Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling and Dark Chocolate Frosting

by byn on February 26, 2011

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing

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I love baking treats for my friends for their birthdays, but I can easily get caught up in trying to decide what to make. I have endless bookmarked recipes on both my work and home laptops, bakebooks with post-its attached, and of course, my new food magazine supply; a stack which is growing at a concerning rate given my hoarding tendencies.

So what I really love is when I get a request for a specific recipe, instead of just ‘something chocolate’ or ‘cupcakes’ or ‘whatever you want’. When I told Leianne (one of my biggest supporters and epic commenters) I would bring cupcakes to her birthday party, she sent me the link to these treats that she’d had her eye on for a while.

Since I’m not afraid of making homemade caramel anymore, I was definitely up to this challenge. We’re dealing with three separate components here: chocolate mini-cupcakes that are filled with homemade salted caramel and then topped with a super rich dark chocolate frosting.  It was a fun afternoon project, and I learned a few things too:

– Freshly baked cupcakes are a bitch to hollow-out. Ideally I would have made these the day before, but that didn’t happen. In retrospect, I should have popped them in the fridge which would have made them a little more firm, and it would have been easier to cut out the middles.
– Caramel is super messy. Obviously I knew this, but I was in denial and tried to use two spoons to fill the cupcakes. If I had more time I would have let the caramel cool and poured it into a squeeze bottle to neatly fill the cupcakes.

– RTFM…well recipe. I was lazing around watching E! for a while after filling the cupcakes before I started the icing. I didn’t realize that once you melted the chocolate it had to cool completely before making the icing. Definitely should have read the recipe the whole way through, and done this before anything else. It would at least have given me more time to get the caramel out of my hair before heading to the party. 

I packed up the cupcakes and headed out, and Leianne thought I was pretty amazing for bringing them (I know this because she told me I was f***ing awesome about 5 times when I was leaving and she had already enjoyed many adult beverages). Here’s the birthday girl about to eat her treat (and please note I purchased self-tanner after this party, and am fully aware that I look transparent next to Leianne):

And here are Leianne’s brother and cousin who were excited when I told them they would be on my blog:

I also brought Chris & Debbie a few of the leftovers the next day, and the only response was an empty container and “om nom nom” from my brother.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling and Dark Chocolate Frosting

Source: Bake or Break


Dark Chocolate Frosting (measurements are a bit weird because it’s a half batch)

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and *cooled*

1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp boiling water

1 cup + 2 tbsp butter, room temperature

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp icing sugar

1/8 tsp salt


1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup warm water

Salted Caramel Filling

2 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup water

1 tbsp light corn syrup

3/4 cup whipping cream

2 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (like Maldon)


  1. For frosting, combine cocoa and boiling water. Stir until cocoa has dissolved, and set aside to cool while you do everything else (doesn’t take long to cool down).
  2. Beat butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy (I did this in the food processor, but you can use an electric mixer), then add the melted and cooled chocolate, and mix until combined. Add cocoa mixture and mix again. Set aside until ready to use – just be careful if you put it in the fridge, because it might get too hard by the time you’re ready to frost the cupcakes.
  3. For cupcakes, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and water. Mix by hand or on low-speed until smooth. Fill mini muffin pans about 2/3 full, or if you have foil liners, you can just put them on a cookie sheet and not worry about the pans. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely, and if you chill them first or make them the day before, it’ll be easier to hollow them out.
  4. For salted caramel, heat sugar, water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally until syrup is clear. Attach a candy thermometer, stop stirring, and cook until syrup starts to boil, turns amber brown, and the temperature just reaches 360. Remove from heat.
  5. Slowly pour in cream (it will steam and bubble like crazy), and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt. It’s best to use right away, as it will thicken as it cools, but you can always reheat it gently until it’s pourable again.
  6. To assemble, use a small sharp knife to carve out the middles of the cupcakes. Fill with salted caramel, and sprinkle sea salt on top. I used a piping bag with a star tip to swirl the icing on top and finish with a final sprinkle of sea salt.

Notes: Ideally, I would have completed these over a few days, instead of all in one afternoon. You could make the cupcakes the day before you want to serve them, and chill them so they’d be easier to cut. Frosting can be made in advance as well. Then when you’re closer to your party departure, all you have to do is make the caramel, fill the cupcakes, frost and you’re done. It sounds like a lot more work than it is.

One more note on the caramel – I thought it was too chewy. It was like the caramel in a Turtle. But Leianne pointed out that was better because if it’s too loose, it’ll end up everywhere when you take a bite. Very true.

Finally, don’t store the filled cupcakes in the fridge. The caramel will get way too hard to even bite through. Definitely serve at room temperature.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle August 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Wow, these look amazing! Fellow baker who just stumbled upon your site via a google search.




Kristine March 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

they were so good! it was worth getting caramel in your hair for!


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