Vanilla Almond Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream

I must confess….I’ve never been a huge fan of frosting.  Not on my cookies, not on my cakes, and not even on my cupcakes.  I know, I know…I’ve posted plenty of recipes on here piled high with a variety of lovely and delicious frostings, but almost always whenever I actually sit down to eat it, I only (maybe) leave on a tiny dab.  It’s just never been my thing….

…..until now.

Oh. My. WORD.   I had absolutely no idea that such deliciousness could exist, until I decided to test out this caramel frosting recipe on a whim while planning for the Cupcake-A-Thon.  I had wanted to give it a try because it called for making your own homemade caramel, which I had never done.  (And as a sidenote — was way easier than I imagined!  Super speedy, and didn’t even have to use a candy thermometer!)  But I was not prepared for the rich, sweet, buttery, and caramel-y perfection that resulted in the end.  Absolutely amazing.

I guarantee that — especially when paired with this wonderful almond-vanilla cupcake — it will knock your socks off. Don’t even blink an eye at the extra 10 minutes it will take to make the homemade caramel.  It’s 500% worth it.  (And you can make it in the time the cupcakes bake – piece of cake ;))

So cheers to the “icing on the cake”!!!  I believe this officially marked my first time ever licking the frosting bowl clean.  My mother would be so proud.  :)

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

You'll love this Vanilla Almond Cupcakes w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream Recipe that results in sweet, almond-y butter-y caramel-y perfection.

Ingredients:

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 (18.25 oz.) white cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Frosting Ingredients:

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

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Add the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, almond extract and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed. Increase speed to high and beat until thick and fluffy, 2 minutes longer.

Pour or scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

To Make Frosting (pics above and below):

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (just start with a tablespoon or two), stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. (Be careful, as the mixture will definitely bubble up and possibly splatter a bit as you add in the cream.) Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.

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 to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then 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 (or to harden the frosting a bit).

 

***To frost 24 cupcakes as I did (pictured above), I’d recommend making a double batch of the frosting. But if you’re just spreading it on with a knife, one batch should be plenty! :)

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Ali’s Tip:

Keep a close eye on the caramel as you make it!  It goes from clear bubbles to the “amber” color within about 30 seconds, and then will burn pretty quickly thereafter.

Also, if you absolutely, absolutely don’t want to make the homemade caramel, you can substitute in some caramel topping to put into the buttercream instead.

Leave a Comment:





Comments

  1. Erin — August 12, 2011 @ 11:37 am (#)

    What kind of frosting tip did you use for the above picture?

  2. meredith — August 21, 2011 @ 11:28 am (#)

    Hi! omg I can’t wait to try these. How much caramel does the recipe make? I will probably end up having to use the substitution caramel, but I’m not sure how much to put in. Please and thank you!

    <3 meredith

  3. Sasha — August 27, 2011 @ 11:34 am (#)

    I strongly recommend cutting the almond extract in the cake (possibly the vanilla bit haven’t tried it myself yet) and the vanilla in the frosting in half. The super strong almond flavor in the cake overshadows the awesome frosting and cutting the vanilla in the frosting let’s the caramel and salt shine a bit more, the vanilla softens the impact a bit (I accidentally made the frosting this way the first time and much prefer it to the “corrected” second batch I made). Note: I’m speaking in reference to double batches as I piped the frosting and followed the direction to double the frosting if doing so.

    If you’re having problems with your caramel hardening it’s because the whipping cream is cold. You should have the butter, cream, buttermilk and eggs out at room temperature before mixing. This allows for proper incorporation of ingredients and keeps your caramel from solidifying.

  4. Rachel — August 31, 2011 @ 3:03 pm (#)

    Holy Yummy Goodness Batman!! Thank you soooo much for sharing this! I haven’t even iced my cake yet, but I could sit down with the whole bowl!! lol I had to make the caramel twice because I burned the first one. Lesson learned….have ALL of your tools and ingredients right there. It burned when I turned around to get a measuring spoon. It took maybe 8 seconds, tops. I will say though, in the beginning it looked like the frosting could use some water. I put a towel over my bowl so powdered sugar wouldn’t go all over my kitchen, and the icing is still really thick. I may add just a bit of water.

  5. Linda S. — October 27, 2011 @ 3:05 pm (#)

    I just wondered where the salt in in this salted caramel icing?

    I am at a loss as to how much and where to put it? On top of the icing, a few sprinkles might do of coarse salt? Please if you have a chance let me know! thanks so much! It sounds divine!

  6. Linda S. — October 27, 2011 @ 3:07 pm (#)

    ahhh perhaps the salt is in the butter? is that the only salt needed? and if so…if I use unsalted butter, which I have on hand, how much should I put? thanks!!

  7. Jenny — November 5, 2011 @ 11:48 pm (#)

    I made these and topped with toasted almond and dusted powdered sugar for a baby shower. OH. MY. GOD. Easily the best cupcake I’ve ever made. Perfect.

  8. Corinne — November 12, 2011 @ 5:26 pm (#)

    Based on the comments, I made a double batch of the icing, but I made a triple batch of the caramel (i.e., 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup cream), and that added extra caramel flavor without compromising the thickness of the frosting. I never have cake mix on hand, so for one dozen I made the ginger pear cupcakes (at the Cupcake project blog, using the sour cream cake version) and the second dozen I made the basic sour cream cupcakes above, but added 3/4 tsp. almond extract (since the birthday request was for something “almondy”). I also used powdered sugar and toasted almonds to decorate. This is now in my top 4 favorite frostings. My tummy hurts from licking the bowl. Oh, and follow the instruction of previous commenters to warm the cream up first!

  9. Barb McKinney — November 15, 2011 @ 4:12 pm (#)

    I was going to purchase thirty of these for a baby shower but when I found out it would cost $90.00 from our gourmet bakery-I decided to give it a try myself. They were fabulous! After I piped on my frosting-I drizzled a little of the caramel on top for added decoration. My family could not tell the difference and now I am ready to make them for the shower!

  10. Lingting — November 20, 2011 @ 10:06 pm (#)

    I’m thinking of using this caramel frosting recipe for cupcakes at an upcoming wedding and i was wondering how it’ll hold up for a couple of hours in slightly warm/humid conditions. Is this a pretty stable kind of frosting, or would it start losing its shape after a while?

  11. Melissa @ Best Friends For Frosting — January 4, 2012 @ 5:42 pm (#)

    Plan to try this over the weekend for a baby shower. Cannot wait!

  12. Brooke — January 12, 2012 @ 9:07 am (#)

    Holy Cripes! This is the most fantastic thing EVER! Super simple to make the caramel! I will never buy caramel again. For real. I had to stop myself from just pouring it down my throat piping hot. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS!!!

    I’m using this on a chocolate cake and I don’t want the buttercream to be too sweet, so I made a second batch of caramel that I will drizzle on top of the filling to pump up the flavor, but also add some interest.

  13. Melissa @ Best Friends For Frosting — February 1, 2012 @ 12:23 am (#)

    This is one of my favorite cupcake recipes ever. I am working on a blog post about it now. Thank you so much for allowing me to discover this. It’s sure a keeper. I love you for this. XO

  14. Helena — May 8, 2012 @ 2:42 pm (#)

    Tried this recipe yesterday (doubled the icing as suggested) with the intention of bringing it in for a co-worker’s birthday. Can’t believe how simple it was to make and how delicious it turned out! Definitely will never use store-bought caramel again! Thanks for a great dessert:)

  15. Christina — July 25, 2012 @ 2:08 am (#)

    love this! I’m doing it with honey instead though because I’m lazy (it gets to the soft ball stage faster) and honey salted caramel sounds better to me.

  16. Melissa — November 21, 2012 @ 7:54 pm (#)

    hey there! I absolutely love your blog and all of your recipes. I actually just got done making the pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting :) Anyways, do you have a video or tutorial that you know of that will teach someone to pipe frosting like on these cupcakes?

    Thanks,
    Melissa

  17. Gaile Hughes — April 1, 2013 @ 7:58 am (#)

    Hi, sounds delish, however it does say ‘salted caramel frosting’, can’t see the amount of salt to add – I realise you are using salted butter (as I do), but it doesn’t make it salted caramelly – thanks Gaile

    • Erica T — April 24, 2013 @ 4:08 pm (#)

      I believe it is meant to possibly sprinkle with course sea salt. (lightly) I am going to dye the salt a baby blue. I did this last time and it was sweet and savory. I typically don’t eat what I bake but I made these as mini cupcakes and decreased baking time to 10-12 mins and I ate nearly 1/2 the yield.

    • Kaity — July 2, 2013 @ 5:42 pm (#)

      It’s been a while since this was posted, but for future reference, you would use salted butter to make it salted caramel flavored.

  18. Christina — May 8, 2013 @ 2:51 pm (#)

    Hi!! I’m looking for a frosting recipe that needs to be refrigerated that tastes like ice cream. I’m lookin to recreate a cupcake I recently had at a bakery. She said it was a Crisco cream frosting. It does melt and does no taste good even if left out for a little while. Best cold for sure. Very thick looked like ice cream because of the tip she used. Can you also tell me what tip that might be? My daughter is graduating soon and I’d like to make the cupcakes myself.

    Thanks!!!!

  19. Anjula — July 3, 2013 @ 8:02 pm (#)

    This is one of the few things I make that my husband actually requests. They’re so yummy!

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