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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Caramel Glaze

Decadent dark chocolate cupcakes are piped with a salted caramel buttercream and drizzled in homemade bourbon caramel sauce for a delicious sweet and salty dessert.

dark chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel buttercream frosting

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes From Scratch

We recently celebrated both girls’ birthdays. Madeline and Kendall’s birthdays are about a week apart from each other, so mid-September is a little bit busy with all the preparations. I love birthday shopping for the kids though, especially the girls.

Making special birthday dinner and dessert for family and friends is basically my love language, so naturally this time of year I usually have a new recipe or two to share on the blog.

Just like last year, Madeline requested Chicken Parmesan for dinner. It is easily one of her favorite meals and I usually only end up making it a couple of times a year, so it is always a special treat for her birthday dinner. We piled our plates high with pasta and homemade marinara sauce alongside the chicken and plenty of green salad.

For dessert, she didn’t have an unique ideas like last year’s request of “chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting and please pour raspberry sauce over them to look like blood.” For the potentially squeamish, that’s Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Raspberry Sauce. They were pretty good if you ask me, but this year’s cupcake is definitely my new favorite.

Madeline said she wanted moist chocolate cupcakes again but didn’t have any flavor ideas in mind besides that. I said, Madeline, do you trust me that I’ll make something you’ll love?

Of course she does because our kids are all smart enough to know that I understand their tastes and it is pretty rare for me to make something they don’t love. Especially when it comes to dessert.

So, I decided since the Bourbon Caramel Sauce was such a huge hit with the kids that I wanted to incorporate that into the cupcake recipe somehow.

I made a regular vanilla buttercream, but then I added some of the caramel sauce to it to create a salted caramel buttercream. Then, after piping the dark chocolate cupcakes with the salted caramel buttercream, I drizzled caramel sauce over top.

Oh my gosh, they were decadent and delicious. I had to sample one as I was making them. Which was a mistake, because then I wanted to have another little taste and by the time dinner was over I was so stuffed that I didn’t even want to eat one when we actually had dessert.

Madeline, I’m so glad that you had such a great birthday! We love you and loved celebrating your birthday with you this past month. I’m so proud of how you are doing in your new school and glad that you love it so much. It has been so fun to watch you learn and grow and think back over all the progress you make year to year. Welcome to double digits!

dark chocolate cupcake topped with salted caramel buttercream frosting

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients

For the moist chocolate cupcake recipe, you’ll need:

  • Semi-sweet chocolate
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cake flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salted butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract

And to make the salted caramel buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card!

How to Make Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Both the dark chocolate cupcakes and the salted caramel buttercream are easy to make. Here’s how I made this chocolate cupcake recipe from scratch:

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the butter.
  4. Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture, followed by the buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture and milk to the batter.
  6. Divide the batter between lined muffin cups and bake.
  7. Once dark chocolate cupcakes have cooled, make salted caramel buttercream frosting and pipe onto cupcakes.
  8. Drizzle the salted caramel buttercream with additional bourbon caramel sauce.

Is There a Cake Flour Substitute I Can Use?

Don’t have cake flour? Don’t fret, you can easily make your own! I wrote a tutorial on How to Make Cake Flour that comes in handy for recipes like this.

Is There a Buttermilk Substitute I Can Use?

I’ve got a tutorial on How to Make Buttermilk, too! Although real buttermilk is preferred in this dark chocolate cupcake recipe.

dark chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel buttercream frosting

Click HERE to save this recipe for Dark Chocolate Cupcakes!

Tips for Making Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

For an even richer chocolate cupcake, substitute 1/4 cup cooled decaf coffee for 1/4 cup of the milk.

I much prefer making the salted caramel buttercream frosting with homemade bourbon caramel sauce, but if you don’t have time to make homemade caramel you’re welcome to use your favorite store-bought brand.

If desired, you can freeze the unfrosted dark chocolate cupcakes for later. When you’re ready to enjoy them, set them on the counter to thaw while you whip up a fresh batch of caramel buttercream frosting.

More Easy Cupcake Recipes:

Love chocolate cupcakes? I made these Easy Chocolate Cupcakes specifically for Valentine’s Day, but they work well for any occasion! Just switch up the food coloring you use in the frosting to suit whatever holiday you’re celebrating.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Raspberry Sauce are the perfect combo of a fluffy, light vanilla cupcake, rich chocolate buttercream, and a tangy, sweet fresh raspberry sauce.

These Chocolate Mint Cupcakes feature chocolate cupcakes with chunks of Andes Mint and a vanilla mint buttercream.

Craving a lighter dessert? Make a batch of Coconut Lime Cupcakes! Their fresh flavor is tough to beat.

Serious chocolate lovers will go nuts for these Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting. How good to those sound?!

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Caramel Glaze recipe and photo

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Caramel Glaze

Yield: 3 dozen cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Decadent dark chocolate cupcakes are piped with a salted caramel buttercream and drizzled in homemade Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon for a delicious sweet and salty dessert.

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 large Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Salted Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup Buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup Milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 3 sticks Salted Butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 - 3 pinches Sea Salt, according to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 3-6 tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • 6 tablespoons Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon, cooled completely to room temperature

For the Caramel Drizzle:

Instructions

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with cupcake cups or grease using nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 15 second intervals, making sure to stir in between. Set aside to cool down for a bit. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, until it is pale and thick. Add in the butter. Mix until combined. Add in the melted chocolate. Now, add the vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour mixture and milk in alternating increments and beat until smooth. Divide batter into the cupcake tins.
  5. Bake for 15-25 minutes (this will vary depending on your individual oven) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the confectioners' sugar while continuing to beat.
  2. Once well blended, add in the vanilla, salt, 3 tablespoons heavy cream, and the caramel. Mix on high speed until well combined and moist, periodically stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  3. If desired, an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream until your desired consistency is reached. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  4. Pipe or decorate as desired. See Two Tone Frosting for Cupcakes and Cupcake Piping Tricks for piping tips.

For the Caramel Drizzle:

  1. After piping the completely cooled cupcakes with the salted caramel buttercream, drizzle the tops with Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon, dividing the caramel sauce evenly between the 3 dozen cupcakes.

Notes

For an even richer chocolate cupcake, substitute 1/4 cup cooled decaf coffee for 1/4 cup of the milk.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 36 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 222Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 50mgSodium 301mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 1gSugar 11gProtein 3g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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Tag @goodlifeeats and include the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

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Melissa

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

Hi! Are all of your cupcake recipes adapted for high altitude? Or just the sour cream vanilla one? Thank you!

Katie

Friday 3rd of May 2019

All of the cupcakes posted I make living at 5,000 ft and they bake up just fine for me. The vanilla one I just had to make a lot of changes to the original recipe to get it to work which is why I said it was adapted for high altitude.

cakespy

Wednesday 4th of October 2017

The answer is yes. I forget what the question is, but the answer is YES and these cupcakes are that YES. :-) Do I sound enough like yoda for you? ha! Beautiful cupcakes with so many of the best flavors in the world!

Katie

Thursday 5th of October 2017

THANKS JESSIE! xo