Salted caramel cupcakes

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While I find caramel alone to simply be a little too intensely sweet for my liking, salted caramel ticks all the boxes. When made correctly, salted caramel treats are a perfect balance of sweet and salty negating the need to pick one or the other – perfect for people like me who love a bit of both!

Awhile ago I made chocolate and salted caramel sandwich biscuits, which went down an absolute treat both at home and with my lovely readers. So this week I decided to crank the salted caramel up a notch and make an absolutely decadent salted caramel cupcake, with the flavour incorporated in three ways – the cake, the filling and the icing.

Beginning with a fluffy and flavoursome brown sugar cupcake, I cored each one and filled them with about two teaspoons of homemade caramel sauce. Once the tops were safely tucked back on I topped each cupcake with a swirl of the most delicious salted caramel buttercream and finished them with a light sprinkling of light brown sugar, a little rock salt and a sugar pearl or two.

While these cupcakes have a few steps to them, they’re actually really simple to make. Caramel is wonderfully easy to make yourself in a saucepan and takes hardly any time to prepare. But as caramel is ultimately just cooked sugar, the trick to this recipe is using the right sugars – you want to use unrefined varieties to help bring out the beautiful caramel flavour.

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I based these cupcakes on a moist brown sugar cupcake recipe that uses two varieties of unrefined sugar to give the cake beautiful texture, colour and flavour – dark muscovado and golden sugar. The combination of both dark and light sugar in the cupcakes gives them a beautiful flavour that makes a perfectly balanced base for these rich cupcakes.

Once cooled, I prepared a homemade caramel sauce to fill each cupcake. As I wanted them to be really rich and flavoursome, I cored each cupcake rather than squeezing the sauce in with a decorating tip – that way I knew exactly how much filling each cupcake had and could balance the buttercream accordingly. The caramel sauce is super quick and easy to make – it’s all done and ready to go in the cupcakes within 20 minutes including cooling time!

But the salted caramel buttercream is definitely my favourite part of this recipe – as embarrassing as it is, I must confess I took to eating the leftover icing straight from the piping bag. It’s just that good. Based on a creamier salted caramel sauce than was used as the filling, the buttercream is beautifully salted and perfectly balanced – it’s what makes these cupcakes so magic if you ask me!

Combined, each of these elements created one of the most delicious cupcakes I’ve had in awhile – rich and balanced, moist and flavoursome, these cupcakes should definitely make it onto your “to bake” list!

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Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction and Sprinklebakes

Makes approx. 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 ¼ cups plain flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup dark muscovado sugar, packed
  • ½ cup golden granulated sugar
  • 113g butter,softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup whole milk

Salted Caramel Filling

  • ½ cup golden granulated sugar
  • 42g butter, softened
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp cream, room temperature

Salted Caramel Buttercrem

  • ¼ cup golden granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 225g butter, softened
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar

Method

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line cupcake pans with cases
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.
  5. Gradually mix in dry ingredients, mixing well between each addition.
  6. Slowly add milk and mix until just combined.
  7. Fill each cupcake case ¾ full of mixture. Place in oven and bake for 20 -22 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  8. Allow to cool completely before filling or decorating

Salted Caramel Filling

  1. Melt sugar over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Whisk as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber colour
  2. Add butter and stir until melted
  3. Pour in cream and whisk until mixture becomes a smooth sauce

Note: If lumps appear, keep stirring over low heat

  1. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
  2. Core each cupcake and fill with 2 teaspoons of salted caramel filling. Replace tops on cupcakes.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

  1. In a saucepan, stir together sugar and water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook without stirring until it becomes a deep amber colour.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly add cream and vanilla, whisking until smooth
  3. Allow to cool for approx. 20 minutes until barely warm and just pourable
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and salt until fluffy. Gradually add icing sugar and mix until well combined.
  5. Slowly pour in cooled caramel sauce and mix until light and airy
  6. Fill a large decorating bag with buttercream and decorate each cupcake with a swirl of icing

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  • http://huntingfortheverybest.wordpress.com/ Dina

    they look delish!

    • KirstenM

      Thanks Dina!

  • Jess

    Ive just made a batch of these (at 11.30pm on a Saturday night) :) What is the golden granulated sugar you use in your buttercream?

    • KirstenM

      Woohoo, I hope you like them! Golden granulated sugar is a less refined white sugar that has a slightly caramelly taste – perfect for these cupcakes! I use the one from Billington’s Sugar – you can read up on it here: http://www.billingtons.co.nz/our-products.html

  • Karli

    I just made these, took about 4 hours!! Glad that they are worth it, but next time I might not add the salt… A little disappointed that the filling didnt turn out well, the butter separated from the caramel. Overall, very nice!

    • Kirsten

      Hi Karli, sorry to hear the filling didn’t quite work for you – hopefully you have better luck next time! Glad you enjoyed them though :)