks!
I saw this yesterday, and I'm making them today! I've got homemade vanilla extract at home that ready to be used, so I'm super excited! …a bit nervous about making the caramel sauce since it's so sensitive, but hopefully it'll go smoothly. They definitely have to make an appearance at my sister's bridal shower! Thanks Heather!
Hola me encanto tu blog!, abri uno para poderte comentar, estan super creativas tus ideas me encantan!
i hope you understand spanish.. i have very bad grammar sorry!!
Gorgeous! I am just starting to play with caramelized sugar, and this is lovely! I'll have to give it a try 😀
Oh my~~~ be still my heart!!
AWESOME recipe! I made them using 1 cup whole wheat flour/ .5 cup all purpose flour today, and they turned out beautifully.
i absolutely cannot tell you how big of a hit these were for an anniversary party i hosted! they are absolutely incredible and have instantly become my new favorite dessert to make. kudos!
How long do the caramel rounds keep? Did you make them a week before your party or longer?
Hi Ameeta! The caramel rounds don’t keep very long. Their beauty is fleeting. They only last a few hours on the cupcakes, so you’d need to make them the same day you plan to serve them.
Just wanted to thank you for this to-die-for recipe! Seriously the best cupcakes ever!! I hosted a girls' night to test this recipe among others, and it was by far the favorite and has been requested for two showers I've thrown!