Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream are quite possibly my favorite cupcake flavor combination.
This is not my first blog. My first blog was a cupcakes only blog. Well, about 90% cupcakes.
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.
Instead 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.
I 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. I 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.
I 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.
So 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!!
One 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.
- Dry Ingredients:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( Dutch process like Droste or another GOOD brand)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 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)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs room temp
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (not wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
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
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the center.
Place paper baking cups in regular sized muffin tins, spray edges around
cups lightly with cooking spray. If you have a small 6 cup muffin tin and you only
get 27 or 28 cupcakes fill the rest of the wells halfway with water and no baking
Whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt)
in a large bowl.
In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer whisk eggs till slightly thickened and a pale
Add in the milk, vanilla, oil and vinegar and whisk/beat well
Add in the melted and cooled chocolate and whisk/beat until combined well
Either add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients OR the wet into the flour and mix
just to combine. Add in the boiling water and mix again just to combine. Scrape
down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all the dry ingredients are
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups
Bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and free
of crumbs or the cupcake tops bounce back when lightly pressed. Mine baked for
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!!
- For the caramel:
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- large pinch sea salt
- For the buttercream:
- 6 egg whites
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 sticks of butter, at room temperature (I use Straus Family Creamery salted butter)
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!!
My 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!