I started a new job a few weeks ago, which is always a huge adjustment. It was my new coworker’s birthday recently, and since she’s been SO nice and welcoming to me, I wanted to make her a batch of cupcakes to celebrate. After all, baking is basically how I make friends.
I’ve made salted caramel cupcakes before but I felt that they were overly sweet, so I decided to take a slightly different approach this time with a dark chocolate cupcake base. Of course, dark chocolate is rich enough on it’s own that I didn’t want to overdo it on the frosting, so I kept it on the lighter side. You’re probably sitting there thinking, “how do you make caramel frosting LIGHT?” Honestly, you just add a little less caramel and as long as you beat the butter until it’s super fluffy, you don’t need to add as much sugar, which really helps tone down the flavor. Since you’re getting extra sweetness from the caramel, you don’t need the full amount of powdered sugar as a standard vanilla buttercream.
All together and topped with some caramel and course salt, these dark chocolate salted caramel cupcakes are a total HIT in my book. In fact, I think these chocolate cupcakes will go done as one of my favorites of all time because they baked so perfectly!
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another, mix together the buttermilk and hot water.
Cream the softened butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds. Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the liquid mixture until completely combined and the batter is smooth.
Distribute the batter among the lined cupcake cavities and bake for about 18 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt (if not using salted caramel)
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce (homemade or store bought, salted is optional)
- Course salt, optional (for topping)
You can use a salted or regular caramel sauce and just add a little salt to the frosting if you’re using regular sauce. Also, if you click the link above for homemade caramel sauce, you can follow my super simple recipe if you prefer to make your own rather than buy it at the store.
In your mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream and mix to combine. On medium-high speed, continue whipping the frosting for about 5 more minutes. Add in caramel sauce and mix until just combined.
Pipe the frosting onto cooled cupcakes (psst…you can also fill your cupcakes with caramel if you want!) and top with some additional caramel sauce and course salt. When you bite into one, it’s the perfect combination of sweet, rich and salty. Basically, it’s a match made in heaven. Enjoy!