Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I’m curious – what do you associate with 52 Kitchen Adventures? I’ve avoided calling it a baking blog because I didn’t want to be stuck in a theme after being stuck in one for the first year of my blog (wondering why it’s called 52 Kitchen Adventures? See the “about” section to learn more). I know it doesn’t need a label but it’s hard to give a concise description when someone asks what the blog is about. And since I’ve always loved baking and have a big sweet tooth, I end up making and blogging about desserts a lot (here are all my dessert recipes). I think I might start calling it a baking blog (with a few other recipes thrown in the mix).

Anyway, I made these cupcakes for a coworker to celebrate some of her recent accomplishments. I’d never made salted caramel cupcakes and randomly decided that would be a good flavor to try out. I was lucky enough to stumble upon on Sprinkle Bakes and her Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes. She tried different recipes until she found her ideal balance of salty and sweet in a brown sugar cupcake with salted caramel filling, salted caramel buttercream and candied salted caramel rounds. I adapted her recipe slightly, leaving behind the decorative rounds of spun sugar (the other 3 recipes are already pretty time consuming) and adding a sprinkle of fleur de sel on top to really bring out the salty/sweet balance.

These cupcakes are so good! The cake is moist and sweet, the frosting is creamy and has a wonderful caramel flavor, but my favorite part is the salted caramel filling. Next time I will cut bigger holes and pour in more. I didn’t find the frosting had enough saltiness for a salted caramel cupcake, but sprinkling some fleur de sel on top did the trick. Try the frosting first and see what you think. You can always add more but it’s hard to remove if it’s too salty.

Recipe:

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes

Makes 15 cupcakes

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 °F. Line muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each until fully incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with 1/2 of the buttermilk, stirring after each until everything is combined.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin until each liner is 3/4 full. Bake for around 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Salted Caramel Filling

Making caramel can be tricky. For some tips, see this guide on how to make the perfect caramel from David Lebovitz.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
  • 
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook just the sugar. Whisk it occasionally as it melts and cook it until it turns a deep amber color. Then add the butter and stir until it is melted. Add the heavy cream and whisk until the caramel is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool.

Using a large pastry tip or a paring knife, cut a small round piece out of the top of each cupcake. Pour in around 1-2 teaspoons of caramel. (See photos below – they’re from my Limoncello & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes, but you get the idea.)

 

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup granulated 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, sifted
  • Fleur de sel for sprinkling (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat. Boil without stirring until it turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream and vanilla, whisking until it is very smooth. Let cool for around 20 minutes, until it’s just barely warm and still pourable.

Meanwhile, beat butter and salt together until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Pour in the cooled caramel and beat on medium-high speed until light and airy (around 2 minutes). Spread or pipe onto filled cupcakes (if frosting is too runny, the caramel was too warm when added – refrigerate for around 15-20 minutes until frosting is stiffer). Sprinkle each cupcake with a small pinch of fleur de sel.

52 Comments on Salted Caramel Cupcakes

  1. Melissa Daams
    September 20, 2011 at 11:54 am (4 years ago)

    those look really good. so i thought that 52 kitchen adventures meant that you were gonna cook up something different every week for the rest of the year… aren’t there like 52 weeks in the year? i think so. Anyway, i’ve been following your blog for a while, but you probably don’t see that b/c i do it in my google reader… great way to follow blogs btw. i think i first starting following your blog b/c i was looking for different ways to use my slow cooker. anywho, tootles.
    Melissa Daams recently posted Root Beer Cinnamon Rolls… take 2, er 3.

    Reply
  2. Deneen
    September 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm (4 years ago)

    I came across your blog because AOL news page showed a S’mores recipe. When I clicked for the recipe, other recipes came up and one of those were for your cupcake S’mores. I guess I thought it was a baking blog. Whatever you want to call it, I am loving your recipes.

    Reply
  3. Ann
    September 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm (4 years ago)

    I’ve been following for a while, too (via email). I enjoyed your slow-cooker Mondays and the idea of trying a new variation of the same theme every week.

    However, it’s great that it freed up the rest of the days to make what you wanted. I noticed that a lot of blogs do mostly baking and desserts (I suspect they “sell”).

    Since it’s your blog, I guess my question is, “What do YOU want out of it?”
    Ann recently posted Pot Roast!

    Reply
  4. Kelly
    September 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm (4 years ago)

    Yummy! These cupcakes look fantastic!!! :)

    Reply
  5. Kim Bee
    September 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm (4 years ago)

    I like that your blog is diverse. Those are the ones I find myself drawn to. I think sometimes it’s just more fun to take pics of desserts. These cupcakes are fantastic. Super yummy!
    Kim Bee recently posted Smoked Meat Sandwich and Memories of Childhood

    Reply
  6. RavieNomNoms
    September 28, 2011 at 6:11 am (4 years ago)

    Oh my goodness! Those would be so dangerous around me. I love salted caramel…soooo good!

    Reply
  7. kita
    September 28, 2011 at 6:34 am (4 years ago)

    These cupcakes sound outstanding. I wish I was your coworker right now.

    I am not sure that I associate this blog with any one type of cooking – the title implies to me, 52 (weeks) different adventures in your kitchen. Something new and creative. I have enjoyed your condiment posts, cupcakes and others.
    kita recently posted Rosemary Ribeye Steaks with Grilled Bread Salad

    Reply
  8. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
    September 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm (4 years ago)

    The cupcakes sound delicious! So pretty too!

    I don’t really associate your blog with anything in particular. I struggle a little with the identity as well. I try to just post stuff that I cook for my family – lots of baking but other stuff as well. Maybe I am biased, but I don’t think you need a theme per say.
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts recently posted Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

    Reply
  9. Susan @ Seafield Farm
    September 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm (4 years ago)

    That frosting looks unbelievably delectable. Light and fluffy and gorgeously piped. I wish I had one right now!

    Reply
  10. Linda
    October 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm (4 years ago)

    I made these to add to our Thanksgiving dinner. Very rich and tasty. I had half the caramel left over from filling the cupcakes so I used that in the icing, and omitted making a second caramel. MMMMMM.

    Reply
  11. nicole
    October 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm (4 years ago)

    I just finished making these, and although they took forever and a day to make, they are to die for!!! Really the best cupcake I’ve ever tasted!

    Reply
  12. Faith
    November 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm (4 years ago)

    I want one of those CUPCAKES!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe! :)

    Reply
  13. Heather P.
    November 21, 2011 at 8:29 am (4 years ago)

    OMG amazing cupcakes! I made them for our “cupcake wars” at work and didn’t get a chance to taste them first (they just sounded good so I went with them and two others). I ended up winning and everyone told me how good they were. Got home and finally tasted one and WOW – these are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Maureen
    December 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi! These look great, planning to make then this weekend for my dad’s badly/marine brothers surprise homecoming. This may be a dumb question but at the end of the cupcake section it says to fill prepped muffin tin 3/4, bake for 25, and the fill liners 1/2 & bake for 25. Are you referring to next batch, or am I missing something? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      December 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm (4 years ago)

      @Maureen – thanks for catching my typo! :) I fixed it – you should fill 3/4 full and bake for 25 mins. Enjoy!

  15. Cristina Frezzo
    December 20, 2011 at 8:39 am (4 years ago)

    These were fantastic! I took them to a Thanksgiving potluck and didn’t even get a chance to try one, they were gone in a flash! I found that I actually like the cake and the buttercream best, and could probably do without, but one friend said the caramel filling was the best part. Sea salt makes a suitable substitution if you can’t find fleur de sel. I went to culinary school and found these instructions easy to follow, both as a professional and a home baker. Great job and recipe! I’ll be making these again!

    Reply
  16. Liz
    January 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm (4 years ago)

    You made my day! I stumbled upon your post, which ironically linked to a recipe that I had been eyeing for months and never tried! These cupcakes are heaven on earth. I hate eggs, so I actually used a vegan egg replacer from a company called EnerG, in place of the eggs and I added a tad bit more buttermilk to the batter. All in all, they were delish! I’m so proud. I got a KitchenAid mixer for a Christmas/belated wedding gift. Thank god, because there is a lot of mixing here! Lots of dishes to clean up too! But totally worth it. Those cupcakes were perfect. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      January 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm (4 years ago)

      @Liz – so glad you enjoyed the cupcakes! They are a lot of work but so worth it. This is one of my favorite recipes!

  17. Andrea
    January 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm (4 years ago)

    Yummy! Could you tell me where you got those adorable liners? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      January 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm (4 years ago)

      @Andrea – the liners are foil wrappers from Walmart. I found them in the aisle with saran wrap and aluminum foil. I believe they were Reynolds Wrap brand.

  18. Betty
    January 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm (3 years ago)

    I made these for New Year’s Eve and they were great! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the caramel and frosting! Next time I’m going to pair it with chocolate cupcakes and/or vanilla.

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      January 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm (3 years ago)

      @Betty – I’m so glad you enjoyed them! The caramel and frosting are the best part for me too. They will be great with other flavors of cake!

  19. Christina
    February 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm (3 years ago)

    I tried these cupcakes last week and the frosting was AWESOME!!! I do have to say that the cake tasted a little like a pancake rather than a cupcake, so I was a little disappointed, but they looked good

    Reply
  20. Liz
    March 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm (3 years ago)

    I just made these & they are delicious! One question though…is the caramel supposed to be hard in the cupcake? Mine was quite hard until you softened it in your mouth. Did I do something wrong? This was my first cupcake attempt so I definitely could have made an error!
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      March 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm (3 years ago)

      @Liz – so glad you enjoyed the cupcakes! This is one of the more challenging cupcake recipes I’ve tried, so I’m really impressed that this is the first cupcake you’ve ever made! It sounds like you may have overcooked the caramel, which is why it got hard. It should still be soft at room temperature in the cupcakes.

      I’ve been meaning to make either a video or step-by-step photo tutorial about making caramel sauce, and I need to revisit this recipe and make it again so I can add more details to the directions. I will do this soon and edit it.

  21. Sue
    March 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Liz: I made the Salted Carmel Cupcakes today. It is the first time I have made any cake from scratch. They were so delicious. I had some of the carmel filling left over after making a double batch so I added it to the frosting mixture along with the carmelized sauce for the frosting. It turned out so good. I found that I could substitute Fleur de sel with popcorn salt. It worked great!

    Reply
  22. Jen
    April 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi – The filling and the frosting are the best ever. We’ve made these several times but with Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocoloate” Chocolate cupcake recipe found on the back of a Hershey’s Cocoa container. They are amazing together. Highly recommend the combination!

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      April 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm (3 years ago)

      @Jen – that sounds SO good! I love this frosting & filling and I’ve been meaning to make them again. I will definitely try them with a chocolate cupcake. Thanks for the tip!

  23. rebekah
    July 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm (3 years ago)

    can I make the cupcakes ahead and freeze them for use at a later date?

    Reply
  24. em
    July 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm (3 years ago)

    i loved these cupcakes and am about to make them again. thanks so much for sharing the recipe! will they be ok if i make them today, but don’t serve them until tomorrow? should they be put in the fridge?

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      July 27, 2012 at 10:28 pm (3 years ago)

      @em – I’d store them in the fridge just to be safe. Enjoy!

  25. Nikki
    July 29, 2012 at 5:12 am (3 years ago)

    The cupcakes & frosting were AMAZING & I had rave reviews on the flavor – thank you SO much!!!
    I didn’t have much luck making the caramel filling though, I don’t know what I did wrong but after ruining 4 batches I simply made them without. Each time when I added the butter to the darkened sugar it would crystallize within seconds, so I ended up with a strange mixture that I couldn’t add to the cupcakes. Where did I go wrong?
    I am just chomping at the bit to make them again with the caramel sauce middle!! I think I may try making them mini-cupcakes next time also so they go further! You are amazing, thank you so much for your recipe!!

    Reply
  26. Elizabeth McCrea
    September 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve made these several times and they are amazing. Tonight I’m doing something a little different and making minis instead. Has anyone made mini-cupcakes with this recipe, and if so how many did it make? I need 3 dozen and I’m not sure if I need to do 1.5 times the recipe to get enough batter for that many minis.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  27. Barbara Smith
    September 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m making these tomorrow for the first time. But cheating by buying Green’s Pink Cupcakes packet mix for the cupcake itself. They always turn out divine and so much easier. I actually did make the salted caramel macarons recipe 2 weeks ago and they were amazing. Being my fav sweet to buy I thought I would give them a crack. Did a lot of study first and it paid off. Everyone said they were better than the bought ones! Going to use the recipe for caramel for the macarons for the cupcakes, since it was so good. I use unsalted butter but did add a 5g sea salt. I hunted around for Fleur de sel and couldn’t find it but a nice man at the market gave me some Molden’s sea salt for free, a little container, to save buying a big box. It’s a high quality sea salt. Was lucky!
    Barbara Smith recently posted Fall Spiced Popcorn

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      September 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm (3 years ago)

      @Barbara – I’ve never heard of that cupcake mix. Hope it goes great with the salted caramel. Maldon sea salt is very high quality. It has larger flakes than fleur de sel and is an excellent finishing salt. Enjoy! :)

  28. Barbara Smith
    September 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm (3 years ago)

    My below post was meant for salted caramel cupcakes, not fall spiced popcorn. :)
    *waves to Stephanie*.. I love your passion and energy for cooking. Sorry, cheffing I mean. lol. I’m going to start running cooking classes in 2013 myself!

    Reply
  29. Andrea
    October 8, 2012 at 9:52 am (3 years ago)

    I made these for my sister’s Birthday and they were absolutely amazing. My favorite cupcakes to date! Thank you for the awesome recipe!

    Reply
  30. wiz
    December 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm (3 years ago)

    love everything about your blog! thanks for sharing funtastic ideas.

    Reply
  31. Jen O.
    April 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm (2 years ago)

    I have a question (and hope that you see this to respond soon!). I would like to try to make and serve these at a bridal shower next weekend, but would like to do at least some of the work ahead of time. Do you think I could make the cupcakes and freeze them for a few days? Can I do anything ahead of time, or do I pretty much need to do it all the day before? I’ve never made caramel before, and hope that I won’t screw it up! :)

    Reply
  32. Valerie
    March 14, 2014 at 8:43 am (1 year ago)

    Made these with Cup4Cup to make them Gluten Free. People said they were amazing and were absolutely shocked to find out they were GF. I also doubled the caramel for the filling and used that in the frosting instead and that worked out great too!

    Reply
    • Stephanie Saunders
      March 14, 2014 at 8:59 am (1 year ago)

      Valerie, that’s great! I’ve never tried Cup4Cup but I would like to. Good to know it works well in this recipe!

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