This recipe is the motherload of all that is salted caramel! Caramel cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting and salted caramel candies.
If you like salted caramel, I can tell you three ways why you’re going to LOVE this cupcake.
(1) The cupcake itself is… wait for it… caramel flavored. A brown sugar and caramel flavored cupcake to be exact. (2) Swirled on top of the caramel cupcake is a thick layer of salted caramel frosting. (3) Adorning that luscious frosting is a petite salted caramel candy. It’s a triple threat cupcake.
Sweet caramel cupcake, thick salted caramel frosting, adorable salted caramel candy. My taste testers (hi Erin and Megan!) said these are the best cupcakes they have EVER eaten. Hands down, they are my new favorite cupcake as well.
Let’s begin with the homemade cupcake. The recipe yields 12 standard size cupcakes – just enough to share with friends, coworkers, or your family. After saving a few cupcakes for myself and friends, I brought them into work and they were gone by 9:15am. Breakfast of champions.
The ingredient list and baking method are both very simple. Forget the boxed mix and make a cupcake from scratch. There is nothing like a homemade cupcake and these are just as easy as a boxed mix, I promise.
Flour, baking powder, and salt make up your dry ingredients. Quite standard. Then, beat butter, sugars, eggs, milk, and vanilla together. The fat used in this cupcake recipe is butter. Typically, I prefer to use oil in my cakes and cupcakes because it lends a moist and soft texture, more so than butter. I like to use oil when there are other overpowering tastes in the batter – like a chocolate cupcake or a pumpkin cupcake. However, a few of my homemade cupcake recipes like funfetti or apple spice need the enhanced flavor of butter, something oil cannot provide.
Today’s cupcake is caramel flavored. The taste of butter is an essential piece to caramel flavor, which is why butter (and not oil) is used. The cupcakes are still very soft and moist because I use 2 eggs and a prevalent amount of brown sugar. Brown sugar lends a soft texture to baked goods. Make sure to use dark brown sugar in this cupcake recipe, which has more profound caramel and butterscotch undertones compared to light brown sugar.
The salted caramel frosting. Oh my goodness, this frosting is legendary. It’s a bit thicker than the salted caramel frosting I’ve made before. Today’s version tastes identical to salty caramel corn, but in creamy dreamy frosting form.
I followed my original salted caramel frosting recipe, but made a few simple changes. Melt butter, dark brown sugar, and heavy cream on the stove. You are making homemade caramel in this step. Allow the caramel to bubble and boil. I kept the caramel sauce bubbling on the stove for 3 full minutes, as opposed to 1 minute in my original recipe. This extended period of time browned (but did not burn) the caramel. Remove from heat and stir in salt.
Allow the caramel to cool completely at room temperature. Do NOT put caramel in the refrigerator to cool. My caramel took about 15 minutes to come to room temperature. Once the caramel is no longer warm, beat in the powdered sugar with a hand mixer.
Once the cupcakes were cool, I swirled the frosting on top with a knife – rustic style! I gave my piping tips a break. The recipe makes enough frosting to really pile it on high. I had some extra frosting leftover that I used to frost leftover cookies. Extra frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature again before frosting anything.
The little caramel candies on top complete the whole cupcake “outfit.” I used store-bought soft caramel candies, cut them in half, dipped them in melted chocolate, and sprinkled them with course sea salt. I ran out of time, so only some of them were dipped into chocolate. If you don’t have time to dip caramels into chocolate, simply use store-bought caramels – or any caramel decoration of choice. Or leave out the topping completely!
I also used Rolo candies too.
The caramel/brown sugar flavored cupcakes are soft and tender, but sturdy enough to support the thick salted caramel frosting. I admit, I ate one even before I frosted them!
A few hours after frosting the cupcakes, I found that the salted caramel frosting “set” and thickened/stiffened up even more, giving the frosting a candied-like coating. One bite of the cupcake leaves some serious teeth marks into the frosting.
There is SO much flavor into every bite. You’re getting salted caramel from every angle possible, making these cupcakes dangerously good. Are you ready for this?
Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Caramel cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting and salted caramel candies.
Yield: 12 cupcakes
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (200 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs, must be at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk (or heavy cream or half-and-half, do not use skim milk or 1% milk)
Thick Salted Caramel Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) salted butter (or unsalted butter)
- 1 cup (200 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 cups (240-360 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- additional pinch of salt, as needed
- salted caramel candies for decoration, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, beat the butter and sugars together at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until no flour remains, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly stir in the milk. Do not overmix the batter.
- Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full, dividing the batter between all 12. Bake cupcakes for 22-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting, about 1 hour.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add salt. Allow to bubble for 3 full minutes, no more. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool, only about 15 minutes. Do not place in the refrigerator to cool. With a hand mixer at medium speed, beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until you reach desired consistency. Add a little heavy cream if you'd like the frosting a little creamier. Add more salt if the frosting tastes too sweet. Frost cooled cupcakes and adorn with salted caramel candies. Cupcakes stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
*Extra frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature again before frosting anything.
Cupcake recipe adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski.
Frosting recipe by Sally's Baking Addiction.
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Do you like caramel as much as I do? Let’s indulge…