I dedicated an afternoon last weekend to working on these little cupcakes. It was a labor of love one might say. I like recipes that have several steps that you need to coordinate in order for the finished product to come together. These cupcakes definitely fit the bill. Be sure you set aside a few hours if you want to make these little morsels!
This recipe was my first attempt at making caramel. In fact, to make this recipe you actually end up making caramel three times. Considering that one of my batches didn’t work out and I had to try again a fourth time—I consider myself somewhat of a caramel expert. During this process I gained a new appreciation for quality cookware that has an even cooking temperature. For my first attempt I used a Calphalon pot which is definitely quality cookware, but I had some trouble regulating the heat which resulted in my burnt caramel. For my second attempt, I used my All-Clad pot and there was a noticeable difference in the evenness of the temperature. It’s the first time when I’ve noticed a difference in this quality cookware. When you’re making pasta you might not notice the difference in a quality pan, but in certain circumstances, they definitely do make a difference. (Yes dad, you were right…and thank you for the All-Clad pan—it has now been used for more than pasta and rice.)
Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes Recipe
Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose 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
Salted Caramel Filling Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons salted butter cubed
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
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
Candied Salted Caramel Rounds Ingredients
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water
2-4 tablespoons of large-crystal sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Salted Caramel Filling Directions
Melt the sugar over medium high heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake and pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel. Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Directions
In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting.
Candied Salted Caramel Rounds Directions
Lay out a large piece of parchment on your work surface and spray with cooking oil (such as canola). Fill a large tub (or your sink) partially full of ice water.
Put sugar, salt and cold water in a heavy pan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring syrup to a boil. Lower heat slightly and swirl the pan once or twice as the syrup caramelizes so it will color evenly; do not stir. When the caramel is deep amber, plunge the base of the pan into ice water for about 2 seconds to stop further cooking.
Working quickly, dip a spoon in the caramel and let it fall onto the parchment paper in a drizzle. Move the spoon in a circular motion as the syrup falls from the spoon. Repeat 15 times. When caramel has hardened (it will still be sticky) sprinkle on the large-crystal sugar. Remove from paper and adorn cupcakes.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
If you’ve never made caramel before let me offer a few tips. Use the heaviest gauge metal pot you have. Inexpensive or thin cookware heats unevenly, so drag out the most solid pot you’ve got. If you burn caramel, there’s not much you can do but toss it. It’s impossible to hide the taste of something burnt—so don’t even think about it. The best thing to do is to add more water to the pan and let it simmer, which will release the caramel and make the pan easier to clean. Not that this has ever happened to me… ;)