Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Salted Caramel Cupcakes. Rich, ultra moist chocolate cake is frosted with salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream, sprinkled with chocolate covered almond toffee and drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
I LOVE cupcakes, don't you? Layer cakes are great too... Give me a tall slice of triple layer red velvet cake or vanilla cake any day of the week. But, there's something about having a little portable cake all to yourself that's fun and indulgent.
Back in my cake decorating days, I made 350 individual sized bunt cakes in lieu of a large wedding cake for a client. Holy moly, making all those bundt cakes was a lot of work. But serving them was a cinch.
And that's one of the best things about cupcakes. No slicing and plating pieces of cake. Just grab a cupcake and get busy enjoying it.
Two weeks ago I made the most delicious, silky smooth Salted Caramel Sauce and started pouring it on everything.
And that's how my daughter's theater troupe ended up with a tray of chocolate salted caramel cupcakes one Thursday afternoon. Because, cupcakes are made to be shared. There share-ability is, in fact, built right in. It's practically required.
I'll tell you right now that you're going to want to share these salted caramel cupcakes with everyone you know. Yes, you'll want to keep a couple for yourself. But, it's kind of like when you're out to eat with someone you love and your food is so good that you can't help but say, "You have just got to try this." That's how these chocolate salted caramel cupcakes are.
First of all, the cake is my absolute favorite of all time chocolate cake recipe. It's rich and chocolaty and oh, so moist. Second, these cupcakes are frosted with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream.
If you've never had Italian Meringue Buttercream, you're in for a treat.
Italian Meringue Buttercream is pretty much the only kind of frosting I make. Once you make it, I'm pretty sure it will become one of the only kinds of frosting you make as well. I don't generally even like frosting, but I could eat this stuff every day.
Here's a warning: reading the recipe for the first time, this buttercream can sound daunting. The recipe contains a lot of instructions because I really want everyone who makes Italian Meringue Buttercream to be successful. But, trust me. Make it once and you'll realize that it's actually quite simple.
Here's what a couple of my readers, both of whom had never made Italian Meringue Buttercream before, had to say about it...
"This frosting is amazing! I hate the sugary, hardened stuff that calls for tons of powdered sugar so I was excited to try this. I was nervous to make it since I haven’t attempted this sort of thing before but I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out light and fluffy and silky smooth, not to mention delicious."
"I’ve just finished making this buttercream to spread on a 4 tiered chocolate cake for my son’s 1st birthday. I had a taste and it is AMAZING!"
One of the best things about Italian Meringue Buttercream is how easy it is to incorporate flavoring - like salted caramel sauce. A cup or two of salted caramel sauce whipped into the finished buttercream turns this frosting into a salted caramel lovers dream. A drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top of the buttercream along with a sprinkle of chopped toffee, and you have mouth watering cupcakes that look as delicious as they taste.
Salted Caramel Cupcakes Recipe Notes
This salted caramel cupcake recipe calls for several different components: chocolate cupcakes, salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream, salted caramel sauce, and English toffee. Everything can certainly be made in the same day. That's what I did the first time I made these cupcakes. As long as you have a few hours to let the toffee and caramel sauce cool, it's totally doable. But...
Another option is to make each of these components on separate days. The chocolate cupcakes can be baked ahead of time and frozen for up to two months. To prevent freezer burn, wrap them individually in plastic wrap before placing them in freezer bags.
Salted Caramel Sauce
The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. The recipe makes a generous 3 cups, giving you plenty to whip into the buttercream and enough left over to drizzle on top of the cupcakes. The sauce firms up in the refrigerator, so before adding it to the buttercream, heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time. Remove the sauce to stir and test the temperature before additional heating. It's important that the sauce be no warmer than room temperature or it will melt the butter in the buttercream.
Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
Italian Meringue Buttercream is extremely versatile because it accepts all sorts of flavorings. You'll notice several flavor options in the recipe notes. For these salted caramel cupcakes, simply follow the instructions for the salted caramel version. If you've never made Italian Meringue Buttercream before, be sure to read all the recipe notes as well as the recipe instructions before you begin.
As I mentioned earlier, I've included a lot of instructions for this buttercream in an effort to make its preparation as straight forward as possible. But, please don't be intimidated. It's really not difficult to make and SO very worth it. The buttercream will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or up to 2 months in the freezer. You'll notice instructions at the bottom of the recipe for storing the buttercream in the refrigerator or freezer and bringing it back to a creamy, spreadable consistency.
Homemade English Toffee
This cupcake recipe also calls for chopped homemade toffee to sprinkle on top of the cupcakes. The toffee adds decoration as well as a buttery crunch that contrasts nicely with the the creamy buttercream and tender chocolate cake. Homemade toffee can also be made ahead of time and stored for up to 6 months. It's simple to make and wonderful to have on hand for spur-of-the-moment gifts and as a topping for ice cream, brownies, cream pies, and of course, cake and cupcakes.
By all means, if you'd rather not make homemade toffee, store bought will work just fine. You could also use any other type of candy that strikes your fancy. Heath, Butterfinger or Snickers candy bars would be delicious as well.
If you plan to make these salted caramel cupcakes all in one day, here's a good game plan:
- Get the homemade almond toffee started first, at least 6 hours before you plan to assemble the cupcakes. Make the salted caramel sauce while the candy is cooling. While the salted caramel sauce is cooling and the cupcakes are baking, coat the toffee with chocolate and chopped almonds as instructed in the recipe, and let it sit at room temperature to harden. You can also place the chocolate covered toffee in the refrigerator if you need the chocolate to firm up quickly.
- Make the salted caramel sauce early enough in the day that it can cool to room temperature - two to three hours in the refrigerator. Open up the refrigerator and stir the sauce from time to time if you want to expedite cooling. It's important that the sauce be no warmer than room temperature or it will melt the butter in the buttercream.
- While the salted caramel sauce is cooling, make the cupcakes. After the cupcakes have baked and cooled down to room temperature, cover them with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out while you make the buttercream.
- Make the Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream at least 1 hour before you plan to serve the cupcakes.
- Frost the cupcakes, chop up some of the toffee and sprinkle on top of the buttercream, and then drizzle the cupcakes with leftover caramel sauce.
- Share. Devour.
Lastly, I used a jumbo muffin pan for the salted caramel cupcakes pictured here because I wanted to make cupcakes that were large and over-the-top. But a regular size pan will work just as well. This recipe makes 12 jumbo cupcakes or 24 regular size cupcakes.
A few of my other all-time favorite cake recipes:
- Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
- German Chocolate Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
- Strawberry Mojito Cupcakes
- German Chocolate Cupcakes
- Carrot Cake Recipe with Caramel Rum Sauce
Rich, ultra moist chocolate cake frosted with salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream, sprinkled with chocolate almond toffee, and drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
- About 1 cup Homemade English Toffee, or store bought candy, chopped into small pieces
- 1 batch Salted Caramel Sauce, at room temperature
- 1 recipe Italian Meringue Buttercream - follow instructions for the Salted Caramel version
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup sour cream - OR plain, unsweetened full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
BAKE THE CUPCAKES:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugars, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the eggs, oil and sour cream. Mix on low just to combine, and then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and mix in the boiling water. Mix in the vanilla just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Bake jumbo size cupcakes for 30 - 35 minutes and regular size cupcakes for 20 - 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out mostly clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before lifting the cupcakes out of the pan to cool completely.
ASSEMBLE THE CUPCAKES:
Another option to almonds in the toffee: One reader commented that she used chocolate covered peanuts in the toffee with great success.
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