Salted Caramel Sauce
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup water
12 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter
1 cup room temperature heavy cream
1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)
Add the sugar and water to a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. The sugar will begin to form clumps, but that’s okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye on it. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F.
As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk again to incorporate.
Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour it into your favorite glass jar and let it cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. You’ll want to warm the sauce before using.
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup salted caramel sauce
4 cups powdered sugar
Optional: red food coloring (for pink frosting)
Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.
To finish, pipe frosting onto the top of each cupcake (or use an offset spatula to spread the frosting), drizzle with some additional salted caramel sauce, and sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel.
Optional: If you would like pink frosting, mix in a few drops of red food coloring as you mix the ingredients.
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup salted caramel sauce
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Mix remaining wet ingredients in a bowl. Add dry ingredients and salted caramel sauce to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups. Fill each cup ¾ full, and bake for 25 minutes.
Set rack with cupcakes over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut a cylindrical wedge out of each cupcake and fill with 1 tablespoon of chilled salted caramel sauce. Cut the bottom off of the wedge and replace the “cap” of the cupcake over the caramel sauce. Frost and drizzle with Caramel sauce.