Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream are moist, chocolatey cupcakes topped with a luscious, creamy chocolate buttercream with salted caramel sauce whipped right in.  Top it off with a salted caramel drizzle for the ultimate cupcake!

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Are you tired of sweets?  If so, I apologize for putting these cupcakes in your face.  I’ve been sweeted out since the beginning of February…no lie…but that didn’t stop me from eating Homemade Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies and Almond Dragees like they were going out of style.  Then to top it off, my niece and my sister had birthdays, and that always means cupcakes.  Of course, I offered to make them, because I had a cupcake idea up my sleeve. 🙂

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I’d made some homemade caramel sauce recently and it had been sitting in the fridge untouched and unloved.  I added some love to it…Maldon salt to be exact…because I knew I wanted a salted caramel spin on the chocolate cupcakes my sis requested.  Caramel can be really sweet for me, but when it’s salted, look out!  The salt tones down the sweetness and just enhances the caramel flavor.  There’s not a salted caramel craze for nothing. 😉

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I used a tried and true cupcake recipe for the cake, and I tinkered around with the frosting.  It was a fun experiment because I got to keep trying it as I went. 🙂  I knew right away when I got it right because I wanted to eat a big spoonful.  I refrained, because I made just enough for 12 cupcakes.  I didn’t want any extra luscious frosting lying around my house.  Remember, I have been sweeted out. 😉  I decided to drizzle more caramel sauce on top with some more Maldon salt because you can’t have too much of a good thing, and these cupcakes are definitely a good thing. 🙂

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream
 
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Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream are moist, chocolatey cupcakes topped with a luscious, creamy chocolate buttercream with salted caramel sauce whipped right in. Top it off with a salted caramel drizzle for the ultimate cupcake!
Author:
Serves: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (I used Maldon salt)
For the buttercream:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon milk
  • ½ cup salted caramel sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
Instructions
Prepare the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs on low speed one at a time, mixing until well incorporated after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the Greek yogurt, ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper as needed.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners ¾ full, and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched lightly or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cook in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.
Prepare the salted caramel sauce:
  1. Place the sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium low heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high, and boil the sugar without stirring. If the sugar begins to crystallize on the sides of the pan, carefully use a wet pastry brush to brush it off. Boil until the sugar turns a deep amber color, being careful not to burn, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream a bit at a time, as the caramel will bubble over if too much is added at once. Whisk in the butter and fleur de sel. Transfer to a dish to cool.
Prepare the buttercream:
  1. Place the butter and powdered sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until the sugar has been incorporated. Add the milk, caramel sauce and fleur de sel, and beat until combined. Add the melted chocolate, and beat until incorporated. Once incorporated, beat the buttercream at medium high speed for 3 minutes until creamy.
  2. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, and garnish with more caramel sauce and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Enjoy!
Notes
The salted caramel sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Heat before serving.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Chocolate Cupcakes.

Salted Caramel Sauce and Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream recipes by Flavor the Moments.