Caramel cupcakes are sweet, soft, and buttery, filled with caramel, and topped with caramel buttercream. I dare you to stop at just one!
One question: How exactly is it September? It seems like just yesterday I was asking HOW is CHRISTMAS here already? I think I ask myself where time is going on at least a daily basis.
I guess time flies when you’re eating sugar! Or maybe is just seems like it’s flying because I have the sugar shakes.
Anyway. . .enough of my boring inner thoughts. Let’s talk cupcakes! Specifically caramel cupcakes. Yes, CARAMEL cupcakes. Soft, buttery cupcakes filled with caramel sauce and topped with caramel buttercream. Then drizzled with still more caramel because why not? (Although that last drizzle is totes optional.)
Why you’ll love these caramel cupcakes:
- You don’t need a stand mixer to make them!
- They’re simple to put together and you get to use store-bought caramel sauce rather than making your own
- You probably have all the ingredients to make them on hand right now (no trip to the store means you can eat that much sooner)
How to make caramel cupcakes
To make your cupcake base, you’ll start by whisking together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then beat the butter until it’s very creamy.
Gradually beat in the sugar and mix until it’s very light and fluffy, this will take 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t skimp on the time you spend beating the batter at this point; creaming the butter and sugar together beats air into the cupcake batter, resulting in a lighter final product. Next, beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
Set aside your electric mixer and use a rubber spatula to fold in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Mix just until the flour is fully incorporated; over-mixing at this point will result in a denser cupcake.
Bake your cupcakes 16 to 20 minutes. Once your cupcakes have cooled completely, you’re ready to fill and frost them! Don’t skip the cooling step or the cupcakes will be next to impossible to fill and the frosting will melt on top of them.
How to make caramel buttercream
The most important thing to remember when making caramel buttercream is that the butter and the caramel sauce both need to be at room temperature. If they aren’t both at room temp, your ingredients will not mix properly.
Beat the room temperature butter until it’s very smooth, then add the powdered sugar and beat to combine.
Add a half cup of room temperature caramel sauce along with vanilla and salt, then beat until smooth. If your frosting is too thick, you can add a bit of milk or cream to thin it out; if it’s too thin add more powdered sugar. And that’s it!
How to fill caramel cupcakes
Use a small paring knife to cut holes about 1 inch wide by 1 inch deep into each cupcake and reserve the cake you cut out of the holes. Use a spoon or a disposable piping bag with just the very tip cut off to fill the holes with caramel sauce. Replace the cake you cut out of the holes and you’re ready to frost them.
Baker’s tip: if the cupcakes are too soft to cut into, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to an hour and they’ll firm up enough that you should be able to cut into them easily.
You’ll notice as you fill the cupcakes that the caramel will soak into the cake. This is TOTALLY FINE! In fact, I think the caramel-soaked cake is what makes these caramel cupcakes extra special.
You get a little gooey-ness from the caramel sauce that doesn’t soak in but you get extra moisture and caramel flavor in the surrounding cake. It’s utterly addictive—similar to the way that the center of a cinnamon roll is what keeps you going back for more (or is that just me?).
If you opt to add the drizzle of caramel sauce on top of your cupcakes, I recommend using a plastic squeeze bottle. You can use a spoon but the squeeze bottles allow for more control.
I used this large open star tip to frost these cupcakes but you can just spread the frosting on top if you prefer.
OK, I hope no one is still reading at this point. Not because I hope I’ve lost everyone with my ramblings though—I just hope you’re all in the kitchen right now baking up a batch of caramel cupcakes. You’ll love them!
A few more cupcake recipes (in case you’re hungry)
Did you make these caramel cupcakes? Awesome! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Instagram too! Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your creations! Then like IBK on Facebook and follow on Pinterest for more delicious recipes.
Caramel cupcakes are sweet and buttery and filled with caramel. What could be more delicious?
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup caramel sauce at room temperature, divided + more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream if necessary
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 14 to 15 muffin cups with cupcake liners and set pan aside.
- Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Place the butter in another medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer set to medium until very smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes, until very light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks 1 at a time, then beat in the vanilla.
- Use a rubber spatula to mix in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just smooth.
- Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup a little more than half full. Bake 16 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. (Or use an electric mixer and a large mixing bowl.) Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar and mix on low to combine.
- Add 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, the vanilla, and salt, then turn mixer to medium and mix until smooth.
- If frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add milk. Set frosting aside.
- Use a small paring knife to cut a hole about 1 inch wide and a scant 1 inch deep in each of the cupcakes. Reserve the cake you cut out of the holes.
- Pipe or spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of caramel sauce into each hole. Trim the cake you removed from the holes so it will fit over the caramel as a sort of plug, then replace the plug in the hole.
- Frost cupcakes as desired, then refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes to set the frosting. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.
Be sure both your butter and your caramel sauce are at room temperature before you make the frosting, otherwise the frosting will not mix together properly.
If the cupcakes are too soft to cut into, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to an hour and they’ll firm up enough that you should be able to cut into them easily.
Cupcakes adapted from How to Bake Everything