Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Source: Grin and Bake It

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa & CHOW)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup freshly brewed, caramel flavored hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.

Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in mixer and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet. Add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into cupcake liners, fill a little less than 2/3 full.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (pic #1). Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes (pic #2). The key is not to stir it.

Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (start with a few spoonfuls), stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth (pic. # 3). Set aside until cool to the touch.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and add powdered sugar. Mix until well combined (pic. #4). Turn off the mixer, and slowly add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.

Refrigerate if not using immediately. *

*If you refrigerate the frosting, be sure to whip it up with your mixer before spreading.

**To frost cupcakes with the swirl (1M tip), you will need more frosting than the recipe makes, double it.