Chocolate Cupcakes with Salty Caramel Frosting

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Have you ever had a dream where you need to be somewhere important, but you just can’t get there? Perhaps you have to take a final exam, but in the dream you find yourself at the mall shopping and then remembering you missed the exam.

You jump in the car, but you can’t fit the key into the ignition and you panic.

Or you have to be at the airport early in the morning, but you can’t get packed. No matter how many times you go into your closet, you can’t get the clothes into the suitcase, and if you do make it to the airport, you have no ticket.

These dreams are frustrating and anxiety producing because you can’t get to where you need to be.

This is how I have felt in the past ten days. I needed to be here sharing my food with you, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. I lost posts. My camera didn’t work. My food was a failure on the sunny days and great on the days it was too late and too dark to capture. And, in between any cooking, there were medical crises and unexplained injuries. But I missed you and it feels like I have woken up from a bad dream, and I’m back, happy again and in my kitchen on a sunny day.

From the second we are born, we are fighting to keep our life a life worth living. Today, I celebrate one such life that I cherish above my own.

Happy Birthday to the man that knew marrying me would guarantee him a life time of “me” and some really good food. I think I got the best deal in this marriage, because his personality is like sweet vanilla pudding. Mine is a lot more like these cupcakes. The chocolate is very loud (made with espresso), the caramel frosting is complex, and the salty is salty. We are, indeed, a different kind of sweet, but this just may be the secret to our happy marriage.

The inspiration comes from salty caramel hot chocolate, D.C.’s favorite hot drink. It’s taken me over a year to perfect the caramel frosting and get the taste I was looking for while getting his approval along the way. He is not a cook, but he is a wonderful editor.

I warn you that it’s sweet and gooey and best eaten when hungry. It might be the only meal you will need. D.C. prefers salty peanuts on top, but I like just the caramel frosting with sea salt.

You can use any chocolate cake recipe you prefer. This is made with espresso and dark chocolate and presents as aa good balance for the caramel frosting. Cupcakes can be all grown up and sophisticated when the flavors are deep, rich and you wrap them in fancy paper wraps.

After a perilous week, the party was on, and last night we enjoyed a feast with a houseful of friends.
Tomorrow is Retro Rose’s 75th birthday. This week, I’ll be featuring some party tips and recipes, the cake I made for her and some notes on sipping tequila. You don’t want to miss sipping tequila.

Making Caramel
Dark amber-colored caramel is the secret. You must be wiling to take the chance and allow it to get dark enough. Don’t be intimidated by the process. Once you’ve burned a few or took it off the stove too early, you will start to understand what you’re looking for. There is no such thing as playing it safe, because premature caramel will just be sugary and have no flavor.

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cream (room temperature)
  1. Cook on medium heat without stirring, until the sugar turns a deep amber.
  2. Take off heat, pour in cream, stir.
    It will bubble up, and this is the fun part. Eventually, as you stir, it will transform into caramel.
  3. Cool completely at room temperature.

Be warned though, caramel is hot, so don’t try a taste test, until thoroughly cooled. Ask me how I know?   

Caramel Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Caramel from above recipe
  • 2  tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and more for sprinkling for top
  1. Cream butter and sugar and cream with electric mixer on medium speed.
  2.  Add caramel, continue to mix until smooth.

Frost cupcakes. Top with Sea Salt or chopped peanuts.

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Chocolate Cupcakes

Dark rich chocolate cake, good for layer cake or 18 cupcakes.
Servings: 12


  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup espresso
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream


  • Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Set Aside.
  • Mix espresso and boiling water. Dissolve cocoa in espresso/water.
  • Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  • Add to this sour cream and dry ingredients, alternating and finishing with dry.
  • Add chocolate mixture.Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes for cupcakes, 30-35 minutes for cake.
  • This will make two 9” cakes or up to 18 cupcakes, depending on size.

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If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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