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| August 29, 2016


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caramel butter cupcakes.

My mother is obsessed with the caramel cake from the grocery store. There is a mysterious connection between its presence on our kitchen counter and the day-old sale in the bakery.

Another birthday, and another special request for cake - so I was off to find a decent recipe for the caramel cake that mom loves so dearly. Mostly, it's the icing that she raves over, so I knew that whatever I found needed to be superb.

I came across this recipe about a month ago and decided it was my golden ticket. Homemade caramel and classic southern butter cake... and yes, momma was happy. :)

We decided that it would be wiser to make cupcakes instead of one large birthday cake (for giving away and freezing - perks of having a tiny, tiny family), so I jumped at the chance to spice the cake up a bit.

The best thing about these is truly the frosting. It's a thick caramel buttercream that sets up quickly and is ultra-portable. I decided to stuff these little guys with some gooey caramel before I made up the frosting, and that's ultimately what brings them to the next level!

Filling a cupcake is extremely easy - you don't need any of those fancy contraptions that Betty Crocker is trying to pass off as the next great thing. Grab a paring knife or something equivalent and cut out a small cone-chunk from the top of each cupcake. No need to be dainty... you're going to cover it up with a ton of frosting anyway, right?

Scoop your caramel in, plug the top back on, and presto! Filled cupcake. Couldn't be easier, and the knife goes right back in the drawer instead of finding a place to store that awkward cupcake-filling... thing. Not discrediting them completely, though - they are nice if you want uniformity!

If you've never made homemade caramel before, it's important to note that you'll need a candy thermometer or having a decent knowledge of how to do a cold water test. You want your caramel to reach the right temperature so it sets up just enough - not too runny, not too stiff.

Yep, if you're thinking ahead... these cupcakes are basically topped with super-soft delicious caramel candy. It's heavenly. My mother has good taste.

You don't have to fill these for them to be good - especially if preparing the caramel seems daunting, you may feel like cutting out the extra step so you can just be done. That's okay, promise. The icing shines brightly enough on its own!

For piping, I recommend allowing the buttercream to rest for a bit and come to room temperature. This is one of the few times that you will prepare a frosting while warm, so if you want your cupcakes to look ruffley like the ones you see in the photos instead of glossy and smooth, wait just a bit! You'll be able to tell if you squirt a few practice squeezes back into the bowl as it sets up. Just don't wait too long! :)

Butter Cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Smidgen of salt
½ cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Salted Caramel Buttercream

2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup Crisco vegetable shortening
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups confectioner's sugar

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners (recipe makes 18 cupcakes).

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

3. Cream butter until fluffy and then add sugar. Continue creaming for a few minutes, then add eggs, mixing well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour.

4. Add vanilla and beat well; turn mixer on high once vanilla has been incorporated for about 10-15 seconds to lighten batter and incorporate air for a fluffier cake texture. Bake 17-20 minutes, watching for doneness.

5. To prepare caramel filling/frosting, add all ingredients from the first stage of the frosting recipe in a 4-5 quart pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stir frequently with a wooden spoon. Cook to softball stage (235-245 degrees on a candy thermometer as well as using the cold water test).

6. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in salt from stage #2 of the buttercream recipe. Whip the caramel until it has cooled enough to touch lightly. (I whipped in short bursts every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes.) If desired, fill cupcakes with this soft caramel before it cools completely.

7. Add the butter from the second stage of the frosting recipe to the mixing bowl and whip.
Add confectioner's sugar in ½ cup increments, increasing from low to high speed as the sugar is incorporated (to reduce immediate sugar spray and to incorporate air into the frosting). Transfer buttercream to piping bag and frost cupcakes as desired. Frosting will harden upon standing. Serves 18.

Recipe Adapted from Add A Pinch


  1. These certainly look amazing! I love caramel in just about anything.

    1. Me, too! Caramel is so wonderful, no matter the consistency. Drizzled, gooey, chewy - it's perfect.

      By the way, I love your profile picture! I'm partial to that character;)


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