Salted caramel just may be my favorite thing in the world. Whether it’s in the form of caramel sauce, chewy caramels, or the sweet and salty crunch of caramel corn…I love it all! When trying to decide what to make for our PTA’s Pumpkin Tour a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I didn’t have any cupcakes devoted to that sweet & salty combination that I love so dearly. That was a situation that needed to be remedied immediately!
So, I did what I always do with experimental cupcakery – used my favorite vanilla cake recipe, and then proceeded to add a bunch of homemade salted caramel sauce to it. Same deal with the buttercream frosting. An additional drizzling of sauce and a sprinkle of top-notch sea salt…and you have yourself a damn fine cupcake!
While I love fleur-de-sel, I used Maldon sea salt here, which is actually a British hand-harvested sea salt. The crystals are giant square shaped flaky pyramids, but still as light as a feather. They really show themselves off nicely, and don’t just melt into the frosting as some finer salts would.
I ordered mine online a year or so ago, but I’m pleased to report that my local gourmet food shop now carries it for a really reasonable price – so if you’re local, Poseidon’s Pantry here on Chincoteague has you covered.
What you end up with is a deliciously tender and moist cake bursting with the roasty sweet notes of caramel. And the pinch of sea salt on top just adds the perfect salty bite and slight crunch. They went in a flash at the bake sale, and I know it’s definitely one I’ll be making again and again. It’s also great in cake form as well! I hope you get a chance to make and enjoy it soon. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Salted Caramel Cupcakes
3 cups cake flour (or 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour + 3 Tbsp cornstarch)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Salted caramel sauce, for garnish
Sea salt, for garnish
For the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cupcake tins with paper liners, set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy,about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the caramel sauce, and mix for 15 seconds longer.
Fill the cupcakes liners 2/3 of the way full with batter (I like to use a large cookie scoop). Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in pan about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter over medium speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, and carefully add in the confectioners sugar and the pinch of salt. Add the vanilla extract, as well as the caramel sauce. Increase speed to medium, and beat until smooth and well combined.
Frost cupcakes as desired (I used Wilton 2D) and drizzle with caramel sauce. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt just before serving.