Salted Caramel + Chocolate = The Amazing Vanishing Cupcake!

Well, I promised you, so here it is: yummy milk chocolate cupcakes dipped in salted caramel and topped with caramel swirled cream cheese frosting.


Since this was a last minute decision, I don’t have my usual ingredient photos, but I do have a couple of helpful photos for making the caramel sauce. It’s important to cook the sugar until it’s the right color, because that browning of the sugar is what gives caramel it’s flavor. However, in my experience, it’s very, very easy to go overboard in no time at all.

This picture (sorry for the blur) shows you what color your sugar should be when you remove it from the heat. Any lighter than this and you won’t get that caramel-y flavor, but if you go any darker at all, it will taste very burnt. Trust me on this. Some cookbooks or websites will tell you to go darker, until there is almost a reddish tint to the sugar, but don’t do it. Remember, this is experience talking.

Also, making candy is dangerous. There is nothing worse than a candy burn…again, trust me on this. Be very, very careful when handling hot sugar. There is a point in making this sauce when you should be prepared for hot spluttering and steam.

When adding the cream (or any liquid) to hot sugar, it will expand very rapidly, foaming, spluttering, and generating a lot of hot steam. For this step, place the hot sugar on a stable surface, wear an oven mitt on the hand pouring the cream, and use a long wooden spoon for stirring, so that your hand isn’t close to the candy or steam.

Other than those important notes, this is a really simple, very worthwhile recipe.

They’re relatively fast and easy, and with a little spun sugar for decoration, they’re very elegant and exciting.

Making spun sugar is quite easy, but make sure there are no little ones around when you make it. To make your own spun sugar designs, you will follow the same recipe and directions for the caramel sauce, but do not add the cream, butter, and salt. Simply cook the sugar, water, and corn syrup until amber in color, remove it from the heat and allow to sit for about 30 seconds. Use a spoon or fork to quickly drizzle fun shapes onto parchment paper. The mixture hardens almost immediately, so you may need to practice. Just use a large piece of parchment so that you have plenty of room for trial and error.

To make curved shapes, wrap parchment around a rolling pin, can, or other cylindrical item and drizzle the sugar over it. Allow to cool completely before using.

Making the spun sugar pieces was definitely my favorite part of this recipe! I’ve never done it before, so it was a new experience and it was totally fun!! I highly recommend trying it! Whether you add the spun sugar or not, though, these cupcakes are wonderful! Thank you for the inspiration to everyone who commented about salted caramel cupcakes! You guys are brilliant! Now go bake!! Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 3 dozen cupcakes


1 cup boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, crushed

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons salted caramel sauce

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large (4 cup) measuring cup, combine the water and cocoa powder and whisk thoroughly. Stir int he milk; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the apple sauce, then scrape the bowl and add the vanilla. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the batter and beat until just combined. Add half of the cocoa mixture, mix until combined, then repeat with the remaining flour and cocoa mixtures, scraping the bowl as needed.

Place 2 tablespoons of batter in each cupcake liner and bake for 18-20 minutes, or untila  toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the sauce: Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Without stirring, bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the ingredients in the pan occasionally. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches an amber color. Remove from heat and very carefully (the mixture will quickly expand and sputter) add the cream in a slow steady stream, being sure to stir constantly. Once combined, add the salt and butter and continue stirring until both are completely melted and combined. Cool to room temperature before using.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Stir in the vanilla until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a team, beating well between each addition until the frosting is light and fluffy.

To add the caramel swirl, drizzle some of the caramel sauce into an empty pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choice(or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped). Fill the bag with the frosting and pipe onto the cupcakes. Each time you need more frosting, add more caramel to the bag first. *If you don’t feel comfortable with putting a swirl in your frosting, you can drizzle the sauce over the cupcake after you frost it instead.

To assemble, dip each cupcake in the salted caramel sauce and chill for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, Frost cupcakes, as desired. Drizzle with more caramel or top with spun sugar or other decorations.

recipe by Darla


Leave a comment


  1. Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] says

    Those cupcakes look absolutely delicious. Salted caramel is a sure win in my books 🙂

    P.S – I commend you for that shot of the bubbling caramel while you're pouring the cream into it!

  2. Kare says

    Yum – not only do those look sinfully good, they're a work of art. The spun sugar is gorgeous.

    Found you on the Bake it Pretty blog – love your BIP cupcake liners!

  3. Holly Jochum says

    I just made these. Granted, I stepped away from the caramel while it was on the stove and slightly overcooked it, but it was still amazing. Since the caramel sauce was a little burnt, i just decided to add it to the frosting instead of drizzling it over top (though I still dipped the cupcakes in it)… it was SINFUL. I made these today as a test run as I plan on making them for my boyfriend’s birthday soon… Thanks SO MUCH for the amazing recipe!

  4. says

    These cupcakes look delicious! When you say dip the cupcake, you just mean the top right? How do you avoid getting the paper liners ugly? Thanks for the recipe, I’m very excited to try it out!

      • says

        Hi Lynn…I’m so sorry that I missed your first comment and questions. Sometimes comments/questions get right by me.

        I’m glad you made the cupcakes and likes them. This is one of my favorite recipes, but I don’t allow myself to make it too often…I can’t stop from eating them all myself! 🙂

        Again, I’m sorry I missed your first comment.

  5. Alicia Marchand says

    I am going to make these for my mothers 50th birthday party, but due to time contraints, I have to make them 2 days early. Do you think they will hold up and not dry out? Thank you! They look so amazing!

    • says

      Alicia, I’m so sorry for the slow reply. 🙁 Unfortunately, your comment got relegated to a spam folder and I just got to it. Now that I’ve approved it, though, this shouldn’t happen again. If it’s not too late to help, then I think your cupcakes will be fine if you make them 2 days early, as long as you keep them chilled in an airtight container until ready to serve. Again, I’m so sorry for the delay, and i hope my answer didn’t come too late.

  6. says

    I’ve made this caramel sauce somewhere around 10 times since I found your blog a couple of months ago. You have created a caramel monster. I just thought you should know.

    Also your recipes are amazing! Everything I have made has turned out beautifully.

  7. Indigo Grace says

    These look great! I just bought the ingredients and I am very excited to make them! I am making this for my whole family on Thanksgiving. Do you have any suggestions on giving them a little flair or color?

    • Indigo Grace says

      Wow! really turned out great! I super appreciate it and my family really likes the way it looks! I am so excited to see how it tastes tomorrow! thanks again!

  8. Michelle says

    Hi Darla,

    I was looking to do this recipe and totally still can however, I was wondering if your pictures were removed or something happened to this page over time. All the pictures have an ! mark on them. Weird. Just wanted to let you know in case you were not aware because I know how much care you take not only in your creations but in sharing them through your lovely photographs. Thanks for all the inspiration! 🙂

  9. Margie says

    Just found your site as I was searching for salted carmel cupcakes, been busy all night making the choc. cupcakes, the sauce and a filling from another site. Oh, yes I did make the spun sugar shards, easy! I will be assembling them tomorrow, and I have “taste testers” lined up to try. (me…diet) Most difficult part……cleaning the sugar out of the pot!