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Fitness, nutrition and lifestyle blogger from the pacific northwest.

Weekends are for Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cupcakes

Weekends are for Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cupcakes

I CrossFit. I count macros. I also bake. In my mind, all of those things fit together perfectly, but for some, I should probably clarify. I bake these delicious treats, and then I eat them responsibly. In moderation. I give most of them away.

So, without further ado, feast your eyes on these . . . 

Salted Caramel Cupcakes, my friends. My sister actually turned me on to this recipe from Made in Mel's Kitchen some years ago.  I've made them a few times now, with consistent results each time. And by consistent, I mean, consistently amazing.

The first time I made these, however, I did not read all the way through. So in case you are like me, I am going to point out three things up front: 

1. Melt down two sticks of butter RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW. Put them in the fridge. If you're even shorter on time, put them in the freezer. You will get deep into the directions for this recipe and realize it requires the butter to be melted and then brought back to room temperature. You can imagine my reaction when I was in the middle of this recipe and had only hours to go until the grand opening of our CrossFit gym! Actually at that point, I stuck the butter on the balcony because it was winter time, and I prayed it would cool as fast as possible.

2. You can BUY the caramel that is required for the icing. So I'm reading along, ingredients, instructions, yada yada yada. MELT THE SUGAR AND WATER UNTIL IT TURNS DEEP AMBER, MIX WITH CREAM AND VANILLA TO MAKE YOUR OWN CARAMEL.

My sister is like, my baking Yoda. Ringing in my ears are her horror stories of attempting to make homemade caramel. In fact, at the first making of these cupcakes, she has yet to succeed at making caramel, and now I know I am totally going to fail. But I have even less time until our grand opening, so I put on some gansta rap, AND HANDLE IT. And when I am done, I read on and see the next instructions...OR ALTERNATIVELY, YOU CAN BUY A JAR OF YOUR FAVORITE CARAMEL SAUCE FROM THE STORE. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? But I just successfully made my own, so I take a deep breath and continue.

Which method you choose is up to you. 

3. If you like a lot of icing (as I do), make a double or 1.5 batch. A single batch left me with six bare cupcakes. Let me tell you, people do not fall all over themselves to eat bare cupcakes. 

Now, with those three very important instructions out of the way, the rest of this recipe becomes a piece of cake. <--See what I did there?

Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the  brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add dry ingredients, and mix on low until smooth. Fold in pumpkin puree. 

    Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

    Makes ~ 18 cupcakes.

    Source: Adapted from MarthaStewart.com.

    Salted Caramel Buttercream

    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 stick salted butter
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 cups powdered sugar

    In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable. Alternatively, you could use just under 1/2 cup of your favorite caramel sauce.

    In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

    Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).  Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.  If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny.  If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

    Source: Slightly adapted from SprinkleBakes.com.

    A couple of things on icing.

    I already recommended making extra if you're going to use decorative baking tips to ice the cupcakes. 

    I do not recommend refrigerating. I've done this before and it changed the consistency so much that it tasted like caramel flavored butter afterwards. Ew.

    Also, this icing is pretty unstable. Do not make more than two days in advance of your event. Even by day two, the icing will begin to destabilize slightly and sweat out the caramel.

    I like to sprinkle mine with a couple of large salt crystals per cupcake before . It looks pretty and enhances the flavor.

    For decorative icing, use Wilton decorating tips. You want metal, size large. I've tried medium and plastic and it took forever to try and press the icing through the tips. Most regular grocery stores will offer a 12 piece box comes with everything you need, plus instructions. Easy peasy--the photos for this post are my first attempt using these so proceed because you've totally got this too. The tip used in these photos is 2D.

    You're welcome. 

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