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!

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

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.

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.

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!*

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!

Once you’ve got your cupcakes injected with caramel, pipe thickened ganache onto cupcakes. Sprinkle each with sea salt and serve!
Caramel sauce recipe from Annie’s Eats, ganache recipe from Real Simple, cake recipe from Rachael Ray magazine.


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