I'm warning you now. These are sinful! The coarse salt offsets the sweet caramel and chocolate curls perfectly. I could eat this buttercream with a spoon.
You NEED to make these right now and then devour 3 of them before anyone in your house notices that you're baking. You will NOT regret it.
Well, ok, so you might think twice about it tomorrow morning when you step on the scale but these cupcakes are worth it. I promise.
I have to give credit to Kate of Grin and Bake It for her caramel recipe that I tweaked for this caramel buttercream.
You can download the recipe from Scribd here.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
1 box chocolate cake mix (I prefer Pillsbury)
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup water
3 tbs dutch-process cocoa powder
On low for one minute, beat cake mix, eggs, butter, water and cocoa powder. Increase speed to med-high and beat for one more minute or until batter is smooth. Do not overmix. Scoop into lined cupcake pan filling cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before moving to cooking rack.
Salted Caramel Buttercream adapted from Grin and Bake It (she has pics of the caramel that I found helpful my first time through)
½ CUP SUGAR
2 TBS WATER
¼ CUP HEAVY CREAM
1 ½ TSP VANILLA
1 CUP BUTTER, SOFTENED
5 CUPS POWDERED SUGAR
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:FRAN’S CARAMEL (or your favorite caramel sauce)
CHOCOLATE CURLS (I get mine at a local kitchen shop but you could make your own or just use shaved chocolate)
Stir sugar and water in a small pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 5 minutes. Do NOT stir it. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (start with a few spoonfuls), stirring until completely smooth. Set aside until cool to the touch.
Beat butter in a large bowl. Add powdered sugar and about 1/3-1/2 of caramel. Beat until mixed, adding caramel in small amounts until buttercream is the right texture. I really go by feel on this. All of the caramel is a little too much but I use ¾ or more of it.
Pipe onto cupcakes. Working with 4 cupcakes at a time, drizzle Fran’s Caramel (or your favorite caramel sauce) over the top. I find that I have to soften it a little in the microwave first. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over cupcakes and then sprinkle chocolate curls on top.