These Caramel Cupcakes are a soft yellow cake filled with salted caramel and then topped with a swirl of Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The combination of the rich yellow cake and salted caramel is divine!
Are cupcakes passé? I was struck by a sad thought that they aren’t as popular as they once were. Perhaps we can blame Cupcake Wars for the crazy and then decline, but I hope there is still a love out there for an absolutely decadent, over-the-top caramel cupcake!
How'd I create these caramel cupcakes? I made my classic yellow cake and then stuffed it with salted caramel then topped it with my Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream but you could use any thick caramel sauce of choice or another caramel frosting like the easy one from this post. The thoughts on happiness aren’t bad either
What makes these Caramel Cupcakes special?
I have tried the classic yellow cake recipes in over a dozen cookbooks and tested and retested adaptations to try and recreate the perfect yellow cake, maybe secretly so I could make the perfect caramel cupcakes. Disappointment. They were always too dry, too spongy, too bland or just fine. I wanted the texture of box mix with that rich buttery flavor of homemade. Needless to say, EUREKA!
I was looking for richness in all the wrong places. The secret ingredient for that perfect texture for the "yellow cake" part of caramel cupcake is in the cornstarch! The hint of almond extract adds the “cake batter” flavor. I still have a mix of whole eggs and egg yolks for richness. BUT this does not have the added moisture and leavening of the whites. With this cupcake, it is more about the extra sugar.
The cake recipe for these caramel cupcakes is what we professionals call a “High Ratio Cake.” That is just fancy chef-speak for a high ratio of sugar to flour by weight. You’ll notice in the weighted measurements that there is more sugar than flour by more than a third! I found the creaming method still worked best here and resulted in a light, tender, yet rich crumb.
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 ¾ cups Cake Flour
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 ¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup Butter
- 1 ¼ cups Sugar
- 1 ½ Eggs
- 2 Egg Yolks
- ⅛ teaspoon Almond extract
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
- ½ cup Sour Cream
- ¼ cup Milk
Homemade Recipes to Include:
- Preheat oven to 325°F convection.
- Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- Sift together cake flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together milk and sour cream. Set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl after every two eggs or so. Add the extracts with the last bit of eggs.
- Switch the mixer to low and then alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream. I don’t wait until all the flour has incorporated until I add the next batch. I just keep adding with two hands. Pro-style. I do stop the mixer to add the last of the sour cream because I like to scrape it all out with a rubber spatula.
- Scoop or pour into prepared muffin cups.
- Bake in preheated oven until a cake tester comes out with a few clinging crumbs. This will take about 10-12 minutes depending on your oven
- Cool about 5 minutes in the tins then turn them out onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.
- Transfer some of the salted caramel to a piping bag and inject some of the caramel into the center. You can also cut out a small piece and the fill it completely but that always seems unnecessary to me these days.
- Frost with your favorite buttercream! I used my caramel Swiss meringue buttercream.