Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

You didn’t think that I’d tease you with salted caramel sauce yesterday and not provide you with something deliciously evil to do with it, did you? As I mentioned when we talked about the sauce, I’ve had a lot of fun with salted caramel baked goods over the last year, and I have loved each and every one of them. Yet, there was something missing. One crucial recipe that I had yet to perfect. Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting. After seeing (and trying) tons of salted caramel cupcakes at various cupcake shops, I kept meaning to make my own. How something like that gets pushed to the back burner, I’ll never know. You all have Michelle C. to thank for getting salted caramel cupcakes back to the front and center of my mind, where it absolutely needed to be. Michelle shared a photo of her brand new KitchenAid mixer that she received as a Mother’s Day gift on the BEB Facebook page. When I asked her the first thing she made, she said she was waiting to break it in with a salted caramel cupcake recipe, and was waiting to see one from me. I can’t have me be the only thing standing in the way of a woman and KitchenAid bliss, so I made it my business to catapult salted caramel cupcakes to the top of my “to do” list. Well, Michelle, I hope you love these cupcakes as much as I did, and that they make your inaugural KitchenAid baking experience fun and delicious!

When it comes to salted caramel cupcakes, there is certainly no shortage of variations. Salted caramel cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. Brown sugar cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. Vanilla cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. As you can tell, there was definitely one constant – salted caramel frosting. That was perfect, since I already knew, without a doubt, that my cupcakes would be adorned with salted caramel buttercream frosting. Now, what type of base to use?

I thought long and hard about it, and at first was leaning towards an all-salted caramel cupcake, but then stepped back from the ledge. I thought it might be a little overkill. Salted caramel is awesome, but I think the essence of it really shines when it’s used in combination with a contrasting flavor and texture. That’s what makes it such an amazing pairing with brownies, ice cream, and hot chocolate. At the end of the day, I couldn’t ignore my infatuation with all things salted caramel and chocolate. A chocolate cupcake it was!

While there isn’t any salted caramel used directly in the cupcake itself, there is one part of the process that creates a caramel-like flavor, which adds to the recipe as a whole. Instead of beating together the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl as most recipes would call for, the butter and sugar are cooked slowly in a saucepan until the butter is completely melted. The result is a little bit of a mix between a nutty, caramel flavor and smell, and that of browned butter. I wish I could have supplied you with a scratch and sniff here! That one little step adds volumes in terms of flavor and how well the chocolate cupcake complements the salted buttercream frosting.

So, there you have it. An incredibly moist, amazing chocolate cupcake with just a hint of caramel undertones, topped with a salted caramel cream cheese buttercream frosting. Drizzle a little extra salted caramel sauce on top and finish off with a pinch of flaky sea salt, and you have one seriously phenomenal cupcake.

One year ago: Peanut Butter Brownies
Two years ago: Guacamole

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Yield: 22 to 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


For the Cupcakes:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 & 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream

For the Salted Caramel Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup salted caramel sauce
4 cups powdered sugar

To Garnish:
Salted Caramel Sauce
Fleur de Sel (or other flaky sea salt)


1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard-size muffin pans with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth, and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture, beating until smooth.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix each addition until just incorporated.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it's not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

8. To finish, pipe frosting onto the top of each cupcake (or use an offset spatula to spread the frosting), drizzle with some additional salted caramel sauce, and sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel. (Note: I used an Ateco #864 decorating tip to frost these cupcakes.)

(Cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes; Frosting recipe adapted from Baked Bree)


201 Responses to “Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 23, 2012 at 1:32 am

    caramel sauce, chocolate cupcakes, lots of frosting..count me in!


  2. Jolene @ Yummy Inspirations on May 23, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Wow! These look too good to eat! They are like caramel works of art… though maybe a tiny sample would be in order!


  3. Lissa (Bellenza) on May 23, 2012 at 2:30 am

    These look absolutely scrumptious!


  4. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on May 23, 2012 at 2:56 am

    I just love how cupcakes look with drizzled goodies on them and this caramel sauce is so perfect. wow, does this ever look good. I would eat the frosting off the top first thing.


  5. Kristen on May 23, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Oh my goodness! I wish I had one of these to eat right now


  6. Kathryn on May 23, 2012 at 4:42 am

    These are probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever seen.


  7. Tanya Schroeder on May 23, 2012 at 6:18 am

    These are beautiful pictures! I’ve made salted caramel cupcakes only once, but after seeing these, I may have to try again!


  8. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on May 23, 2012 at 7:08 am

    You put the salted caramel in good use! Beautiful!


  9. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on May 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    This is a perfect way to use the caramel sauce! My mouth is watering, they look so good :)


  10. Jennifer on May 23, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Can’t wait to test out this recipe, and soon!


  11. Katrina on May 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Sweet goodness, YES!


  12. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on May 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Salted caramel + chocolate rivals chocolate + peanut butter in my book. These look fantastic!


  13. Paula on May 23, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Very envious that these are in your kitchen and not mine!


  14. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

    OMG these are the perfect cupcakes for memorial day!!! :)


  15. Maria on May 23, 2012 at 9:27 am

    You need to stop with all of this salted caramel business! I am dying over here:)


  16. Lauren on May 23, 2012 at 9:41 am



  17. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on May 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I wish you could give us a scratch & sniff too!! Looks divine :)


  18. Kristy on May 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

    These look delicious! Definitely a recipe to try out. :)


  19. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on May 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

    These are perfect! My mouth is watering!!


  20. Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) on May 23, 2012 at 10:50 am

    This is the most enticing cupcake recipe I’ve seen in a very, very long time and it’s partly due to my love of salted caramel. I never even considered using it in frosting. I agree that it would be wonderful with a variety of cupcake flavors but who am I kidding? I’d eat this frosting on its own!


  21. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on May 23, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I desperately want to eat one of these right now! They look yummy


  22. Stephanie on May 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Oh wow, these look amazing…


  23. Beth Cook on May 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Really?? You couldn’t have made this back in October or November when bathing suit season is far off?

    thanks… 😉


    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Haha! The taste buds know no such thing as bathing suit season 😉


  24. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on May 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    These look like cupcake heaven!


  25. Char James-Tanny on May 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Oh my goodness…this looks so good!

    Think the frosting would work with red velvet cake? (After all, it is still a cream cheese frosting…)


  26. Lynna on May 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    yay~ been looking for a good salted caramel cupcake for awhile since I had sprinkle`s one. even though this cupcake is not caramel cake, from reading your post, i feel like it`ll be close enough to satisfy my craving! :)


  27. Dina on May 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    these look delish!


  28. Suzi on May 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    These look fantastic and I really want to make that salted caramel sauce. Beautiful!


  29. Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} on May 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Heavenly chocolate salted caramel cupcakes, Michelle. I was so excited to see your recipe for the sauce yesterday that I’ve already planned on making salted caramel cupcakes with PB frosting drizzled with this sauce. I’m also intending on coring the cupcakes and having salted caramel inside. Yum!


  30. Tracy {Pale Yellow} on May 23, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Beautiful! What a great use for all that wonderful salted caramel!


  31. Connie the Cookie Monster on May 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    i love anything and everything salted caramel!!


  32. devoted4life on May 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    oh my goodness!!! those look amazing!


  33. Michelle C. on May 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! I can’t wait to make these!!! I’ll post pics the second they’re frosted :-)


  34. Mei-i @ gastronomic nomad on May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    You are a girl after my own heart. I am loving the flood of recipes lately with salt, chocolate and caramel. YUMMMMM. I made a note for myself to pick up the Ateco #864 decorating tip since I made delicious cupcakes over the weekend, but frosting decorating turned out horrendous. I needed a larger tip for sure! Thanks!! You’ve been buzzed.


  35. Vicki @ WITK on May 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    The amount of salted caramel in and on these should be illegal! :)


  36. Evan Thomas on May 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    These are mouth-watering!


  37. Christine on May 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    they look & sound delish! Can’t wait to get back home for baking. Happy weekend!


  38. Debra Kapellakis on May 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm



  39. RisaG on May 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Some of the prettiest cupcakes ever! I love the combination of sweet and salty and especially salted caramel. I am not big on cupcakes but I want to try these. They look so good. What a way to break in the Kitchenaid Mixer!


  40. natasha@perfectpantry on May 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Wow these look beautiful..hmm makes 24 to share or not to share..these would go down with no trouble. Salted caramel frosting is next on my reciepe to do list!


  41. Lester @ CupcakeIdeasForYou on May 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Great idea! Sweet caramel with a touch of salty flavor. It can neutralize too much sweetness on this cupcake.


  42. Yolanda on May 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Made these last night. They are fabulous! I could drown in the frosting. (swoon)Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  43. Beth V. on May 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Hey Michelle!

    I’m making a fondant cake, and want to use this frosting. But I think that the cream cheese component will not be good since the cake will need to be unrefrigerated. Do you think I can make the frosting the same way, but without the cream cheese?


    • Michelle on May 30th, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Hi Beth, You definitely can! Just replace the cream cheese in the recipe with an equal amount of butter.


      • Beth V. on May 31st, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        So instead of 2 sticks of butter, use 4?


  44. Rachel on June 3, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I just made these cupcakes. The salted caramel was easy to make – success on the first try without a thermometer. The cake recipe was easy to follow and rose beautifully, and the icing was amazing! My partner who does not like cake, really liked them!


  45. kubaa434 on June 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I want to taste it!


  46. Tina on June 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I made these for a party and they were a huge hit! The caramel sauce is divine! Thanks for sharing!!!


  47. callum on June 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    does not make 22 to 24 cakes.


  48. Amy on June 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Michelle! I’d love to turn these cupcakes into my birthday cake? Any tips Re baking time, etc. for using this recipe for a standard round layer cake? Thanks!


    • Michelle on June 8th, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Hi Amy, You’ll need to increase the baking time; I would start checking around 30 minutes or so just to be sure you don’t overbake. I would probably lean toward 8″ cake pans, but if all you have is 9″ that will work too.


  49. betty on June 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I made the salted caramel chocolate cupcakes and i have to say the sauce and frosting were amazing. My cupcakes texture were a tad bit dry, i made exactly as outlined on your recipe. I’m wondering if the butter/sugar mixture temp had anything to do with it. In your recipe it says to let cook 4-5 mins, but the mixture was not cooled completely – should it be? I proceeded as recipe outlined. The flavor of the cupcakes, though, was outstanding, I used Penzey’s high fat dutch process cocoa and it was incredible depth of flavor.


    • betty on June 10th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      *cool (not cook) 4-5 minutes (typo)


    • Michelle on June 10th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Betty, Yes, you should let it go until it is completely cool. Depending on how hot your mixture got (this will vary from stove to stove), it could take less time or more time. I’m glad that you did enjoy the flavor of the cupcakes!


      • betty on June 12th, 2012 at 1:00 am

        Thank you michelle, I’m going to make these again next week so I’ve taken note!


  50. Cupcake Betty on June 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    oh my look at all that cupcake caramel drizzle, its baking time and time to put on some calories!


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