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Cocoa Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

19 Sep

I’m just the slightest bit interested in caramel right now. I’m sure this minor obsession of mine will pass quickly. Like my infatuation with bacon. And oatmeal. And yogurt-covered pretzels. The ephemerality of those addictions is precisely why I weigh approximately two metric tons right now. So I’m sure this caramel fetish will be similarly short-lived.

Basically, I’m screwed.

done for

That said, you should make these cupcakes. ASAP. I brought them to a barbecue, and they were gone in under three minutes. Despite my lack of even the slightest hint of humility when it comes to my baking, I’m not exaggerating for effect. These were a little like heroin. Or bacon. Or oatmeal. Or yogurt-covered pretzels. Just in cupcake form. Which reminds me – I need to create a cupcake that combines bacon and oatmeal and yogurt-covered pretzels. The future is alive with promise.

I used a pastiche of two different recipes in order to create these monsters. The cupcakes are yet another spectacular Form V Artisan creation, while the frosting comes from a source I stumbled upon after searching for the perfect salted caramel accompaniement to the ‘black tie’ cupcakes. The frosting was delicious, and the cupcakes were moist and fluffy – they combined the most compelling characteristics of a boxed-mix with none of the residual baker’s guilt of ‘cheating’. Finally, they gave me an excuse to break out a long-coveted new purchase:

kitchen detritus

Ingredients – For the cupcakes
  • 1 & 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


dry ingredients

Instructions – For the cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18* muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda & salt) into a large bowl. Whisk in sugar after sifting other ingredients.

wet ingredients, waving at you

3. Beat in wet ingredients (eggs, vegetable oil, corn syrup and vanilla extract) with an electric beater on medium low speed, ~ 30 seconds. Batter will be ‘crumbly’ in appearance.

4. Pour in boiling water and beat on medium-high for around 1 minute, until the batter achieves a smooth consistency.

5. Fill the muffin cups about 1/2 full with batter, and bake for around 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

* I was overzealous when filling some of my muffin cups, and so I only got 17 cupcakes out of this recipe. However, if you only fill the tins halfway full the finished cupcakes are much easier to frost – I recommend the original & vastly superior instructions…

Ingredients – For the frosting (makes enough for 18 cupcakes)

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 + 2 tbsp cup heavy cream
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks + 2 tbsp salted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


Instructions – For the frosting

buttercream draped in caramel

1. Bring sugar and water to boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan every so often to ensure even distribution,  but DO NOT stir! Continue to cook for 6-7 minutes until sugar begins to caramelize and turns a dark copper colour.

2. Remove from heat and stir in cream and vanilla, until mixture is smooth. Set aside for 20 minutes or so, until mixture has cooled.  [This recipe makes around 1/2 cup of salted caramel sauce, and I believe you could easily sub in that amount of your favourite salted or unsalted caramel – just make sure to adjust the salt content in the butter accordingly!]

sacrificial teddy graham

3. Beat the softened butter with an electric mixer  until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and continue to mix on low speed, until mixture is completely incorporated.

4. Add caramel, and beat on low until incorporated, when frosting achieves a uniform consistency. If you are frosting the cupcakes immediately I would suggest chilling it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, as it will make it easier to manipulate when frosting.

5. Test frosting, even at the expense of your most favoured supply of snacks (see above).
not just because it's the neighbourly thing to do - you'll get fat if you don't.

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