Friday, March 16, 2012

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Apparently cupcake challenges were the big thing in 2009 and people were making a lot of Martha Stewart recipes from her fabulous book "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes".  I missed the boat on that one but I'm definitely in a cupcake mood this year!  I have never been a big fan of the cupcake but now that I see all of the wonderful things you can do with them, I am hooked!  They are so much fun to fill and glaze and add different ingredients to....gone are the days of box cakes and tubs of frosting!  

When I was asked to make a special dessert for a birthday I thought to myself "what would Martha bake?"  I'm pretty sure she would be pleased with my selection.  I chose to make her Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes which sound more intimidating than they really are.  The cupcakes themselves were very simple. I actually made them the day before I needed them and they stayed super moist.

I'm not going to lie to you.....the caramel filling was a bit challenging.  On the first batch (yes, it took me two tries) I waited and waited for the candy thermometer to rise to 360 and when it was at 325 I turned away from the stove to take pictures of the cupcakes.  BIG mistake!  Burned the first batch.  The second batch I cooked over medium-high, as opposed to Martha's suggested high heat, and I never turned away for a second.  The caramel turned out perfect!  My advice to you is to just be patient and stay near by and focused on the caramel and it will be fine!

I used a cool little gadget meant for hollowing a cupcake but you could use a small paring knife to cut away a little of the center for the filling.  I actually poured my filling in but you can spoon it in if that is easier for you.

Second warning.....there is about 50000000 pounds of butter in this frosting!  OK, that's an exaggeration. But it is pretty close.  There is a lot of butter and a lot of chocolate and totally worth every extra calorie!  The frosting may be the best part of this dessert.  It was rich and chocolaty and, as you can see from the photo, so glossy and beautiful!  The cupcakes were meant to be sprinkled with fleur de sel but I decorated mine with dark chocolate decorations as they were for a birthday party and I wanted them to be festive.  Please do use the fleur de sel though, the salt goes perfectly with the sweetness of the caramel!

Martha Stewart's Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.

Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.

To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do NOT refrigerate. Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Filling:
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove rom heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Dark Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

Recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes


  1. One word: tempting! I love how gourmet your cupcakes look!

  2. *drools*

    Salted Caramel was created just to push my poor heart over the edge.

    Excited for tomorrow! :)

    1. I am sooooo excited too! Thanks again!! btw-hope you've been thinking about what you want to post on my blog! Let me know when you wanna do it! ;)

  3. Oh my god. I know I am going janice on you but I can't help it. These are pure genius :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. NO WAY!!! Could there possibly be another "Friends" freak like me out there??? I hope you made your voice nice and squeeky when you quoted Janice! I am a "Friends" fanatic and own every season, the cookbook, a friends purse, masks of all the characters, etc. WOW....that did not make me sound good.

      I'll just finish with a big Thanks to you for your compliment...hope you try the cupcakes soon!!


  4. Those look delicious...I love salted caramel!!

    1. Thanks Becky....I am a new addict to salted caramel! Loving it!!

  5. Oh my gosh!!! You can never go wrong with chocolate, caramel and sea salt!!

  6. They look fabulous!

    And do NOT feel bad about having to make two attempts on the caramel filling. I tried to make Brown Eyed Baker's Salted Caramel Brownies...let's just say I've been terrified of salted caramel recipes ever since.

    Though, how can I say no to these?? :D Kudos on the frosting too I love how you piped it so elegantly. Elegant and delicious, what more can you ask from a cupcake?

    1. Thanks Jess!! I hope you do try them....let me know if you find an easier caramel that will work with this recipe! I've thought of cheating and melting caramel squares with cream....still might try it!!

  7. Oh I bet the butter is totally worth in the frosting! These cupcakes look amazing =)

    1. Thanks! It is worth it! I just can't make them too often because they are so tempting!

  8. I'm absolutely, totally drooling over here! This sounds and looks amazing! I love the caramel filling and salted desserts always win me over! They look absolutely fantastic! Great job frosting too!

    1. Thanks Lacy! I am a huge caramel fan myself!

  9. Looks great. No one would refuse chocolate cupcakes with caramel!

    1. I agree Anita! The proof was in how quickly they all disappeared from the kitchen!

  10. Ooooh. Ooooh. I looove salted caramel. These look to die for!

    1. Thanks Kiri! I have always loved caramel but am fairly new to salted caramel and it is a new addiction!

  11. I'm drooling over the gooey caramel center. These look absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  12. A pinch of salt does wonder for chocolate. These are simply amazing looking - I love all of the textural components from smooth to crumbly. Brava!