Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

by Melissa on October 22, 2010

Remember when I shared these Pumpkin Cake Truffles with you? Well, this is the cupcake recipe that I created them from! I made these cupcakes, along with the Apple Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream, for my husband to take to work back in September and both of them were a huge hit with is coworkers.

I have already told you how much I love the cake part of these cupcakes, so I want to tell you a little about the buttercream. If you have never tried salted caramel buttercream, you are truly missing out. Put off whatever baking plans you have this weekend and make these cupcakes instead! Even if you don’t like pumpkin, you could make this buttercream with chocolate cupcakes, or even the apple cupcakes I mentioned above. It is that good!  And don’t be intimidated by making your own caramel, it is very easy. Just be sure to watch it very closely, and don’t get distracted by your fussy baby, clingy toddler,needy husband wonderful family. :)

Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the  brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add dry ingredients, and mix on low until smooth. Fold in pumpkin puree. 

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes ~ 18 cupcakes.

Source: Adapted from MarthaStewart.com.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable. Alternatively, you could use just under 1/2 cup of your favorite caramel sauce.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
 
Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).  Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.  If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny.  If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 
 
Source: Slightly adapted from SprinkleBakes.com.
 
Note: I used a Wilton 1 A large round tip to frost these cupcakes and the cupcake liners are from KingArthurFlour.com.
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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie October 22, 2010 at 8:47 am

Oh no! I did NOT need another recipe to put caramel buttercream on. This is going to put me over the rich, sweet, salty edge.

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Melissa October 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I <3 caramel! :)

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megan @ whatmegansmaking October 22, 2010 at 9:01 am

Beautiful cupcakes! I was just about to ask what tip you used when I saw your note. Thanks for including that – I’m trying to work on presentation in my baked goods. :)

Saving this post – I’m so glad I found your blog, you’ve already given me so many things I want to try!

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Melissa October 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm

What are you talking about?! Your baked goods all look great!
I’m glad you found my blog too! :)

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Dana October 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I love all this pumpkiny goodness! And the salted buttercream frosting is a definite bonus!

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Melissa October 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm

The salted caramel buttercream makes this cupcake, it is so good!

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Nikki (Pennies on a Platter) October 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Beautiful cupcakes! Picture is gorgeous and the frosting is perfect!

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Melissa October 24, 2010 at 8:21 am

Thanks Nikki!

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) October 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I am printing this now :-) You rock.

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Melissa October 22, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Your comment made my day! Thank you! :)

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Peggy October 23, 2010 at 6:50 am

Oh my gosh these cupcakes sound so delicious! I love the salted caramel buttercream! I bet it pairs well with the pumpkin!

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Melissa October 23, 2010 at 7:01 am

Yes, the flavors go really well together. Although, I think salted caramel buttercream could make just about anything taste good!

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Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread October 23, 2010 at 7:18 am

LOVE the sounds of this buttercream!!! Great cupcakes!

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Melissa October 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Thank you!

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Dina October 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm

salted caramel buttercream sounds divine!

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Melissa October 24, 2010 at 8:21 am

Ooohhh it is!

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Jenn@eatcakefordinner October 24, 2010 at 12:16 am

That buttercream looks so creamy and delicious. I was just thinking about making pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate frosting, but I will definitely have to make this salted caramel buttercream instead! Love your pictures.

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Melissa October 24, 2010 at 8:13 am

Yes, definitely try the salted caramel buttercream!

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Kerstin October 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Wow, the buttercream sounds amazing and perfect with the pumpkin cupcakes – yum!!

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Kristin August 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I just got done making these cupcakes and I must say – they are delicious!! A must-have cupcake for the fall season!

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Joy August 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm

When you say add butter and salt do you mean both the salted and unsalted butter and the sea salt?

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Melissa August 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Yes, both sticks of butter and the sea salt!

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amy @ fearless homemaker August 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

i went to a Let’s Bring on Fall party yesterday + asked my readers for some good recipe ideas in one of last week’s posts. one of them suggested these cupcakes + i made them, + brought them to the party last night. they were a HUGE hit, so thank you! i could eat that salted caramel buttercream all day long. =) if you don’t mind, i’ll do a post on them in a month or so (with credit to you, of course). thanks again!

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Melissa August 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Of course! I am so glad everyone liked them! I love, love, love that buttercream and can’t wait to make these cupcakes again soon!

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amy @ fearless homemaker September 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

just put up a post about these an hour ago + it’s already getting a great response – i have a feeling it’s going to be a popular post! =)

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Rachel August 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I’m an amateur baker, at best, and I don’t have a mixer with a paddle attachment. Could I mix the buttercream some other way and still have it come out ok?

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Melissa August 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Do you have a handmixer? That would work as well, it will just take longer! :)

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Merissa Smith August 31, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I am trying to make these now, and I have a question. When making the frosting, I waited until the sugar/water combo was a deep amber color, then slowly added the cream and vanilla as stated. It instantly turned rock hard. What am I doing wrong?

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Melissa August 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Hmmm… I am not sure, maybe try putting it back on medium heat and whisking it? Sorry, I wish I could be more help!

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Merissa Smith August 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Thank you! That worked perfectly. =)

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jodi September 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

just made these…working on the caramel myself and mine also seized when I added the cream. gah! hope it turns out. the cupcakes are out of the oven and taste yummy (yes, I already tasted). thanks for sharing the recipe, Melissa!

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Susanna September 13, 2011 at 12:10 am

I made these tonight. The cupcake part was undeniably one of the most delicious pumpkin desserts I have had. I was a little disappointed with the frosting, it was just too salty. I ended up doctoring it with at least another half cup of frosting, and more caramel sauce, along with a healthy dose of vanilla. I wonder if I am the only one with this issue? I think I would have to amend the frosting or use another recipe next time but the cupcake part is bravo delicious!

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Melissa September 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Glad you liked the cupcakes! Personally, I love the buttercream and could happily eat it everyday! :)

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Melanie September 20, 2011 at 4:00 am

Im so excited to try these tomorrow. I just have one question is the butter fir the frosting supposed to be room tempeture before beating? My handmixer has trouble beating cold butter. Thanks for posting this! Looks delish!! :)

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Melissa September 20, 2011 at 9:47 am

Just let the butter warm up to the point where your mixer can beat it. If the frosting seems too soft to put on the cupcakes, just refrigerate it for a bit! :)

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Margaret September 25, 2011 at 10:13 am

I made these yesterday to take to a picnic and they were so delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe. My first time with the caramel sauce turned rock hard too but I did it again and waited till it just started to turn amber then took it off and added the cream. This seems to work wonderfully. Thanks again!

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Tiffani September 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I made these yesterday and I have to thank you and curse you at the same time. Thank you because they are absolutely delicious, and curse you because I want to eat them all!! ;)

P.S.
I linked to your recipe on my blog, thank you so much for sharing!!

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Ali October 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

I just made these (in mini cupcake form) for a friend’s party that I’m going to later. The cupcakes are delicious, but the icing is to die for! I saw someone’s comment that they thought the icing was too salty. I love the salty sweet combo and I actually grinded a little more sea salt on top of the cupcakes once they were frosted.

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Carly Taylor October 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

Hey! Wow, looks delicious and the frosting is impeccable. Great photographs.
I was bitten by the same “pumpkin” bug… And wanted to let you know that I am must rounding up a series called “The 12 Days of Pumpkin” and am hosting a recipe link up here to find some recipes to be in a pumpkin cookbook! Seems right up your alley… Head on over if you’re interested in feeding your pumpkin obsession or have a recipe to submit :)

Carly

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Rea October 8, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I was wondering how the buttercream holds up. Can I make it a day in advance? Would it ship okay? Thanks! I’m really excited about them :)

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Melissa October 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

You can make the buttercream in advance, you just may need to whip it again before frosting the cupcakes. As far as shipping, the buttercream needs to be refrigerated, so I wouldn’t ship them! :)

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Lindsay October 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Did anyone get more an 18 cupcakes?

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Melissa October 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I think a several people have, but you should still have enough icing. I am going to make these again and update the recipe! :)

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Dena October 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I did! I made the real mini ones and got about 24 of them and had enough icing for the 18 big ones and the 24 minis! EVERYONE LOVED THEM! Great recipe!

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Tsmom October 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I just made these for my daughter’s birthday party tomorrow. I think they are the best thing I’ve ever made, scrumptious!

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Tammy October 23, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Hi Melissa. i am making a fondant covered wedding cake and the bride wants a caramel frosting filling for one of the layers. i wanted to ask if you think i would have to refrigerate this because is has heavy cream in it or if i could sub the heavy cream for something else. i prefer not to put my fondant covered cake in the refrigerator because of the condensation when you take it out. thanks!

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Melissa October 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I completely understand with the fondant, but I don’t think you would be able to leave this frosting out of the refrigerator. Sorry!

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Jaime October 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I just made these today. They weren’t as good as you made them, I can tell, but they were very seasonal and fun. I’d never tried the caramel thing before and my kids loved watching it turn brown! Thanks :)

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Zoila @ Squared Party Printables October 25, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Do you think this frosting would work for frosting a pumpkin shaped cake?

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Melissa October 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I do, and that sounds really cute!

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Jackie October 29, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Hi!! I found your blog through pinterest and these cupcakes look FABULOUS!! I actually made caramel sauce a few days ago so am planning on using that! Do you know how much caramel sauce the above recipe makes for the buttercream? I wanted to make sure I got the proportions right. Thanks!!

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Melissa October 31, 2011 at 8:11 am

It makes just under a 1/2 cup of caramel sauce, I have also updated the recipe above. I hope you like them!

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Jackie October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Thanks so much Melissa! I appreciate your help. These were tasty and delicious! People LOVED the frosting:)

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Zoila @ Squared Party Printables October 31, 2011 at 8:21 am

Our pumpkin cake using your recipe came out absolutely fabulous. People couldn’t stop raving about how good it was. Thanks for the recipe! Here’s a photo of our cake.
http://www.hwtm.com/index.cfm?page=albums/view_album&albumid=2990&categoryid=30

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Melisa May 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I just wanted to let you know that I have made this recipe several times (oh, ok… try HUNDREDS), and everytime I do, I am assaulted by people trying to steal them!! They are SO DELICIOUS!!! Thank you so much for posting it… it is my #1 favorite cupcake recipe (or ANY recipe for that matter) of all time. xoxoxoxox

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Tatyana August 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm

These cupcakes look amazing. not a huge fan of pumpkin pie stuff but this recipe looks great and the salted caramel buttercream sounds amazing. love salt and sweet together.

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Ciji Ann August 26, 2012 at 10:02 am

Hi,

I really love this recipe & am making it for my class this weekend. I love that you put in your recipe ways to troubleshoot should something go wrong, the tip size, where you got your wrappers, etc. The detail is really helpful! Can’t wait to try this!

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Kelly September 6, 2012 at 11:10 am

I found this recipe this summer and have been waiting until at least after Labor Day to make them. I am excited to say I am going to make them today and let my Mom’s bookclub be the judge. Can’t wait!

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Haley September 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I just made this tonight and it was amazing!! I made it as a bundt cake since I didn’t have the time to make all the individual cupcakes and it worked out great! Such a moist cake and the frosting? To die for! Accidently burnt the first round of caramel setting off the fire alarm but my second try came out perfect! Thanks so muh for this delicious recipe!

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Nikki September 29, 2012 at 7:22 am

Hi – this sounds delicious. I’m going to attempt to make this for my son’s 1st bday, which is pumpkin themed. How many days in advance could I make? Alternatively, could I freeze the cupcakes for about a week, then frost? Does the recipe work well if doubled?

Thanks!
Nikki

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Melissa October 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I wouldn’t make the cupcakes more than two days in advance, and I have never frozen them so not sure how that would work. They are a very moist cupcake, but might get “gummy” if frozen or left in the fridge too long! You could easily double the recipe. Hope this helps!

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Katie September 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Love these cupcakes!!! I didn’t have everything to make the buttercream last night but will definitely have everything to make it next time. It sounds delicious. Thanks!

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teresa October 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

This is an amazing recipe! I bake often and just tried this out and had amazing responses! Thanks for putting this out there! Will def be checking back :) Also do take her advice do not be intimidated by making your own salted caramel! It is easier then you think and you DO NOT want to miss out on these!!!!!

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dct2012 October 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm

These are so amazing! Could eat this frosting all day.

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Jessica October 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

My mom made these for my birthday and they are delicious! My husband loved the salted buttercream so much that he’s requested that I put it on everything.

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Janis October 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I just made these today and they are fabulous! I posted it on Facebook and linked to your blog, so I’m hoping all of my friends will become readers too!!!! Uber Yummy!

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Johanna October 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Just made a test batch preparing for a party in two weeks. They made more than 18, so I’ll make 24 next time. Made the cupcakes a day early and then the buttercream just now worked great the cupcakes stay so moist. thinking about topping with pink salt….

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Johanna October 8, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Too salty topped with pink salt…

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Retha October 20, 2012 at 7:14 am

These are amazing, just finished baking them for the second time. Just a note, I have gotten 24 cupcakes both times.

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Patti October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am

Thank you for an awesome recipe!!!! Just frosted them for birthday party today and they are perfect and delicious! Used jar good caramel to save time!

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Elisabeth October 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I just made this and they came out great! It made 24 cupcakes but I only had enough frosting for 18, and that was with justa small dollop. It was enough though but next time I’ll make sure I have enough ingredients for a double batch of frosting! Love them!

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Anna Marie November 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

Salt AND Caramel = winning combination! These are wonderful and oh, so rich – calorie counters beware!

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Jill November 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I made these 2 weekends in a row because they were so amazing! My husband said they are the best cupcakes he has ever had :)

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meghan November 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

I’m so happy I found your recipe. These cupcakes are fantastic! I am making them for thanksgiving, and I did a test run tonight. I messed up the frosting so I’m glad this wasn’t for Thursday! I’m gonna get it right next time because I figured out my mistake and I’ll be the hit dessert if anyone can fit more food when its served! Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

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Nofar November 22, 2012 at 4:03 am

Trying this for thanksgiving. They look so good. Will comment on how they turned out :)

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Randi November 22, 2012 at 10:57 am

On my second time making these cupcakes. They are absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to eat some later.

Thanks for the great post and recipe.
Yum

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