If you are a salted caramel lover, these salted caramel cupcakes are right up your alley. They have a soft and moist vanilla cake, salted caramel filling, salted caramel buttercream, and a salted caramel drizzle. How many times can one person say salted caramel in a sentence because I think I just broke that record.
Why you will love these salted caramel cupcakes
- The texture. The cake is super light and fluffy - it basically melts in your mouth. It is a butter and oil based cake, so it is incredibly moist and flavorful.
- The flavors. Is there anything better than salted caramel? If you are a salty sweet fan, you are going to love these. The cupcakes have the best vanilla flavor, paired with the salted caramel filling, salted caramel buttercream, and salted caramel drizzle, and you are in for a flavor explosion.
- They're easy to make. Yes, there are three components - the caramel, the cupcake, and the frosting - but the process for each is so simple and straightforward. These cupcakes look impressive but are not difficult at all!
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice for this recipe. It yields the perfect soft and tender crumb for the cupcakes.
- Leavener: baking soda is used in these cupcakes to help them rise.
- Butter: we need both salted and unsalted butter in this recipe. Salted butter for the caramel and unsalted butter for the cupcakes/frosting.
- Fats: the other key fats in this recipe are the vegetable oil, eggs, and milk. All of these ingredients add moisture so the cupcakes don't dry out.
- Sugar: granulated sugar is used to add sweetness, flavor, and moisture. It is also used in the caramel. We also use powdered sugar in the buttercream.
- Heavy cream: heavy cream is used in the caramel so make sure to splurge on the good quality stuff for the smoothest and richest caramel.
- Make the caramel. Melt the sugar completely in a large sauce pan. Add the cubed butter and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the heavy cream and whisk vigorously to combine. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour into a separate bowl and set aside to cool.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Beat the wet ingredients. Beat together the butter and oil until combined. Add the granulated sugar and beat until combined. Add the eggs and mix. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
- Combine. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined, then add half of the milk and mix until almost combined. Repeat with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the milk.
- Bake. Separate the cupcake batter evenly into the cupcake pan. Bake for 15-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Make the caramel buttercream. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream by beating the butter by itself, then adding the caramel and beating until combined. Then add the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and milk.
- Frost. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, fill them with the caramel, frost with the buttercream, drizzle more caramel on top and enjoy!
Why did my caramel crystallize?
Caramel can crystalize if you don't melt the sugar completely before adding the butter. There should not be one clump of sugar left - it should be a smooth, amber-colored liquid. Also, make sure to use good quality, super fine, granulated white sugar.
Why did my caramel burn?
Low and slow is the way to go when it comes to heating sugar. Too much heat too fast will cause the mixture to burn. You also want to use a good quality thick and clean pot - thin pots heat unevenly and therefore might have spots that get much hotter.
Also, make sure to stir the entire time you are making the caramel.
Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time?
Yes! Bake the cupcakes and, once cool, wrap them each tightly in plastic wrap. You can freeze them for up to three months. Thaw the cupcakes at room temperature.
You can also make the frosting ahead of time. Place the frosting on a piece of plastic wrap and tightly close it. Place it in a ziplock bag and into the freezer. Let it thaw in the fridge and once thawed, beat on medium speed to fluff it up.
I don't suggest making the caramel ahead of time or filling the cupcakes then freezing them. Once the cupcakes have thawed, make the caramel and fill them.
Why are my cupcakes dry?
Cupcakes can be dry from over measuring the flour. The best way to measure flour is with a kitchen scale - it is the most accurate. If you don't have a kitchen scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup, then level it off with a knife.
Why did my cupcakes sink?
Cupcakes can sink from over mixing the batter. Make sure to only mix your batter until the dry ingredients are JUST incorporated, not any longer. Second, underbaked cupcakes can sink, so make sure to bake the cupcakes all the way through.
Why are my cupcakes dense?
Dense cupcakes are likely from too much liquid. I highly suggest using a kitchen scale to measure out your ingredients - it is the most accurate and will serve better results. Using volume measurements is not ideal because my 1 cup measuring cup can be different from your 1 cup measuring cup.
How do I store the cupcakes?
Any cake-based dessert exposed to air will become dry pretty quickly, so make sure to secure it properly. Wrap each individual cupcake with plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.
Why is my frosting grainy?
Grainy frosting can be due to the butter being too cold or unsifted powdered sugar. In order to avoid grainy frosting, make sure to use room temperature butter and sift your powdered sugar if you notice it is clumpy.
Baking in grams
While I provide volume measurements for the recipes on my blog, I highly suggest baking these recipes using weight. It is the most standardized and accurate way to bake. I carefully recipe test all of my recipes using a kitchen scale, not by using cups, and therefore I cannot guarantee the success of my recipes when using volume measurements.
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Salted Caramel Cupcakes
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) salted butter room temperature, cubed
- ½ cup (120 grams) heavy cream room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups (157 grams) all purpose flour spooned and leveled
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 grams) vegetable oil
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk room temperature
- ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 tablespoons salted caramel
- 3-4 cups (360-480 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons milk/heavy cream
- Add the sugar to a medium-large sauce pan. Place the pan on the stove on low-medium heat while continuously stirring and moving the sugar around the pan. The sugar will clump up before it completely melts.
- Once the sugar completely melts, it will be a smooth amber/caramel colored liquid. It can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes to completely melt.
- Once completely melted, add the cubed butter. It will bubble up. Whisk vigorously until the butter is completely melted into the sugar and they are homogeneous. Let the mixture sit and bubble for 30 seconds to one minute without stirring.
- Slowly add in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up again. Whisk until the heavy cream is combined. Allow the mixture to boil for 30 seconds to one minute without stirring. During this time, it will rise in the pan - let it!
- Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and salt and whisk to combine. Pour it into a bowl and let it cool and thicken while you make the cupcakes.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on high speed until completely combined. This will only happen if the butter is fully at room temperature. About 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, stream in the granulated sugar then beat on medium speed until combined and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well on low speed in between each addition, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla extract and mix on low-medium speed until combined.
- With the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredients. Once almost fully incorporated, add half of the milk and mix until almost combined. Repeat this with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the milk. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the cupcake cups. The batter should be the perfect amount for 12 regular-sized cupcakes. Fill the liners until they are ½ - ¾ of the way full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 15-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream. In a medium-sized bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter by itself on medium-high speed for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Add the caramel and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until combined. Add the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract and milk/heavy cream and beat until combined. You may need to add more powdered sugar (to thicken) or milk (to thin) depending on the desired consistency. Once everything is completely mixed in, beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes.
- Once the cupcakes are completely cool, use the bottom of a piping tip (the opposite end of where the frosting would come out if you were piping) and press into the top of the cupcake and twist.
- Gently pull out the piping tip - you should have a perfect little hole where the caramel goes. Fill the hole you created with the caramel filling.
- If you do not have a piping tip, you can carefully cut a hole in the top of the cupcake with a sharp knife then follow the same instructions as above.
- Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. Drizzle more caramel on top of the buttercream and enjoy! Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!