Thursday, June 7, 2012

Salted Caramel Cupcakes - Life Changing!

Having lived 13 years in New York City, I try to visit as often as possible.  Now that one of my best friends has moved to NYC, I have more reason to visit.  I spent this past Memorial Day in NYC visiting and we had a great time.  

Whenever I'm in the city, I have to visit as many cupcake shops and bakeries as possible. This trip was no exception. A new shop on my list is Georgetown Cupcake in Soho.  I first visited this delightful shop in March and I knew I had to go back on this trip.

The shop is beautiful and offers it's customers some very delicious cupcakes.  On this trip I wanted to try their Red Velvet which is their #1 seller.  Their cupcakes are temptingly displayed and I eyed the Red Velvets.

We perused the cupcake flavors.  My friend selected the Maple cupcake, as he's a Fall flavor kind of guy.  I was ready to order the Red Velvet when all of a sudden the Salted Caramel Cupcake began calling my name.  I was under it's spell...

I ordered the Salted Caramel.  We shared our cupcakes so we could each try both flavors.  We started with the Maple.  It had a delicate Maple flavor and was the perfect combination of cake and frosting. This was one delicious cupcake.  Next came the Salted Caramel. We each bit into our half cupcake. Sheer ecstasy. This was no ordinary cupcake. This cupcake was life changing. A light vanilla cake with a swirl of caramel topped with a salted caramel buttercream and another drizzle of caramel.  This was the best cupcake I have ever eaten at a commercial cupcake shop.  I was in heaven.  We bought another one and devoured that one as quickly as the first. We left the shop and could not stop talking about those Salted Caramel Cupcakes. I was becoming obsessed and started plotting how I could recreate this delicious cupcake once I got home.

When I got home to Utah, I pulled out my copy of "The Cupcake Diaries" by Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne the owners of Georgetown Cupcake.  I had just bought this book before my trip to NYC but hadn't even opened it before I left. I remembered that the book jacket had mentioned Recipes in the book.  
I turned to the Index with my fingers crossed and a prayer on my lips. "Dear Cupcake Gods, please let their Salted Caramel Cupcake and Salted Caramel Buttercream recipes be in this book", I silently whispered. My prayer was answered. The recipe was listed in the Index.  I immediately turned to it in anticipation.  It was all there.  The recipes for the Caramel, the Cupcake and the Buttercream.  I quickly wrote down the recipe ingredients I didn't have on hand.  
My sister's birthday was in a couple of days and her very favorite flavors are Caramel and Butterscotch. This was the perfect cupcake to make for her. The next day I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work to pick up the missing ingredients and headed home to bake these beauties.  These recipes lived up to my memories of that amazing cupcake I devoured in their Soho Shop.  So much so, that I have made these cupcakes twice in three days.  Here are the recipes and photos of my creations.

Georgetown Cupcakes Salted Caramel Cupcakes

For the Caramel
Makes 2 1/2 cups caramel

2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon water
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

Pour the sugar and water into a large saucepan.  Heat on medium high heat and stir constantly until the sugar completely liquefies.  Stir constantly and be careful not to burn the sugar.  After all the sugar has dissolved, add the butter and vanilla extract to the saucepan and mix thoroughly.  Once the butter has melted and the butter and sugar are completely mixed, remove from heat and, using a whisk, slowly whisk in the heavy cream until you reach a beautiful golden brown caramel color. Set aside and let cool and thicken for 5 minutes at room temperature.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes (or longer) to thicken further before using in the cupcake and buttercream recipes and for drizzling on the finished cupcakes.

For the Cupcakes
Makes 24-30 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (cut in half for High Altitude)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup caramel (recipe above)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake pan(s) with paper baking cups, or grease the pan with butter if not using baking cups
2.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.
3.  Cream together the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
4.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
5.  Add the vanilla extract.
6.  Slowly add one third of the dry ingredients followed by one third of the milk.  Mix slowly, and then add another third of the dry ingredients, followed by on third of the milk.  Mix slowly until incorporated.  Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed.  Then, finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients, followed by the last third of the milk.  Mix slowly until fully incorporated.
7.  Add the caramel by hand and mix slowly, swirling it into the batter, but not mixing it in completely.
8.  Using a standard size ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the cupcake pan no more than 2/3 full and bake for 18-21 minutes (start checking at 16 minutes).  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream
Enough to frost 24-30 cupcakes

1 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup caramel (recipe above), plus additional for drizzling on top

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer or to a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, and mix on high speed until light and airy.  Frost cupcakes with your favorite piping tip, drizzle caramel on top of the cupcakes. I added a little extra saltiness with a sprinkle of Fleu De Sel.  Yum!



  1. Replies
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  3. These were so good! A lot of fun to make, too! But, there was A LOT of left over frosting, we probably would have been good with half the suggested amount. Great recipe, nonetheless!

  4. My caramel did not turn out..i followed the recipe exactly and stirred constantly but even on medium it just took so long for all the sugar to dissolve that it got to dark. I had to use store bought caramel. They are in the oven now but just look like yellow cake unlike your pics. I hope the store bought works in the frosting.

  5. Randi,

    I'm sorry your caramel didn't work out. It does take a very long time for the sugar to liquify and you do need to be constantly stirring it. You also need to be careful you don't get impatient and turn up the heat to help things along. This a guarantee that you will burn the caramel (I did this on my first batch - bad move). Patience is the only thing that pays off when using this caramel recipe. I hope you give it another try.

    Hope this helps, Linda Jean

    1. when you say sugar do you mean caster sugar or normal sugar ?? please get back to me as i am making these today :)

    2. The recipe calls for white granulated sugar. I have made it with white granulated sugar and superfine Baker's Sugar (C & H Brand) which is caster sugar. Both work fine. I prefer the superfine sugar. I feel it melts easier and has less of a tendency to burn. Hope this helps. Linda Jean

  6. Thankyou so much for the caramel recipe! I made the Georgetown chocolate cupcake and filled it with this caramel, with vanilla cream cheese frosting.. so yummy!

    I have a feeling I'm going to end up making a TON of their recipes because I am in Minnesota and we don't have a Georgetown Cupcake anywhere near us.

  7. for the frosting it requires 1 pound of butter!? So 4 half sticks of butter!? really!? I haven't made the cupcakes yet but the ingredients make it seem as it would be a liquidy frosting. I'm wrong right?

    1. Yes, it does require a full pound of butter. Make sure the butter is barely room temperature, not melted. I set mine out for only 15-20 minutes to bring it to room temperature. Then make sure you really whip the ingredients. I always whip my frostings a minimum of 5-8 minutes to make sure they are light and fluffy. This is where owning a stand mixer really comes in handy. Give it a try. These are seriously some of the best cupcakes ever!

      Linda Jean

  8. These just came out of the oven and I couldn't resist trying one. Absolutely amazing! So delicious! This is the first batch of cupcakes I have ever made successfully!

    1. So happy you had success with this recipe. These really are delicious cupcakes. Keep baking and have fun!

      Linda Jean

  9. My cupcakes turned out AMAZING, but I struggled with the frosting... It is MUCH paler than yours, even though my caramel is the same color. It also broke just slightly (not full curdle but slight separation). I followed directions exactly... room temp butter and milk, caramel cooled at room temp for 5 min and then fridge for 20 min :( not sure what happened. But it turned out slightly oily and tasted a little slimy and possibly over sweet?

    1. Hi Cali,

      It is a very sweet frosting. I'm not sure what might have happened but your Butter might have been too soft. You just want the chill off your Butter. I actually take mine out of the fridge, microwave it for 10 seconds, wait 10 seconds, microwave it for 5 seconds more and then put it in the bowl of my mixer and whip it on high for 5 minutes before adding in the remaining ingredients. With all my frostings, I don't add in any additional milk or liquid until all the sugar is incorporated and I can test the firmness and pipeability of the frosting. Hope this helps, Linda Jean

  10. Hi

    I made these last night and like the cake and the frosting flavor, but wondering if you have any ideas for maintaining the frosting flavor but turning down the sweet level. I like sweet, but this is a bit overwhelming.


    1. Hi Annie,

      Thanks for your comment. I understand your concern with the sweetness. Caramel can be an overly sweet flavor and this frosting really tips the scales. I have quite the sweet tooth so I don't mind it.

      My suggestion would be to up the salt a little bit in the frosting to taste. Salt always cuts sweetness in frostings. Also you may not want to pile it on like I do. A little of this frosting goes a long way.

      I always add a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel sea salt on top to amp up the saltiness.

      Hope this helps,
      Linda Jean

      Happy Baking!

  11. Hello Linda Jean.Let me first start off by saying that this was one awesome cupcake. All 24 cupcakes was gone in half a day. I'm already on my second batch in less than 24 hours. Now for my experience... I've made caramel b4 based on another recipe and let me say compared to this recipe it was terrible. It was a long process waiting for the sugar to liquefy but it was worth it. I did find that once I added the heavy cream I had a large lump of the sugar that refused to come together but I just took it out and it still turned out wonderful. The cupcake batter was really good. I ate a cupcake w/o any frosting and it was divine. For the frosting after reading some of the reviews and ppl saying that it was too sweet I only used 6 cups of cs and I added an extra c of caramel. In my opinion the full pound of butter was a bit much for me at first ( You could really taste the butter.. hence the name) however the next day I didn't even notice. The cupcakes were a big hit in my household of 4. Thank you sooo much. Normally I don't leave reviews but this cupcake was too good not to. I look forward to making more of your recipes. Thanks

  12. Hi tried this recipe however needed to ask on some questions. I dont know why but my cake came out quite dense. Isit cause of adding caramel inside the batter? Should i cut down on it?

    Another thing is I followed ur recipe however decided to add more salt as it doesn't taste salty enough. But it was lovely nevertheless :)
    Lovely pictures!

  13. Hello Linda,
    I have a question. What do you mean "cut in half for High Altitude" when speaking about the baking powder?

    I hope to hear back soon!


  14. I had this cupcake at georgetown cupcake, and there was a lot more swirled caramel in it....i swirled my refrigerated caramel by hand into the batter, but it seems to have melted throughout the cupcake....would adding more caramel help? how else can i make sure the caramel stays swirled? thanks! it was otherwise delicious :)

  15. SOO Good! So far have passed this recipe/website along to 2 friends who insisted on making these for their own upcoming parties :) Thanks

  16. I love these ladies too and have both books too. I once made their caramel and the whisking constantly made it crystallize. Most reviled say just let sit once melted. Any ways my caramel never comes out thick with any recipe when I drizzle on top of my cupcakes. Did yours stay firm the whole time?

  17. The cake is perfect! I only kept it in the oven for 12-15 minuetes... for the caramel i used a hqlf cup of 2% milk.instead of cream and its the best caramel ive ever made!! Thanks for the recipie

  18. Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the recipe.

    Linda Jean