What do you get when you cross homemade salted caramel with a freshly baked chocolate cupcake and a bag of pretzels? Some sort of dessert heaven I tell you.
These cupcakes are the best cupcakes you will ever make – seriously. To start, there’s chocolate cake, so we are already winning. Then each cake is topped with silky smooth chocolate caramel frosting, along with lashings of golden caramel sauce and a handful of sweet pretzel crumbs. AKA heaven on a plate!
I have always loved caramel. Be it some sort of caramel chew, a caramel milkshake or caramel sauce drizzled on a bowl of vanilla ice cream. But when I first learnt to make caramel at home? That was definitely a turning point in my caramel obsession.
Not only is homemade caramel magnificent in colour, its taste is simply incomparable to the store-bought kind. The depth of flavour is incredible, and the smooth texture only enhances its richness.
The fact that such a wonderful ingredient can be made with only four ingredients is well, dangerous really. But watching the sugar syrup bubble away on the heat and slowly turn amber in colour is simply one of my favourite science reactions to watch in the kitchen.
I only wish my senior school science teacher knew how to teach science in baking form. I would have been a straight A student I’m sure. Forget dissecting a frog, I want to learn how to bake a cake!
So as I mentioned, caramel is definitely the star of this recipe. Not only does it give the chocolate frosting a sweet buttery flavour but it also adds texture, making the buttercream simply melt-in-your-mouth.
Of course, with all that creaminess, we needed a bit of crunch. And that’s where the pretzel crumbs come in. Delicious baked almost cookie-like crumbs that add texture, flavour and a serious crunch factor.
I adapted the pretzel crumb recipe from Christina Tosi’s recipe for Milk Crumbs. You know I’m obsessed with Momofuku Milk Bar right? Last year when we went to New York, I was going to go to a cooking class there. I was beyond excited.
Unfortunately, when we came to book it, we realised their classes were only on Saturdays and we were there Monday to Friday. I was so disappointed! So instead we ate their crack pie, drank their cereal milk and bought their cookbook. But next visit? I am SO there!
Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Pretzel Crumbs. Chocolate cake topped with silky smooth chocolate caramel frosting, caramel sauce and sweet pretzel crumbs.
- 105 grams (3/4 cup) plain flour
- 40 grams (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) caster or granulated sugar
- 45 grams (1/4 cup) brown sugar
- 115 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
Chocolate caramel frosting
- 115 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter
- 375 grams (3 cups) icing or powdered sugar
- 2–3 tablespoons milk
- 20 grams (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
- 120ml (1/2 cup) salted caramel sauce, plus a little extra for decorating
- 40 grams (1 cup) pretzels
- 70 grams (1/2 cup) plain flour
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) caster or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornflour or cornstarch
- 60 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- Chocolate cupcakes
Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) standard / 160 C (320 F) fan-forced. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with patty cases.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and then add the sugars – give it a little stir. Pop the butter into the microwave for a short burst, 10 seconds or so at a time, until it is just melted. Give it a stir with a fork to eliminate any lumps. In a separate mixing bowl, add the eggs, vanilla and butter and whisk together until smooth. Then add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, along with the buttermilk and gently fold until just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared patty cases and pop into the oven. Bake for around 18 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Set cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- Chocolate caramel frosting
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth and then add one cup of icing sugar, along with a tablespoon of milk to help loosen up the mixture. Beat until combined. Then sift in another cup of icing sugar and a tablespoon of milk. Finally, add the last cup of icing sugar, along with the cocoa powder. Beat again. The frosting should be nice and creamy. If its too thick, you can add another tablespoon of milk.
- Finally, add the caramel sauce and beat until the frosting is lovely and smooth. Place the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and frost all of your cupcakes. If you have any caramel left, you can drizzle a little over the top of your cupcakes.
- Pretzel crumbs
Crush your pretzel using a food processor, a mortar and pestle or by hand until they become fine crumbs. In a large mixing bowl, add your pretzels, plain flour, sugar and cornflour. Whisk together. Melt your butter and add it to the mixture, stirring until it forms wet crumbs. Pour this mixture out onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and spread out into one layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then leave to cool. Add pretzel crumbs to the top of your cupcakes.
Pretzel crumbs recipe adapted from Christina Tosi’s Milk Crumbs recipe.