These moist chocolate cupcakes are filled with homemade bourbon salted caramel, then topped with caramel buttercream, and drizzled with more chocolate and caramel!
They're a rich, indulgent treat for chocolate and caramel lovers alike!
Why You'll Love These Cupcakes
- Filled with homemade bourbon caramel - you'll be amazed how easy it is to make your own caramel sauce!
- Salted caramel buttercream - this sweet and salty caramel buttercream is the perfect compliment to the chocolate cupcakes!
- Moist chocolatey cupcake base - these chocolate cupcakes are moist, fudgy, and full of rich chocolate flavor!
- Super easy to decorate - all you need to make these cupcakes beautiful is a drizzle of chocolate and caramel!
- Vegetable oil - I use oil instead of butter in these cupcakes to help keep the cake super moist and delicious! You can also use canola oil or a neutral olive oil.
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cupcakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Cocoa powder - My absolute favorite cocoa powder to use in my baking is the King Arthur Flour Triple Cocoa Blend! It's a blend of natural, Dutch, and black cocoa and is perfect for any baking. But you can easily substitute unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa instead!
- Espresso powder - This is optional, but I love how espresso powder enhances and deepens the chocolate flavor! King Arthur is my favorite brand of high quality espresso powder!
- Bourbon - This is optional, but I love adding just a little bit of bourbon to the cupcakes, caramel, and buttercream! It just adds a little bit of extra flavor that is SO GOOD!
- Flaky sea salt - Since both chocolate and caramel are super sweet, flaky sea salt cuts the sweetness for a balanced sweet and salty combo! I love using Maldon Flaky Sea Salt because it has the best flavor and texture.
- Salted caramel - I prefer to use my homemade salted caramel to fill the cupcakes!
I've included how to make salted caramel in the recipe card below, but you can also check out my full post for how to make homemade caramel for more details and step by step photos!!
The complete list of ingredients and amounts is located in the recipe card below.
How to Make Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and eggs.
Then whisk in the sugar and bourbon until smooth.
Gently mix in half the dry ingredients. Then add in the milk and the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter will be thin.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.
Let the chocolate cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
Use a cupcake corer to remove the center of each cupcake, then fill with 1-2 teaspoons of cooled salted caramel.
Frost the filled cupcakes and then drizzle with melted chocolate and salted caramel, and sprinkle with a little extra flaky sea salt.
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cupcake Decorating Tips
For chocolate cupcakes, I like to use these chocolate brown cupcake liners for a more seamless look!
Make sure you let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!!
Use a cupcake corer to easily remove the center of your cupcakes before filling with salted caramel.
For these big beautiful frosting swirls on these chocolate caramel cupcakes, I use the 1M tip from this decorating kit. The tips are much larger than standard sizes and so fun for decorating cupcakes!
After frosting, garnish with melted chocolate, homemade salted caramel (make sure the chocolate and caramel are also fully cooled before topping) and an extra sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
These cupcakes are best eaten the same day, but will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days once assembled. However, they taste best when served at room temperature! I like to let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.
I personally prefer homemade salted caramel, but you can use your favorite store-bought caramel sauce if you prefer!
Your homemade salted caramel will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month!
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like!
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Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup salted caramel
- 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, as needed
- I highly reccomend making the salted caramel the night before the cupcakes so that it has time to fully cool.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and stir every 1-2 minutes or so until it begins to melt (the sugar will start to clump up before melting).
- Once the sugar is completely melted and smooth (it should be an amber color), immediately remove from the heat and stir in the butter until combined (don’t be scared if it bubbles a lot).
- Add in the heavy cream, bourbon, and salt and mix until fully combined and smooth. It won't want to combine at first, but just keep stirring and it will come together.
- Pour the caramel into a heavy glass jar to cool to room temperature. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a month!
- If you make the caramel the night before, it can sit covered at room temperature overnight so that it's a nice pourable consistency.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and eggs.
- Then whisk in the sugar and bourbon until smooth.
- Gently mix in half the dry ingredients. Then add in the milk and the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
- Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.
- Let the chocolate cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth.
- Add in the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until fully combined and smooth.
- Set the mixer to low speed and slowly drizzle in the salted caramel until it's fully incorporated into the buttercream. Then add in the bourbon and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until the buttercream is super light and fluffy.
- If needed, add in cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
- Melt the dark chocolate and let cool almost to room temperature. It should be melted but cool to the touch. I prefer to melt the chocolate in the microwave in intervals of 20 seconds, stirring each time.
- Use a cupcake corer to remove the center of each cupcake, then fill with 1-2 teaspoons of cooled salted caramel.
- Frost the filled cupcakes and then drizzle with melted chocolate and salted caramel, and sprinkle with a little extra flaky sea salt.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.