Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

This past Thursday was National Boss’ Day.  I had never heard of this holiday until I started my current job.  But I’m not complaining, I have a great boss and I was very excited at the opportunity to bake something fun and interesting to bring in to work.

Then these beautiful chocolate cupcakes with caramel frosting and sea salt were born. IMG_3476

I was struggling to come up with something creative, and I was feeling completely uninspired by a simple chocolate-on-chocolate cupcake.  Then I had the idea to do something with caramel.  Then I did some searching to find a caramel frosting recipe that didn’t use store-bought caramels.  Finally, I came across a simple caramel recipe that could be incorporated into a light butter cream.  Perfect – so I set to work.IMG_3469

This chocolate cupcake recipe required both buttermilk and coffee.  Other than that, it was pretty standard, but I was very happy the final result was light and fluffy.

Then it was on to the caramel sauce!

First, I melted 1 cup of sugar over med-high heat.  When it started to brown, I swirled the pan and whisked the sugar to achieve an even consistency.
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Then, when it got to the right amber color, it was time for the butter and cream!

6 Tbs of butter, then lots of fizzing and whisking, then 1/2 cup of cream, and more fizzing and whisking.IMG_3483

Ah, stillness . . .IMG_3473

We had to try the caramel . . . the smell itself was overpowering . . . and it both smelled and tasted like a Werther’s candy.

Alright, so while the caramel was cooling and thickening, I melted some chocolate chips and spread the melted chocolate on top of the cupcakes.IMG_3474It added a great extra textural element, and who will complain about more chocolate?

After some serious whipping by my stand mixer, the caramel frosting was ready.  It was super simple – 1 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 cup of caramel sauce.
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Close up time . . . and the finishing touch – sprinkled sea salt.IMG_3478

Now for the most important part – tasting.IMG_3479This is a serious cupcake.  The cake itself is soft, fluffy and moist – everything you want from a cupcake.  The frosting is surprisingly soft and fluffy as well, and the best part is that, since it doesn’t use a ton of powdered sugar, it doesn’t have that super-sickly sweet taste.  The sweetness of the frosting is rich, and deep, with amazing buttery undertones.  The sea salt is the perfect complement, and it really ties the whole thing together in my opinion.

I made these again for an Oktoberfest party this weekend, but this time I reserved some of the caramel to add a swirl on top.

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Mmm mmm good….and pretty tooIMG_3499

These are serious crowd pleasers.  They were devoured when I brought them in to work.  I highly recommend making them when you want to impress others of your super baking skills 🙂

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