Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

This is not my first blog. My first blog was a cupcakes only blog. Well, about 90% cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 10 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I had a few other baked goods I would make and post. Like cookies  or muffins. And all had awful pics of them. Like taken with my old blackberry, under flourescent kitchen lighting, with stuff piled on my kitchen counter in the background. Food styling – what’s that? Natural lighting – huh? I ran the blog when we lived in our old house which had a ton of incredible natural light – that I never took advantage of. Ever.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 4 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamInstead I took pics on the kitchen counter. Sometimes I used my speedlight aka flash. Directed right at the cupcakes. I broke ALL food photography ” rules”. That I was completely unaware of at the time.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 5 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamI stopped my cupcake blog a few months before we moved. It was getting harder to keep up with it with having a second kiddo in the house as well as getting ready to move several states away. So I let it just sit there idle. Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 3 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamI still got lots of comments. Lots of ” are you going to add the recipe for these cupcakes? They look so good!”  I started going back and adding recipes. But then it was time to move and get settled into our new home. So the blog got put on hold again.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 8 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamI started to miss blogging. I read food blogs every day. I LOVE reading food blogs. I have a huge list I read and I keep adding to them as I discover new ones and make friends with the blog owners via social media and get to know them better than by just reading their blogs, which makes me love their blogs even more. I have to say there are some incredibly talented bloggers now. And a lot MORE bloggers now than when I first started my blog. I have discovered blogs that write about how to take better food photos ( which mine are still far from award winning but WAY better than they used to be) and there are so many different styles of food photography that I can’t pick on style I like best – I really like it all.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 12 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamSo I decided last year I wanted to blog again, but I wanted a fresh start. New name ( which you can read about why this blog is named what it is in my about section) and I started blogging about more than just cupcakes. I still blog a lot of sweets because the lighting isn’t the best in the house I am in right now and its easier to make something that doesn’t have to be photographed immediately, BUT the lighting is amazing in our new house we will be moving into in a few months. So hopefully there will be even more variety here and even better photos. Practice makes perfect!!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 7 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamOne last thing before the jump to the recipe; this is my GO-TO cupcake recipe when my husband asks me to make something for a work potluck. Everyone seems to either like the chocolate/peanut butter combo or the chocolate/salted caramel. I prefer the chocolate/salted caramel. So I have been making this recipe for years now. Not always the same exact one – but same combo and it always gets rave reviews. They first appeared on my old blog in 2010. HERE if you must ( the pics are bad…oh so bad) and I didn’t take pics of them every time I made them which was like once a month at one point, they were really that popular with the potluck crowd. So these were made for a potluck at my husband’s work recently for a co-workers retirement party. I have a feeling I will be making them often. I might not wait another 3 years to take pics of them – I hope my photography skills vastly improve before that much time passes.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe type: Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24-28
Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever Makes 28 cupcakes (or more or less depending on how full you fill the cupcake tins)
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( Dutch process like Droste or another GOOD brand)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate melted and cooled (cooled for about 15 min make sure its still melted though don’t want it to harden back up)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp water, heated to boiling ( have a kettle of water on the stove boiling ready to go)
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs room temp
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (not wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  1. This can be done with a stand mixer or by hand with a hand mixer or whisk but it is more of a 2 bowl method than one if going the hand mixing route
  2. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the center.
  3. Place paper baking cups in regular sized muffin tins, spray edges around
  4. cups lightly with cooking spray. If you have a small 6 cup muffin tin and you only
  5. get 27 or 28 cupcakes fill the rest of the wells halfway with water and no baking
  6. cup
  7. Whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt)
  8. in a large bowl.
  9. In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer whisk eggs till slightly thickened and a pale
  10. color
  11. Add in the milk, vanilla, oil and vinegar and whisk/beat well
  12. Add in the melted and cooled chocolate and whisk/beat until combined well
  13. Either add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients OR the wet into the flour and mix
  14. just to combine. Add in the boiling water and mix again just to combine. Scrape
  15. down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all the dry ingredients are
  16. incorporated
  17. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups
  18. Bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and free
  19. of crumbs or the cupcake tops bounce back when lightly pressed. Mine baked for
  20. minutes.
  21. Let cool for 5 min in pans and then remove carefully to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting
My notes: Yes there is ONLY baking soda in these but it works. Do not try to add baking powder. I know you will look at this and think, “ don’t baked goods need baking powder or both powder and soda?” well yes, sometimes. It’s the vinegar that reacts with the soda, which helps with the proper leavening of the cake. These totally ROCK. They’re moist, dense, perfect texture and taste. Even 4 days after having been in my fridge, which normally dries them out, but they were still perfect. I have made them a few times now once I got 26 or 27 cupcakes and another time 28. Just depends on how full you fill the cups. I use a #16 ice cream/batter scoop to fill mine. One full scoop works and if I have batter leftover and some look to be less filled with batter than I try to even out with a spoon and add in more batter that way. I also like SLAM the cupcake pans down on my counter a few times ( just lift evenly and let drop) to help get some of the air bubbles out. I am not sure where I read this technique but it works and well its kind of fun to make the noise. Unless you bake while your baby/kids/husband/significant other is sleeping. They might not like it. Good luck and trust me you will LOVE this recipe. I do!!

Salted Caramel Buttercream
Recipe type: Buttercream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • For the caramel:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • large pinch sea salt
  • For the buttercream:
  • 6 egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 sticks of butter, at room temperature (I use Straus Family Creamery salted butter)
  1. For the Caramel:
  2. Add the sugar to a small saucepan and pour the water over it. With the heat on low, swirl the pan around until the sugar has nearly dissolved. Be careful not to let it boil — if it starts getting too hot, remove it from the burner for a few seconds, continuing to swirl.
  3. Once the sugar has mostly dissolved, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover it immediately and leave on boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Uncover and continue swirling the mixture until it becomes dark amber. (Be careful — you want it to be dark, but it can go from dark to burning in seconds.) Take it off the heat immediately.
  5. Slowly pour in the cream, stirring with a whisk. Again, be careful as the caramel will start splattering, and will splatter even more if you add the cream too fast. Whisk until combined and set aside.
  6. For the Buttercream:
  7. Combine the sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar in the stainless steel bowl of an electric stand mixer. Bring a large pan of water to simmer, Set the bowl in the pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Be really careful not to curdle the egg whites– simply remove the bowl from the heat for a bit if it feels like that’s happening. Also, you’ll know when it’s getting close to 160 degrees; the mixture will get foamy and be slippery to the touch.
  8. Remove the bowl to your stand mixer and beat on high speed for 5-7 minutes, until the mixture holds glossy peaks and the bowl is cool to the touch. Lower the speed to medium and add in the butter one tablespoon at a time until all is added in. It may look soupy and or curdled at this point but don’t worry, just raise the speed until it comes together. Add in the caramel sauce and mix well. Taste and add a little more sea salt if desired.
My suggestion for making swiss merinugue buttercream, or any buttercream for that matter, is to use a high quality organic butter. It will have a higher fat content and taste way better. Makes for a super smooth buttercream. I have found most non-organic brands to contain more water and they are less flavorful. This is why I use Straus Butter. Its the best!!



Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 11 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel ButtercreamMy old blog is called A Cup Full Of Cake. I am not sure if I will keep it up for nostalgia, or take it down eventually. Take a look around if you want, the pictures are horrible, but I have fond memories of each cupcake I wrote about. If I had kept it up and was more serious about it then, who knows where I would be today in the blog world, but I love blogging again and can’t wait to see where this blog goes!

 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream PineappleandCoconut 9 Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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  1. Holy Cupcake these look amazing. I love the frosting decoration. I’m pretty terrible at photos at the moment, that’s a goal I have for this year, learn how to take great photos of food!
    Anne @The Cooking Campaign recently posted…Dessert Day: Fudge Pudding Cake!My Profile

  2. These look absolutely delicious! I will need to make them for mother’s day!
    And the icing is flawless…. they look beautiful!
    Nichole recently posted…It’s Another Friday RoundupMy Profile

  3. Yum those look amazing! I love salted caramel =)
    Another thing about the baking soda, if the recipe calls for dutch-processed cocoa, it usually means that the batter is pretty alkaline, so the pH levels need to be evened out by using the baking soda instead of the baking powder.

    On a side note, are you using EasyRecipe for your recipes? I want to be able to use two recipes in one post on my blog but I’d have to pay for the plugin to do that =/
    Lisa @ Je suis alimentageuse recently posted…Kale and Walnut PestoMy Profile

  4. these look yummy, I love salted caramel…..yep, I need about 10 of these :)
    Diane {Created by Diane} recently posted…Pistachio Cut Out CookiesMy Profile

  5. Oh Hooray for growing and improving, right? And hooray for natural lighting. And hooray for salted caramel buttercream! This looks fantastic!
    Jen @ Jen’s Favorite Cookies recently posted…Key Lime Fruit DipMy Profile

  6. Shanna, I just love knowing this about you… A Cup Full of Cake blog! Too cute for words. Honestly, I think you should keep the blog live… for your girls. They will love it! Meanwhile, I simply must try your Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream ASAP. Mmmmm. Diet? What diet? xo
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen recently posted…Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip CookiesMy Profile

  7. Cupcakes are like tiny gifts to our stomachs. These look SO good!
    Jen @JuanitasCocina recently posted…Spicy Pineapple Chicken Drumsticks…And Childhood Dreams…My Profile

  8. Love the look of these, we have my daughter’s birthday coming up and these would be perfect!

  9. There is nothing better than the combination of dark chocolate and salted caramel. I love this recipe and your photos are beautiful.

  10. KlayPipe says:

    Quick question, I love the idea of the salted caramel frosting but I live in Australia and was wondering how much a ‘stick’ of butter weighs? We don’t have sticks of butter over here, they come in 250grams & 500 gram packets. Thanks!

    • 113 grams. I really need to add a conversion calculator and or add on metric measurements to my recipes. I don’t always weigh some amounts as certain flours all weigh different amounts per cup etc.

  11. They are so beautiful and they sound amazing! How do you get the frosting to look like roses?

    • Thanks! I use a wilton 1M open star tip and instead of starting on the outer edge and swirling in I start in the middle and swirl out to make it look like a rose. I found a tutorial on youtube for it before practicing.

      • Please help! :) So I thought I’d get a head start on baking these by pre-measuring and whisking the dry ingredients tonight (and leaving in a covered bowl for the morning) and I just realized I measured and whisked in baking powder. Of course, I realize this after I was done whisking everything together. Is there anything I can do to save it? Or use it for something else? Also, if I have to start all over, I’m almost out of all purpose flour. Can I use cake flour instead? (or mix them?)

        • I say go ahead and try them I haven’t made them with baking powder before always soda so I am not sure how they will come out. Let me know!

          • Thank you! Do you think I should add any baking soda? I was googling and reading that you generally need more baking powder than soda, cuz baking powder is basically soda + cream of tartar, so its less concentrated. I don’t know anymore lol

          • these work because of the baking soda and vinegar and don’t need baking powder. I know a lot of cake recipes call for baking powder only or baking powder and baking soda. I have never made this recipe with baking powder and the vinegar before so I really can’t say if you would need it or not. You can always add an equal amount of baking powder and see how they come out.

        • I always use baking powder, never use soda. It should be fine :-)

          • Thank you guys! I added one tsp of baking soda (to have those two full tsp your recipe calls for) and followed the rest of the instructions as written. One pan came out looking perfect, and my silicone pan came out overflowed. I think the taste is just slightly off, but I’m probably the only person who would notice out of everyone that’s going to eat them. I will try this again this weekend :)

          • I have never used a silicon bake pan before – I have heard they are finicky to use. Glad they worked out. I am curious to see when you try again if you notice the same flavor or different.

          • So, I did take them into work, and the response was actually pretty awesome. I did my usual homemade caramel and filled the center with a dulce de leche/caramel mix, and made a simpler salted caramel frosting (without the egg whites, because I was low on time and didn’t want to chance screwing it up) instead using butter, powdered sugar, caramel, a little heavy cream, a little fresh lemon (to cut the sweetness) etc. and sea salt crystals on top. I got several ”ohmygod”s, ”ohhhhhhmyyyyyygaawwwwwd”s, two marriage proposals, and inappropriate comments like ”orgasmic” – thank you very much for posting this chocolate cake recipe, I love it!! :) oh, and Friday I bought a second metal tin because the silicone one is great, just not for this recipe. The Friday cupcakes were phenomenal as well, at a birthday party and a mothers day celebration. Again, thank you!! My next experiment is to see if I can adapt your recipe to include red wine. I have a great one already, but they come out a little fudge-y with dark cocoa compared to how they come out with natural cocoa. (I like dark cocoa better.) :)

          • Ah that is awesome!! I like the frosting you made – that sounds so good!! Let me know if you adapt with the red wine, I am sure it can be done. Just sub the whole milk for wine!!

  12. Need some help. I’m making this recipe right this second and realized there may be a typo in the salted caramel buttercream instructions… Can you verify? #7 says to combine sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar and water… Water isn’t in the ingredient list and I’m thinking it’s a typo… Can you confirm? Thanks! Cupcakes are already baked and they came out perfectly! Thank you for the step by step instructions.

  13. HI there, my manager gave me this recipe since I bake the birthday goodies here at work. They look and sound amazing. One question – do you use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar? Thanks so much!

  14. Hey Shanna!
    I want to make these for a fiend’s birthday party but she’s a vegan so I can’t include the eggs. I read somewhere that you can replace them with vinegar and baking soda, which the recipe already calls for but I don’t know if it will work.
    Any pice of advice would help a lot. Thanks!

  15. Can I replace the hot water in this with coffee?

  16. Hi Shanna! Question: I was reading your old blog, and wondering, did you ever find the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe? I love all the ones I’ve seen so far, but I haven’t been through the whole thing :)

    • No!! I haven’t. I seriously tried like 10 different recipes and while they were all good – they weren’t ” the one” like my chocolate ones. They all came out so light that they wouldn’t hold up the weight of buttercream and I wanted a denser cupcake. So I am still looking!! Thanks for asking

  17. christi in ma says:

    Swiss Meringue is the only kind of buttercream I like. I’ll have to try your frosting recipe on my chocolate stout cupcakes. That will amp up the flavor a ton!!

  18. Hi, I’m very excited Bc I’m in the middle :) However, I noticed that the buttercream directions say to add all the ingredients which includes water. The ingredient list for the buttercream doesn’t include water :/ help please. How much water?


  1. […] This brown sugar cake turned out quite delicious.  The flavor is light and subtle, not too overpowering.  The point of cake and dip is that you don’t need frosting.  However, if you want to use frosting instead of dip, I wouldn’t blame you.  I recommend trying this salted caramel frosting from Haniela or this one from Pineapple and Coconut. […]

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