Salted Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

When thinking about flavor profiles that go well together, I don’t know any I don’t automatically go to sweet + salty, . Sweet, yes. Salty, yes. Together? Oh yes. Throw some buttery smooth caramel sauce into the mix and you have one decadent little cupcake. I’ve found several salted chocolate caramel cupcake recipes and they almost always use a caramel buttercream. While I’m sure it’s delicious, I wanted to stick with a chocolate-caramel ganache (inspired by the Flying Cupcake, of course). Have a tall glass of milk or a cup of coffee on hand because ooooo-whee are they rich!

Ingredients:
For the caramel sauce:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the ganache:
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream, room temperature
For the cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup plus 3 tbsps vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:
Start by making the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, cooking until it foams and turns an amber color.
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Off the heat, stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Set aside to cool. Now the ganache! I know, I know, this all seems backwards. But you have to give the caramel time to cool and the ganache time to set up… Trust me, I’m doing you a solid here. 😉 Add your chocolate to a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring between. When completely melted and smooth, add your warmed heavy cream and blend well.
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Add some of the caramel sauce (I’d guesstimate about 1/4 cup, more if you’d like more caramel flavor) and blend. Set aside until thick and spreadable. *Note: this can take up to 4 hours…do NOT put in the fridge to speed this up. You’ll end up with lumpy ganache!*
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Now that those are done, let’s make some cuppy cakes! Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare cupcake pans with 24 liners. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add the water, oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Fill 2/3 full of batter and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Transfer to wire rack and let cool. Once cool, put some of your caramel sauce into a pastry bag with a small round tip or a squirt bottle and inject a fair amount into each cupcake. This can get messy!
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Once you’ve got your cupcakes injected with caramel, pipe thickened ganache onto cupcakes. Sprinkle each with sea salt and serve!
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Caramel sauce recipe from Annie’s Eats, ganache recipe from Real Simple, cake recipe from Rachael Ray magazine.

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