Salted caramel is one of those flavors that many might find strange upon hearing of it, but honestly once you get your first taste of salted caramel there’s no looking back! My first encounter with salted caramel was @ Tom’s Palette, a yummy little ice-cream parlor in Singapore. My two flavors of choice at this parlor — chocolate sorbet and salted caramel side-by-side in a cup!
Can I just say that little tinge of salt just creates the most perfect flavor sensation when paired with melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate ice cream and buttery caramel? Such a perfect combination! Naturally then, when flipping through my brand new copy of Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes — a gift from my sis — this wonderful recipe entitled ‘Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes’ caught my eye and soon it was time to bake them up!
Unfortunately though I couldn’t find any fleur-de-sel over here where I stay, so I used regular salt, which really just didn’t give that delicate salty sensation these cupcakes needed.
Still, I learnt to make caramel (never done before) and I loved Martha’s dark chocolate frosting recipe which piped on beautifully onto the most perfect-looking cupcakes I have ever baked! And honestly, you can’t really go wrong with dark chocolate cupcakes, filled with caramel and topped with chocolate frosting. Maybe not as good as the taste the mind conjured up, but still pretty Damn Good! Thanks, Martha! 😀
I did a mix of mini-cupcakes and normal sized cupcakes and found somehow the mini ones did just taste better! Possibly because I ran a little short of caramel (not due to the recipe, but due to a small accident which left me with a large lump of sugar and a small amount of caramel!) so the large cupcakes were slightly wanting on caramel flavor.
Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes
Makes around 56 mini cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (I substituted yoghurt in same amount)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup warm water
- Salted Caramel Filling (recipe follows, keep it warm!)
- Sea Salt (preferably fleur de sel, for garnish) — I couldn’t get this and used regular salt NOT the same thing at all!
- Dark Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 350F (approx 175C). Line cupcake pan with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, yoghurt, oil, vanilla and water. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer, until smooth and combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the lined cupcakes, filling about 2/3 full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean — should be around 15 minutes. Cool for around 10 minutes before removing from pan.
- For the filling, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (around 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons warm filling into each hollowed out cupcake. (For the bigger cupcakes around 3-4 teaspoons of filling is needed with a hole of around 3/4 inch depth). Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the filling.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip (Martha recommends Wilton #18) with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling up and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Do not refrigerate the cupcakes; store at room temperature in airtight containers. (I put mine in the refrigerator though and they were just fine).
Salted Caramel Filling
Makes around 2 cups
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I substituted honey)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (preferably fleur de sel)
- Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, swirling occasionally until syrup is clear.
- Stop stirring and cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed.
- Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360F (use a candy thermometer as needed)
- Remove from heat, and immediately (but slowly) pour in cream. The mixture will spatter. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.
- Use immediately. If the caramel begins to harden, reheat gently until it is pourable again.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
Makes around 5 cups
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used van Houten)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- Combine the cocoa and boiling water, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt until pale and fluffy.
- Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.
- I refrigerated the frosting for around half an hour to harden it a bit (due to high humidity levels/heat where I live things melt really fast) then beat on low speed until it was smooth again. And wow, this frosting is really amazing — really smooth, dark and even quite tasty, and best of all, wonderfully pipe-able.