Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I’m having trouble accepting that summer is over and we’re merely days away from the first day of fall.  My days of tanning frantically so that people stop asking me if I’m sick are over, and I won’t have to worry about being seen in a swimsuit anymore.

…I think I’ll be able to cope with it.  I’ve been really behind on baking due to the never ending list of weekend social, athletic, and work obligations this summer.  Every weekend seemed to present itself with weddings or basketball tournaments (sometimes both), or work events.  Luckily, there was ONE weekend in August where I had time to make something – luckily it also happened to be Kelli‘s birthday potluck with Sho-Yu.  Since she loves all things salted caramel, I whipped up a batch of Salted Caramel Cupcakes.  I found the recipe on Cookies and Cups, who adapted it from The Butch Bakery Cookbook.  I actually did some adapting of my own to the recipe, after making Cookies and Cups’ version of the caramel sauce.  I thought the original recipe left the caramel sauce a bit too watery and not rich enough, so I ended up making a second version of the caramel sauce.  Below is what I’m recommending!


Caramel Sauce:
    • 10 TBSP butter
    • 2 1/4 C packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 C whole milk
    • 1 3/4 C all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 12 TBSP butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 3/4 C whole milk
Caramel Buttercream:
  • 3/4 C reserved caramel sauce
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 4 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • Sea Salt for topping


Caramel Sauce:
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the brown sugar for a bit (it won’t melt the way white sugar does), and then add the butter and milk. Bring to a boil.

    Boiling Caramel
    Boiling Caramel
  2. Let mixture until all of the sugar is melted (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.  If you’re finding that the caramel is too liquidy, add more sugar.  Conversely, if you’re finding that the caramel hardens when you dip a spoon and pull it out for a bit, add a little more butter.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
  4. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  5. Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
  6. Fill each liner a little more than 1/2 full.  I used a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop but don’t use a full 1/4 cup in each cupcake liner.

    Oven Time!
    Oven Time!
  7. Bake approx 20 minutes until centers are set.
  8. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Caramel Buttercream:
  1. While cupcakes are cooling make the frosting. Combine butter, powdered sugar 3/4 cup prepared (and COOLED) caramel sauce and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together about 2 minutes until creamy.

Constructing Cupcakes:
  1. After cupcakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pierce the tops of cupcakes with a sharp knife or skewer about 10 times. Pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, allowing it to absorb into the holes.

    Caramel Sauce
    Caramel Sauce
  2. Let the cupcakes finish cooling completely and then frost with about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each.  Or you can just pipe the frosting on as I did.

    Large Open Star Frosting Tip
    Large Open Star Frosting Tip
  3. Lightly sprinkle your cupcakes with (coarse or flaked) sea salt.

    With Salt Topping
    With Salt Topping

My two favorite cupcakes are still the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and Samoas Cupcakes, but these were definitely a hit at the party.

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel

Not a lot of time but severely backlogged on posts, so here’s a quick one!

I made this as part of Christmas dinner dessert (yes, very late on these posts) for my dad and I as the final round to my Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2012.  He’s diabetic and while I’ve tried to make diabetes-friendly baked goods before, they just aren’t the same.  So, I found a dessert recipe on Smitten Kitchen with relatively low sugar in it.

Add Butter and Sugar
Add Butter and Sugar

Most of the sweetness comes from the apples.  I picked Fuji for this batch since they’re naturally a bit sweeter than Granny Smith. I also cut down on the amount of sugar that the recipe called for to be sprinkled on top of the tart prior to its first round in the oven. This tart wasn’t that hard to make, but it was definitely tedious making every thinly sliced apple layer perfect within the visual masterpiece.  While the tart was baking, I started the salted caramel in the last 10 minutes of baking time.

Salted Caramel Glaze
Salted Caramel Glaze

This was my first time making anything with puff pastry, though I’ve eaten my fair share of homebaked goods entailing aforementioned flaky layered goodness… enough to know there are a lot of bad puff pastries out there. I used DuFour puff pastry for this and don’t recommend anything less – it’s the best stuff money can buy and worth every penny!  Smitten Kitchen recommends it too!

Ready for Glazing
Ready for Glazing

My dad and I ended up eating about 2/3 of the tart after our hearty dinner (which I’ll post about eventually!).  It was so addicting hot out of the oven, and would have been absolute heaven with some cinnamon ice cream on top!

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Glaze
Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Glaze

I also made this again for the Annual Sho-Yu Holiday Party we have every January along with a batch of Samoas Cupcakes, the official team cupcake.

Plenty more updates coming!  Until next time!

Basic Macarons

I’m a Macaronaholic. Part of why I love these cookies so much is because I respect the fact that it’s really easy to make bad ones.  Different factors come in to play when making these chewy little clouds of heaven – humidity, room temperature, sifting, distribution of heat in your oven, etc. I’ve been too intimidated to make them on my own out of fear of having new content to contribute to my list of crafting/baking disasters.  If only there was some sort of alert to let you know when you’re about to over mix, over (or under) dry, or over bake your macarons…

I braved the Black Friday madness once again, this time to take an Intro to French Macarons class at the mall in Santa Monica with the goal of quelling said fears.  We made a basic vanilla macaron with four different fillings – raspberry buttercream, passion fruit buttercream, coffee buttercream, and a very buttery salted caramel.  The salted caramel was made from scratch, and we made an Italian meringue buttercream, split it three ways, and then added the secondary flavor for the other fillings.  The raspberry filling just had freeze-dried raspberries added to it, and concentrates were added to the buttercream for the passion fruit and coffee fillings. Pretty straightforward.

Basic Vanilla Macaron

The class was really informational and fun, with the exception the one student in my class who also happened to be named Allison. She referred to me throughout the class as “Other Allison”, probably because her macaron cookies came out cracked and in any shape but round. She didn’t like this, and made comments like “Leave it to Other Allison to show the class up.”  However, once the cookie sheets came out of the oven, she “accidentally” took one of mine and started applying the filling to those.  I would have blamed it on a mix-up with the name, but she had written “Allie” on her cookie sheet.  Really?  I was already annoyed with her for being obnoxious, but as I looked at the sad “Allie” misshapen macaron cookies I was left with, I was just about ready to stab her with my offset spatula.  Luckily, as a test of my learnings, I got asked to make a second batch and those turned out great. Suck it, Allie. #notbitter

Basic Vanilla Macaron with Raspberry Buttercream Filling

I’m taking an intermediate class next week to learn how to make different types of macaron fillings (custards, ganaches, etc.), as well as different flavored cookies (rose petal, pistachio, hazelnut, etc.).  Really exciting!  After that, I think I may try them on my own.  Eek!

Samoas Cupcakes (Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting)

If you work in an office, you knows it’s Girl Scout cookie season because at least five of your coworkers are slanging them on behalf of their daughters.  At my workplace, people were putting post-its donning “so-and-so’s daddy is also selling these” on competitor’s order forms.  It was a cookie warzone!

Cupcake Batter – Ingredients

Being a former Girl Scout myself, I felt the need to pay homage to my roots and decided to stay in last Saturday night (shocker) to bake. I thought about doing a homemade version of Samoa cookies, but opted for a deconstructed Samoa Cupcake since cookie-mania would ensue in a matter of weeks. I found a great recipe on Bakers Royale, but doing these treats meant I would have to (once more) face my arch-nemesis – frosting. However, I’m proud to say that I managed to make it successfully AND without having to disassemble my kitchen sink again.

My First Successful Frosting – Salted Caramel Buttercream

I usually scrape off most of the frosting on cupcakes, as it oftentimes overpowers the flavor and texture of the cake, but this frosting was really light and fluffy. The flavor beheld the perfect balance of salty and sweet! Pew pew – take THAT, frosting!

Usually, the chocolate cupcake recipes I’ve used in the past call for vegetable oil, but this one utilized sour cream and butter for moisture.  My favorite bakery sells a vanilla cupcake using sour cream in the batter and it seriously is the moistest thing ever, so I falsely assumed using sour cream in mine would produce the same level of amazement. Target and my local grocery store also didn’t have Dutch-processed cocoa powder, so I used some unsweetened cocoa powder that I already had and added a little extra baking soda to neutralize the missing alkali.  The cake ended up a bit dry, so it could have been due to a chemical imbalance as a result of my laziness or sour cream failing me. Oh well, too bad.

Cupcake Assembly Station

After frosting each cupcake, I smushed some toasted coconut on top and then drizzled the tops with melted chocolate.  I pretty much made a huge mess of my kitchen with all of the different ingredients and steps but after about 5 hours of labor, I was happy with the end result.

Samoas Cupcake

I brought these to Shirley’s Super Bowl party as well as for Sho-Yu to try at our game. What was left went to work with me.  Everyone seemed to like them, especially Sho-Yu.

Here’s the recipe from Baker’s Royale:

Makes approximately 20-24 cupcakes


Chocolate Cupcake:

  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 T vanilla

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T butter
  • 6 T heavy whipping
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 11/2 C powdered sugar

Toasted Coconuts:

  • 1/2 C sweetened coconut

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 1/4 C milk chocolate


Chocolate Cupcake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a bowl, mix sour cream and baking soda together; set aside. Sift flour and cocoa powder; set aside. Using a mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in salt and beat until combined. Add in eggs and beat until combined. Add in egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Turn off mixer and, using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, add in sour cream mixture and flour mixture, alternating in thirds. Fold in each rotation, beginning with the sour cream and ending with the flour mixture, mixing each rotation until just combined. Fill cupcake liner two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  1. To make the caramel portion: Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes addthe 2 tablespoons of  butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine. Set aside to cool completely before adding it to the next step.
  2. Finishing the caramel buttercream frosting: Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Beat until combined.
  3. Add in  caramel sauce and beat until combined.

Toasted Coconuts:

  1. Spread coconut on top of foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until shreds start to turn light brown.

Chocolate Drizzle:

  1. Heat milk chocolate in microwave for about 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency.

To assemble:

  1. Pipe salted buttercream frosting to preference. Sprinkle coconut on top of frosting and finish with chocolate drizzling.