These Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes have a tender caramel cake topped with a silky smooth chocolate buttercream! Fill them with more caramel sauce for a decadent treat!
Most chocolate caramel cupcakes are simply vanilla cupcakes filled with caramel sauce. This seemed like a gross injustice to me, so I set to making a cake that was flavored with actual salted caramel sauce. This cake is tender, moist and tastes just like salted caramel.
The cake is light and fluffy and the buttercream is just the right amount of sweet; however, you could top this with my Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream and fill it with more salted caramel sauce for a Triple Salted Chocolate Caramel Cupcake.
I used my favorite Salted Caramel Sauce recipe, but you could also use this one or any thick store-bought caramel sauce.
Which method of making salted caramel should I use for my Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes?
First, just know that either method will give you the exact same result. It is about whichever you find easiest and most consistent for you in your kitchen. The choice is yours.
Now the difference between the two methods as you make your chocolate caramel cupcake decisions:
Dry Caramel Sauce:
A dry caramel is when you caramelize the sugar without adding any water or corn syrup.
- Your sugar syrup isn’t going to crystalize spontaneously from undissolved sugar crystals falling from the sides.
- You can stir with a wooden spoon! [Please don’t put your plastic tools in there…they’ll melt and no one wants plastic in their caramel sauce.]
- You can make a dry caramel sauce with the most basic ingredients: sugar, butter, cream. Done.
- This is the fastest method for making a caramel. So if you need you chocolate caramel cupcakes fast, this is for you.
- Dry caramel is more likely to get unincorporated sugar clumps because of the uneven heating. Swirl, and break up those clumps with the aforementioned wooden spoon!
- You cannot walk away from a dry caramel. Just don’t. You’ll get burned pockets before you even get going. Remain vigilant. Do not break that caramel focus, not even for your chocolate caramel cupcake sampling.
- Dry caramel is more difficult on an induction burner than a gas burner. Just a sad fact of life.
Wet Caramel Sauce:
A wet caramel is when the sugar is hydrated with water before caramelizing. I have added corn syrup as an insurance policy against crystallization but it is not necessary to make a wet caramel. The amount of water isn’t important but do know that the more water you add, the longer the caramel will take because the water needs to evaporate before the sugar can caramelize. Not a big deal. Just something to know.
- You don’t need to sit and stare at the wet caramel cooking. You have a little time to wander before the real action happens. I mean certainly don’t paint your nails – it’s not that much time! Work on your chocolate caramel cupcakes instead. 😉
- The wet caramel method won’t give you those large chunks of unincorporated sugar because you hydrated it and separated the crystals.
- Wet caramel is more induction burner friendly! I occasionally make giant batches of this wet caramel on an induction burner at work and it’s just peachy.
- If you aren’t thorough about washing the crystals off the sides of the pot at the beginning, then you have a chance of getting little crystals in your caramel. [I prefer to add my water so that I don’t have sugar on the side of my pot, but that’s just me.]
- There is no stirring, only swirling allowed! This isn’t really a con, just significantly a fact.
Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes
Homemade Recipes to Next Level Your Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 325°F convection.
- Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- Sift together cake flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. 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 vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl after every two eggs or so.
- Add the caramel sauce.
- Switch the mixer to low and then alternately add the flour mixture and milk. 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.
- Scoop or pour into prepared muffin cups. Make sure they are no more than ¾ full or they will overflow.
- 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 easy chocolate buttercream.