Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

These chocolate caramel cupcakes are made using my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, stuffed with a homemade salted caramel filling and frosted with a milk chocolate ganache, more salted caramel sauce and a pinch of flakey sea salt. 

Why you’ll love these chocolate caramel cupcakes

  1. A very quick and easy chocolate cupcake recipe, homemade salted caramel sauce that is so much better than store bought and simple milk chocolate ganache make these cupcakes as indulgent as cupcakes get. 
  2. If you don’t want a full batch, you can use my small batch cupcake recipe as well and just make half a batch of frosting and caramel sauce.
  3. They’re perfect for your valentine or all the chocolate lovers in your life and that sea salt on top *chefs kiss*

I also have a chocolate caramel cake! And for more chocolate desserts, my chocolate ganache cake is a fan favorite. It can also be made using my 6 inch cake recipe (halve the recipe for the ganache). 

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Oil: any neutral oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, etc. will work. 
  • Sugar: I use granulated sugar in my cupcakes and I don’t recommend substituting it or reducing the amount.
  • Vanilla: I use extract in this recipe.
  • Eggs: always use large, room temperature eggs. Place them in hot water for 5-10 minutes if they’re cold.
  • Flour: I usually use cake flour for cupcakes but for chocolate cupcakes, I just use regular all-purpose flour. Either works fine.
    • ​​I also HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is almost always over measured. 
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: I use both since there’s a little coffee in the cupcakes – if you skip the coffee and use hot water, you can do just 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and no baking soda.
  • Salt: salt brings out the flavor in all baked goods. I like using fine sea salt for baking and topping with flakey sea salt.
  • Coffee: I use a homemade Americano but brewed coffee, cold brew or instant coffee are fine. Water also works.
  • Milk Chocolate: I use Nestle or Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips but any type of milk chocolate works fine.
  • Cream: I use heavy whipping cream to make the ganache. If you’re looking for a percentage, I recommend 36-40%.
  • Caramel: I HIGHLY recommend homemade salted caramel sauce. There’s truly no store-bought caramel that is the same or close to as good. 
    • I increased the amount of butter in this caramel sauce recipe to make it slightly thicker so it doesn’t drip off the cupcake too much.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Salted Caramel Sauce

STEP 1: Heat the water and sugar on the stovetop until it turns into an amber color. Remove from the heat.

STEP 2: Add the butter and whisk until it’s combined. Then add the heavy cream and whisk until it’s smooth (if the edges of the pan have crusty sugar, leave that behind, don’t try to whisk it in). 

STEP 3: Pour the caramel into a heat safe bowl and add the salt and vanilla, whisking just until they’re combined. Cover and allow to cool completely to room temperature or chill in the refrigerator. 

Chocolate Cupcakes

STEP 1: Make the chocolate cupcakes by whisking together the dry ingredients with the sugar. 

STEP 2: In a large bowl whisk together the oil, eggs and coffee until it’s all combined. 

STEP 3: Sift the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and whisk just until it’s fully combined and smooth.

STEP 4: Scoop cupcake batter into 13-14 lined cupcake tins – they should be ⅔-¾ full, about 50-55 grams of batter; (the 1-2 extra can wait if you only have one muffin pan).

Chocolate Ganache

STEP 1: Heat the heavy whipping cream on the stove, in a small pot, over medium-low heat until it comes to a simmer.

STEP 2: Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and cover for a few minutes.

STEP 3: Use a whisk or a fork to mix the chocolate and cream until it comes together and is completely smooth. 

STEP 4: Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature until it’s completely set. 

Assemble

STEP 1: Use a cupcake corer or just a knife to cut a hole in the center of the cupcakes. 

STEP 2: Fill in the hole with the salted caramel sauce – make sure the caramel is completely cooled when doing this. 

STEP 3: Pipe the chocolate ganache on top and top with another drizzle of salted caramel sauce and flakey sea salt. 

FAQs

What kind of milk chocolate to use?

I just use Nestle or Ghirardelli chips but any milk chocolate is fine. 

How to get that perfect dome on the cupcake?

My secret to perfect cupcakes is my digital scale! If you overfill or under-fill the muffin pans you may get a cupcake with a muffin top or a shriveled sunken cupcake but if you weigh them, you’ll get it right each time (at least with my recipes). Each cupcake should hold 50-55 grams of batter. 

Can I make these cupcake dairy free?

You can use dairy free butter, dairy free milk/cream to make these cupcakes. 

Can I make these cupcakes gluten-free?

I have not tested my cupcake recipes but all my cake recipes work well with a 1:1 gluten-free flour like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour. 

How do I know when cupcakes are done baking?

The cupcakes are done baking when they no longer look wet in the center and you gently press on the tallest area of the cupcake and it springs back. If it feels wet and stays pressed in, give it another few minutes before testing again.

How to serve and store chocolate caramel cupcakes 

Serve the cupcakes fresh or leave them at a cool room temperature for 1-2 days. 

To refrigerate, make sure to cover the cupcakes with a cake dome or store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

To freeze it, place them in an airtight container and then place the container in an airtight bag. Thaw at room temperature before serving.  

If you make these chocolate caramel cupcakes, I would love it if you left me a review or a star rating! 

As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

chocolate cupcakes filled with salted caramel sauce and topped with chocolate ganache

Chocolate Caramel Cupcake Recipe

Bernice Baran
These chocolate caramel cupcakes are made using my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, stuffed with a homemade salted caramel filling and frosted with a milk chocolate ganache, more salted caramel sauce and a pinch of flakey sea salt. 
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 33 minutes
Course Cupcakes
Cuisine American
Servings 14 cupcakes
Calories 414 kcal

Ingredients
  

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) water
  • 1/2 cup (120mL/4oz) heavy whipping cream room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp (84g) salted butter room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled 
  • 1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dutch process), spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (120mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180mL) hot coffee brewed or Americano; hot water also works

Chocolate Ganache

  • 2 cups (12oz) milk chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup (160mL) heavy whipping cream
  • flakey sea salt

Instructions
 

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Place the sugar and water in a medium size heavy bottom sauce pan. Swirl the pan until the sugar is immersed in water. Place the saucepan over medium heat and allow the sugar to fully dissolve in the water, gently swirling the pan every minute or so.
    1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, 1/4 cup (60mL) water
  • Bring the sugar and water to a simmer and reduce the heat to a medium-low. Place the lid on the pan and allow the mixture to simmer until the color begins to darken to a light amber color, this should take about 10 minutes. Make sure to remove the lid and check the color at least every minute.
  • You can gently swirl the pan every couple of minutes but DO NOT STIR IT WITH ANYTHING. If there are crystalized pieces of sugar on the sides of the pan, the steam running down from the lid should dissolve them but if it doesn’t, you can use a pastry brush wet with water to brush them away or leave them.
  • Once the sugar is a dark amber color, remove it from the heat. Stir in the butter until it’s melted, then add the heavy cream, whisking until the caramel is smooth. If there's crunchy bits of sugar around the edge of the pan, leave them there don't try to whisk them into the caramel sauce.
    6 Tbsp (84g) salted butter, 1/2 cup (120mL/4oz) heavy whipping cream
  • Pour the caramel sauce in a heat proof jar and stir in the salt and vanilla extract. Allow it to cool until it’s not piping hot, about an hour. Refrigerate until the caramel is set. 
    1/2 tsp fine sea salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • If you’ve never made caramel sauce, make sure to read my whole post on homemade salted caramel sauce

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F/177C convection (325F/163C conventional) and line 14 muffin tins with cupcake liners (or 12, the batter for the other two can wait).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
    1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar , 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • In a large bowl whisk together the oil, eggs and coffee until they're well combined.
    1/2 cup (120mL) vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup (180mL) hot coffee
  • Sift the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients and whisk just until they're completely combined and smooth.
  • Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3-3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes. When you press on the center of the cupcake it should spring back.
  • Remove from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Ganache

  • Place the milk chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
    2 cups (12oz) milk chocolate chips
  • Place the heavy whipping cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer (bubbling all around the edge), a few minutes.
    2/3 cup (160mL) heavy whipping cream
  • Pour the cream over the chocolate and cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap for about 5 minutes, so the chocolate melts.
  • Use a rubber spatula, whisk or fork to gently stir the ganache until they're completely smooth.
  • Cover again and allow it to cool completely to room temperature (this can take a while). You can refrigerate to speed up the process but make sure to stir it every 5-10 minutes so it cools evenly.

Assemble

  • Use a cupcake corer or just a knife to carve a hole in the center of the cupcake.
  • Use a spoon or a piping bag with a small opening to fill the cupcakes with the cooled salted caramel sauce.
  • Use a piping bag fit with a large round tip to pipe the chocolate ganache on top of the cupcake.
  • You can either drizzle some more salted caramel sauce on top or create a divot on top of the ganache with a spoon or offset spatula and spoon the salted caramel sauce in the center. Top with flakey sea salt.
    flakey sea salt

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 414kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 3gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 256mgPotassium: 167mgFiber: 1gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 480IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 1mg
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