Chocolate salted caramel mini cupcakes are little bites of pure decadence! Moist chocolate cupcakes are stuffed with gooey salted caramel, then finished with a rich, ganache-like frosting and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Bite-Sized Salted Caramel Filled Cupcakes
As much as I love cupcakes, I don’t make them very often. It’s the frosting thing; I just have no patience for it. But cupcakes with salted caramel and chocolate? Well, let’s just say it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get me to make this recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.
Salted caramel is the more sophisticated version of the bottles of syrupy caramel we all used to squeeze onto our ice cream sundaes when we were kids. Instead of cloying sweetness, you get the perfect balance of sweet and salty. And when you make your own caramel, it’s thick, creamy, and miles better than what you can buy at the grocery store.
The chocolate cupcakes topped off with that rich dark chocolate frosting would be a delicious sweet treat on their own. But add the salted caramel filling, and these cupcakes are transformed into something fantastic. They are a bit labor-intensive, but trust me when I say that they are worth every minute.
(Love salted caramel? Try my Salted Caramel Brownies, Pecan and Salted Caramel Cheesecake, or Salted Caramel Panna Cotta next.)
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
For the cupcakes:
- All-purpose flour – Learn more: How to Measure Flour
- Unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder – Don’t substitute natural cocoa powder; you’ll need Dutch-process cocoa for its dark color and intense flavor.
- Granulated sugar
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Eggs – Let these come to room temperature.
- Vegetable oil – Canola oil is fine, too.
- Vanilla extract – Use store-bought or homemade vanilla extract.
- Warm water
- Sea salt – Use a flaky variety like Maldon or fleur de sel.
For the filling:
- Granulated sugar
- Light corn syrup – Light corn syrup has a smooth vanilla flavor, so there’s no need for additional vanilla in the filling.
- Heavy cream – Accept no substitutes! You really need heavy cream here, not milk or half-and-half.
- Sea salt
For the frosting:
- Unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- Boiling water
- Unsalted butter – Learn more: Unsalted or Salted Butter: Which is Better for Baking?
- Confectioners’ sugar – Sift this to keep your frosting free of lumps.
- Semisweet chocolate
Can I Just Use Milk for Buttermilk?
For this recipe, you can’t. Buttermilk is necessary because its natural acidity reacts with the baking soda in the batter, making your cupcakes light and fluffy.
If you don’t have—or don’t want to buy—buttermilk, the best alternative is to add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup, then pour in whole milk until it reaches the 1 cup mark. Give it a stir and let it sit for 5 minutes; it will curdle and make an excellent buttermilk substitute. (This will make a cup of buttermilk; you can freeze the extra for another time.)
You can also thin sour cream or Greek yogurt with water or milk and use that instead of buttermilk. Learn more: Buttermilk Substitutes in Baking
How to Make Chocolate Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes
If you don’t have a big block of time to make this recipe from start to finish, you can easily break it up into steps. The baked cupcakes can be stored overnight in an airtight container before filling and frosting, or you can freeze them for up to a month.
Make the cupcakes:
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line mini muffin pans with paper liners.
Make the batter. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water, then beat until smooth with an electric mixer on low speed.
Bake. Fill each cup in the muffin pan about two-thirds of the way with the batter. Bake one pan at a time for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool. Let the mini cupcakes cool in the pans on wire racks about 10 minutes. Then, transfer the cupcakes from the pans directly to wire racks to finish cooling. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)
Make the filling:
Start the caramel mixture. Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan set over high heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and stop stirring. Cook the syrup until it comes to a boil, washing down the sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed.
Let the syrup caramelize. Boil and gently swirl the pan occasionally until the syrup is caramelized and the temperature just reaches 360°F. Remove from the heat.
Finish the filling. Slowly pour the cream into the caramel and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the sea salt. If the caramel begins to harden, reheat it over low heat until it’s pourable.
Fill the cupcakes. Using a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped divot from the center of each cupcake. Spoon a teaspoon or two of salted caramel into the cupcakes, then sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the filling.
Make the frosting and finish:
Hydrate the cocoa powder. Combine the cocoa and boiling water in a small mixing bowl and stir until the cocoa is dissolved.
Finish the frosting. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the melted and cooled chocolate. Beat until combined, then beat in the cocoa mixture.
Frost. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, and garnish with a pinch of sea salt. These were frosted using Wilton #18, a medium open-star tip.
How to Frost Cupcakes Without Piping
If you don’t have piping bag or tips, you can scoop the frosting into a zip-top bag, snip off the corner, and use that to make swirls of frosting on top of your chocolate salted caramel mini cupcakes.
Another option is to use an offset spatula. It’s a little more elegant than using a butterknife (although that certainly works in a pinch!), and a lot easier than piping.
Tips for Success
Read my baking tips for beginners, then use these additional pointers for perfect chocolate salted caramel mini cupcakes.
- Don’t over-mix the batter. The buttermilk makes these cupcakes light and airy, but over-mixing the batter will pop the bubbles formed by the buttermilk and baking soda reaction and overwork the gluten in the flour, leaving your cupcakes flat.
- Fill the mini muffin tin without making a mess. If you have a small cookie dough scoop, use that to fill the mini muffin tin. Otherwise, use a small measuring spoon to fill the muffin cups without getting batter all over the pan.
- Work quickly. When you’re filling the cupcakes with the caramel, you’ll need to work fast, as the caramel will start to harden once it’s removed from the heat. You can prepare the cupcakes prior to starting the caramel so they’re ready to go.
How to Store Leftovers
These cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store any leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container for a day or two.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Once frosted, you can freeze these chocolate salted caramel mini cupcakes for up to 2 months. Set them on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer until the frosting is frozen solid. Then, transfer the cupcakes to an airtight container or freezer bag. Let them thaw at room temperature before serving.
More Mini Dessert Recipes
- Mini Chocolate Chip Bundt Cakes
- Irish Cream Brownie Bites
- Mini Cinnamon Crumb Cheesecakes
- Lemon Chess Tartlets
78 Comments on “Chocolate Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes”
…I guess I really have nothing else to say. Just, wow.
Mmm, those look delicious. Salted caramel is the best.
Oh these look so yummy. I love the salted caramel, it is a delicious find. Hoping I have time to try this recipe soon. Love your blog!
Welcome back! The cupcakes look delicious…mmmm….salted caramel.
Welcome back. The cupcakes look fantastic.
I miss having you around, because you ALWAYS find the best recipes 🙂 🙂 This one looks like a winner for sure! I’m going to try it soon! Already bookmarked
wow. these look AWESOME! Definitely bookmarking this and trying this. Choc-Caramel. nothing can go wrong with this combination.
thanks for this! love your blog! (: added u to my links!
Chocolate and caramel taste just that much better with a little salt. And here you have it all in one recipe! Delicious!
OH MY GOODNESS!
Just that picture of the cupcake with all that sea salt sprinkled all over is making me woozy. They are beautiful.
Too funny – I was just thinking about you yesterday! Glad to see you back. The cupcakes look awesome.
Mmm, those look delicious. Salted caramel is the best.
It’s good to see you back and with such a drool-inducing recipe!
These look delicious. I love the pretty sprinkling of sea salt-I can just taste the salted caramel.
Amazing… The salted caramel and chocolate combo sounds divine. Glad you’re back!
Me ha encantado la receta, la hare aunque tengo que usar un traductor, me ha parecido maravillosa…besos
Oh these are gorgeous…just fab! I love the flavour combination! Beautiful pictures too! welcome back…
oh my… love your virtual image!! amazing mix of pic’s!!
regards from sweden & agneta
They just look georgous!!
MMMMMMMMM,…true master pieces!!
If I ate these, I would think I died and went to chocolate heaven–yummy! I would sprinkle some crushed salted pretzels on top for extra crunch/salt!
Boy am I glad you’re back! I was almost dying of lack of inspiration! 🙂
Cupcakes look ready to bite into! I can almost imagine the sweet rich ganache with crunchy flecks of salt. mmmm.
Glad you’re back! I have been missing your inspiration.
What a great way to come back. These cupcakes look amazing – great eye candy.
Mmm, chocolate. Mmm, caramel. Mmm, salt.
I’ll take your word that the labor on these cupcakes is worth my while. These not only look delicious, but are guaranteed to make my girlfriend happy, as she seems convinced everything tastes better in “tiny” form. I’m sure these will be no exception.
yep, salt, chocolate & caramel that is about perfect for me.
i love the combination of salt and chocolate, and your and this cupcakes look soooo delicious, very well done!
cheers from london,
Salted caramel chocolate cupcakes? Yes please! Now if only there were a way to keep me from eating them all in one day…
Hi! What a wonderful chocolate salted mini cake ! But I do love your nut one!
Gorgeous and sounds delicious!
I love all things with chocolate and caramel and just found out how delicious the flavors are combined with different types of salt. Gorgeous cupcakes! I have the Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook and will have to dig the recipe out and give these a try.
Oh this looks so fantastic! Salted caramel in the middle of a cake. YUM! I am just like you when it comes to cupcakes.. I too don’t have the patience for icing, but just made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing for my blog anniversary. Lved the cream cheese frosting.
I think divine just about sums these up.
these look heavenly…check out my baking blog at cookteen.blogspot.com!
Cupcakes sound delicious.
Wow, those look amazing. Definitely going on my to-bake list!
These are absolutely fantastic! I have the book,too!
I am speechless! haha Got nothing to say! It looks like heaven!
oh me oh my. those look so incredibly good i wish i could take them right off the screen! YUMMM!! i just found your blog and love it! i am going to make these no doubt!!
I made these today. They were unspeakably delicious. I had some left over salted caramel from the “Sweet and Salty” cake that I made from the “Baked” cookbook. I used Rosie’s chocolate fudge icing from Rosie’s Baking Book. Super easy and excellent recipe: Melt 4 oz unsweetened chocolate ( I use the microwave on 50% power to melt chocolate). Let cool slightly. Put a small can (5 oz, or 3/4 cup) evaporated milk + 1 cup of granulated sugar in a blender. Blend for 2 secs. Add the melted chocolate & blend on high for about 1-2 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes. Use for frosting. It wasn’t quite enough frosting for the whole batch of cupcakes, so you might want to multiply the recipe by 1.25.
These do look and sound utterly fantastic! I’ve never tried the salted caramel thing, but I think I’m going to have to give these a whirl. I might have to breakdown and get that MS cupcake book too!
I made these cupcakes today, and they were pure deliciousness. The guests we made them for claimed that they were the best cupcakes they had ever tasted! I only have two cautions for people who make them in the future:
1) I put 1 1/2 tsp. salt in the caramel instead of the 2 1/2 tsp. instructed in the recipe, and it was still very, very salty. I would recommend adding the salt incrementally and tasting in between.
2) When I added the cocoa/water mixture to the frosting as directed, it changed the frosting consistency to liquid; maybe I did something wrong, but the frosting would have been plenty rich and chocolatey without it.
These look scrumptious! I just found your website but I will be visiting often. Your pics are stunning and the recipes look amazing! I can’t wait to try these cupcakes out!
I had cupcakes on the brain today. My daughter’s birthday is coming up! These look wonderful and a little bit more grown up to celebrate 13 with!! Yum!
Those look amazing! Such great pictures too. I will definitely try to make these soon 🙂
Had these last weekend and they were amazing. Salt and chocolate is a perfect marriage!
Lovely cupcakes. The chocolate cake part looks so moist and mouthwatering! Nice images.
Wow looks so yummy! I love it! Thanks for sharing this one.
I wish I could bake them more often but I don’t have the time for all the prep-work… and thank God there’s no bakery who makes good ones close to my house… i would be addicted to them!!!
Nice nice !
Any way to cut the work down by converting this into a 13 x 9 cake version?
Hey, Katie, I sent you a message about this. Enjoy!
I tried this recipe (and I have even images to prove it!) and they are amazing. Worth a try for sure, they were a huge hit in my house! Takes a loooot of time and patience though…
Just wanted to let you know I posted about these cupcakes! Me (along with EVERY person who tried them) are obsessed! They are absolutely divine, thanks for the recipe!
I don’t have a mini muffin pan–can I make these as regular sized cupcakes? If so, how long should they bake for and how much caramel filling should I put in each cupcake?
Thanks very much!!
Nisha, you can certainly use a standard muffin pan. You’ll need to add a few minutes to the baking time. I’d probably test them for doneness after 18 minutes. The caramel filling needs to fill the hollowed-out cupcake pretty much to the top. The amount you’ll need will depend on how much cake you remove from each one. I’ve never made them in standard pans, but I would guess you’d need at least a tablespoon of caramel filling for each one. In any case, you’ll need the same total amount the recipe makes.
Where is the recipe? I don’t see it. they look delicious!!
michelle, I’m currently changing how recipes are displayed here at Bake or Break. It’s a work in progress! Previously, there was a link to the recipe above the top photograph. I’ve now added the recipe on this page, and it is printable from here. Enjoy!
I will definitely be making these. I’ll probably end up making chocolate butter cream for the topping though. These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!
No cupcake liners and under a time crunch I made cake recipe in a 9 x 13 pan. Poked holes in the cake with a wooden spoon right when it came out of the oven and poured warm salted caramel over the top. Frosted the cake once it was cooled! It was great!
Very good I think really
Im making this right now and super confused about the frosting as I see one of the other comment-ers was. It is really liquid. I followed the recipe exactly and was surprised to see how little powered sugar is in it before I started. Can you help, did I do something wrong? Thanks!
Hi, Marie. I have double-checked the recipe, and it’s correct. If you didn’t make any changes, I’m not sure what the problem is. Maybe your butter was too soft?
These were a hit at my office – I love these (and your site). However, I thought they were plenty rich without the icing. Granted, I made it, and it was delicious. However, I wanted to eat more than one mini cupcake, and with the icing, I would have only been able to handle one. Still DELICIOUS, nevertheless.
As for the frosting, mine was liquid at first. I think that’s because I didn’t let the melted chocolate chips cool enough. Within 15 minutes of sitting, though, it hardened into frosting.
Thanks for yet another hit recipe!
I see where you sent someone a message as to how to make these in a 9 x 13 pan. Could I possibly have a copy? These look fabulous and I would love to make a cake version.
Hi, Carol. I think the cake itself is fine for a 9″x 13″x 2″ pan. The assembly will have to be different. I would either pour the caramel over the baked cake and let it set, or poke some holes in the cake and then pour the caramel over it in the hopes that some of it would soak into the cake. Then, just use the frosting on top. You could also make this Sweet and Salty Cake instead. The flavors are similar and it’s designed to be made as a layer cake.
I’m not sure if I am missing something and i never made a salted caramel recipe, but i dont see any caramel in the recipe. is there supposed to be?
Hi, Alicia. You make your own caramel for this recipe. It’s the filling portion of the recipe.
Ooh these look awesome! They would be perfect for my son’s birthday. Thank you for sharing:)
Yup, just like clockwork, 3pm rolls around and I crave chocolate. Though I usually almost always crave it, I always find I need it most in the afternoon. This recipe just caught my eye and I’m adding it to my list of things to make. They look incredible! Thanks for the share! -Rebecca
oh wow, that hidden caramel is amazing!
These look amazing. Have you ever tried to use invert sugar in baked goods? I keep reading recipes online that use it and they say that it makes cakes much more moist and decadent. I’ve made the invert sugar at this point, but haven’t been brave enough to try it in any recipes.
Could I use a store bought chocolate cake mix? Thanks!
Hi, Sarah. The cupcakes are just chocolate cake, so you can use any kind of chocolate cake you like.
The cross section picture of cake looks so mouth watering. Going to try this the coming weekend.
This cupcake will satisfy and chocolate craving.
Wow, that looks amazingly delicious! Can’t say I’ve had a caramel filled cupcake before, but I will definitely try one now, that’s for sure!
By the way, I really like your photos and the nice touch with the coarse salt on the table. 🙂
Wow wow wow….The cupcakes look fantastic.
I’m going to try it soon.