“Real South” Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Real South Salted Caramel Cupcakes-2

 

For years, I’ve wanted to master the perfect Southern Caramel Cake.  Betty Irving, who makes the best caramel cake in West Point, Mississippi, won’t give me her recipe.  She just tells me that the secret is the heavy cream.  And the decade that we spent in the Chicago area was virtually caramel cake-less due to the fact that it just didn’t exist in that part of the country.  What fun it was to discover, upon arrival in Winston-Salem, NC, that  I could order a delicious three-tiered caramel cake from Cherries Cafe in Lewisville any time we wanted.  So that’s what we did for birthdays and special occasions until 2006 when Cherries Cafe published a book of recipes that included Ollie’s Caramel Cake.  Hurrah!  Problem solved, right?  Not so fast… Here is what it says at the bottom of the page, “Note: This is a great old-fashioned cake but a bit difficult to make.”  My attempts were tasty enough…. but sloppy and lopsided, real “cake wrecks” if you will.

The recipe below is my solution for satisfying the caramel cake lovers in our family and it has been a huge success.  I use a tried and true yellow cupcake recipe formula from noted pastry chef Gail Gand, the caramel icing recipe from Cherries Cafe Secrets, and a healthy pinch of flakey sea salt which takes this desert to a whole new level.  Cupcakes, being infinitely easier to frost with the warm, candy-like icing, were the answer.  Now we have a family argument over how many cupcakes constitute a serving.  I say one, and I’m confident that I am correct.  Others insist that 2 cupcakes equal one slice of a traditional layered cake.  You be the judge.

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For the cupcakes:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

3 cups sifted cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2, 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

In a mixer fitter with the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue to whip.  Add the vanilla and gradually mix in the eggs, one by one, until well combined.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and ending with the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter in to the prepared pan, filling each slot three-quarters full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cupcakes are puffed, firm in the center , and light golden brown on top.  Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

For the icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 (16 ounce) package brown sugar

1 (16 ounce) package confectioners sugar, sifted

flakey sea salt, such as Maldon

Bring the butter, cream and brown sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan.  Boil for 5 minutes or until thickened and the sugar is dissolved, stirring often,  Pour carefull into a large bowl and add the sifted confectioners’ sugar immediately.  Beat until creamy and smooth.  Let the icing cool slightly.

To frost the cupcakes:

Remove the cupcakes from the pan.

The icing should still be warm but firm enough to just barely drip over the edges.  Do a test on one cupcake and when it is the right consistency, go ahead and frost all the cupcakes fairly quickly before the icing hardens. (a small off-set spatula works well here)  Sprinkle each with a healthy pinch of the flakey sea salt as you go so it will adhere to the wet icing.  Let icing set before serving.  Makes 24.

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20 responses

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Best Recipes with Caramel

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Best Recipes with Caramel - Top Inspired

  3. I can’t seem to find the flaky sea salt. Do you think coarse or ground sea salt would work, as well? Thanks for this recipe. Batter is fabulous! Cupcakes see in the oven now.

    • Kosher salt will work well. A small pinch of sea salt will do the trick perhaps, taste wise. I would be careful with coarse ground salt…some brands would be too crunchy and overpowering. Hope it goes well…favorite cupcakes around here!

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