Dark chocolate salted caramel cupcakes. Truly my favorite of all the cupcakes I’ve ever made.
I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for sweet and salty foods for many years. When I was in college, I worked at the local candy store and we got to eat pretty much whatever we wanted from the candy cases. One of my favorites then: chocolate covered pretzels. For just as many years, my favorite ice cream flavor was Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby. When chocolate covered potato chips were briefly a thing, I was a fan of those as well.
Then came along salted caramel. Salted caramel might just be the best sweet and salty combination of them all. Chewy caramels covered in dark chocolate and sprinkled with fleur de sel (from Trader Joe’s, I think) came first for me; then last summer I got to try Jeni’s Salty Caramel ice cream. I liked that so much that I ate it 3 days in a row.
Finally, a few weeks ago, a Twitter acquaintance posted a tweet about wanting to stop by her local bakery to see if they had any dark chocolate salted caramel cupcakes. I pretty close to immediately responded to her tweet and asked for details about this cupcake. What was in it? Was it topped with frosting? How good was it? And so forth. Her answers gave me more than enough information to recreate this cupcake on my own at home.
Less than a week later, I did just that. If you like salty and sweet things like I do, you’re going to want to do the same right about now.
Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
To make them at home, you’ll need 4 components on hand: fresh, completely cooled chocolate cupcakes, caramel sauce (preferably homemade), chocolate ganache and some fancy sea salt.
For the chocolate cupcakes, any chocolate cupcake recipe you’re familiar with will do. I really like the One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes found in a few different Martha Stewart publications including her Cupcakes cookbook.
I recently posted a recipe for homemade caramel sauce. I highly recommend that you use this recipe if you don’t already make caramel sauce from another source.
For the dark chocolate ganache, I have to admit that I don’t really use a recipe. But when I made this batch of dark chocolate salted caramel cupcakes, I did the following: I simmered 1 cup of heavy cream over medium heat, then I whisked in about 8 ounces of really dark Ghiradelli chocolate chips and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of chocolate liqueur. I whisked it all together until the chocolate completely melted and the mixture was smooth. Then I let it cool for about an hour, until it was thick enough to spread on the cupcakes with a spoon…but not so thick that it didn’t drip just a little once on the cupcakes.
I happened to have some nice French fleur de sel around for the salt part of these cupcakes. Any good, flaky sea salt should work for this.
Just for reference, I made 24 regular sized cupcakes. If you make the full batch of caramel sauce, you’ll have lots left over. Half a batch should be more than enough if you don’t want extra. The ganache I described above was ample for the cupcakes with very little left over.
To assemble the cupcakes, cut a small piece out of the center of each cupcake. Mine were probably close to an inch in diameter and about the same depth. I think they sell fancy cupcake coring contraptions but all I used was a small paring knife. Insert the knife at a slight angle to core the cupcakes. Once you do it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and it goes quite quickly. Since you’ll be filling these cupcakes, cut the bottom of each core piece off just a little bit so that there will be room for it to fit back into the cupcake once it’s filled with caramel sauce.
Spoon or pipe caramel sauce into each cupcake. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the caramel in each cupcake. Cover each cupcake with the pieces you removed earlier. If the pieces don’t fit perfectly, it’s okay as the ganache will cover up any imperfections.
Spoon or spread a generous bit of chocolate ganache onto each cupcake and sprinkled another pinch of sea salt on top of the ganache. Note: If the ganache hasn’t set enough, it will drip all over the place. If this happens, wait for the ganache to set a little more and proceed to eat the messy cupcake immediately.