Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Best darn cupcakes ever! My talented baker friend Melissa McLean made these a few weeks ago and I died and went to heaven when I tried it! Ok just a super loud audible sigh. Yum.  These cupcakes take some work but they are so so so very worth the effort. Thanks Melissa for sharing your famous cupcakes and the recipe!

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

(3 parts)

Caramel Sauce - Makes about 2-1/2 cups of caramel sauce

2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
12 tbsp unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream at room temp

In a large pot, heat the water and sugar over medium heat and stir stir stir until all the sugar liquifies and turns a golden brown...but be super careful not to burn it!!!! Then as soon as it's mostly liquified, add the butter and vanilla, keep stirring. Once the butter is all melted take the sauce off of the heat and carefully, slowly whisk in the cream. Then just let it cool for 10 min or so on the stove and then for 20-30 in the fridge until it cools completely and thickens up. Make sure it's completely cool before you mix it in the batter for the cupcakes. Also if you still have small chunks of sugar in it strain it through a mesh strainer while it's still warm so you have nice smooth sauce for your cupcakes without any crystallized sugar chunks in it.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
1-3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temp
2-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups of whole milk at room temp
1 cup of the caramel sauce you made.

Cream the butter and sugar together until it's fluffy. Meanwhile sift together all of the dry ingredients. Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed sugar/butter, mixing well in between each one. Add the vanilla. Then alternate adding about 1/3 dry ingred, 1/3 of the milk, 1/3 dry, etc. until everything is incorporated. Then add the caramel sauce and just swirl it in some, don't completely mix it in.

Fill your muffin cups about 2/3 full...try not to overfill them because the batter is a bit more liquidy than some other cupcake batters due to the caramel sauce, and they won't puff up on the top, they'll spread out on the top of your pan and that's annoying! 350* for about 17 minutes in my oven...start checking at 15 min with a toothpick. The tops will still look kind of wet but if the toothpick is clean, they're done. They'll firm up a little more when they cool.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
3-4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted (I use 3)
1 tsp whole milk
1/4 tsp salt (the recipe calls for a whole tsp, WAY too salty--must be a typo)
1/2 cup of that dang caramel sauce

Cream a little of the sugar with the butter just to get it started, then start adding the rest of the sugar a little at a time until it's all starting to incorporate. Add the milk, salt, caramel sauce and beat the heck out of it until it's light fluffy and DELICIOUS.
Once the cupcakes are totally cool, frost them with a piping bag or a knife, or whatever...and then drizzle some of the leftover caramel sauce on top of the cupcakes. EnJOY!