Monday, September 3, 2012

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Salted caramel. Have you notice that this is one of THE most popular flavors? I like sweet and salty and so does my daughter, Kelley. For her birthday at our house this weekend, I made these cupcakes. I found them on the blog "Sprinkle Bakes" via Pinterest. (I also "borrowed" her photo complete with caramel frou frou!) They are "from scratch" (unlike the box variety that most home cooks call "homemade" these days!) and improve with age. I'm not going to kid you, they are NOT quick and easy, but they ARE well worth the effort. I knew Kelley would love them too and appreciate the effort. After all, she is the cupcake Queen having her own baking business for several years. I was really nervous making them, especially when it was time to frost! Her decorating skills are on an entirely different level than mine thanks to instruction from master cake baker/decorator Eileen Carter. But, Mama always said I didn't have sense enough to think there was anything I couldn't do, so I spent a good part of the day Friday baking these beauties!

Wouldn't you do anything for your children? I would. I love my two better than anything you can name. They are such very different people, but both are dear to me in their own way. Kelley and I have been buddies since she was little. She's a fantastic mom, loving wife and dear daughter/friend. I am so proud of the young woman she has become, but I do wish she would stop having birthdays!!!

Here's the recipe, but as you would expect, I made a few changes! The original was Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes. I had already made 2 batches of caramel and was not about to make the 3rd just for decoration. If you want to go that far, go to the blog and get the entire recipe. I'm giving you the Double Salted Caramel version! Pay attention to where the recipes call for unsalted or salted butter. NO SUBSTITUTES! ( I also did NOT say this recipe is inexpensive to make!)

Confession: I burned the 2nd batch of caramel! PHEW!! If that happens, throw it out and start over.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon SEA SALT
1 stick UNSALTED butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin pans with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Cream butter and brown sugar on medium- high speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat well after each addition.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Salted Caramel Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons SALTED butter, cubed
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, room temperature

Melt sugar in heavy bottom pan over medium high heat. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color (shiny new penny color for me). Add butter and stir until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam and pop!) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Cut a small round piece (plug) from the top of each cupcake. Pour in 1 teaspoon caramel sauce and replace the cake piece. Set aside.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup 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

Combine sugar and water in heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color (shiny new penny, again). Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes or until it is just barely warm but still pourable.
Beat butters and salt in large bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add caramel; beat on medium- high speed until light and airy and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use immediately. If it is runny, refrigerate until creamy. (Your caramel was too hot!). Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting.


  1. You sound like my mom...burning the caramel. After Daddy passed away she had a lot of sleepless nights. One of these nights she decided to make a cake and it just had to be one with caramel icing. At midnight as she was "burning" her sugar in her cast iron skillet, it set off the smoke alarm. This in turn set off the chain of calls from her security alarm and the fire dept was on the way to her house. When this happens they do not call the house with the alarm but rather the next contact person listed. My brother showed up at her house soon after and was relieved to find everything ok. Needless to say, we banned Mom from cooking after midnight:) Her caramel icing is tops, though!

  2. Jill, Mama made the BEST caramel icing, too. I have never mastered it (much to Kelley's dismay!) but this is close in taste - especially with the filling! LOVE your story!!! I would be up at midnight painting, not cooking these days!!! LOL!