Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

I am delighted to have one of my bloggy buddies here today to share a recipe with you that has my mouth watering!  I fully plan to make these for our next dinner party.  Take it away, Jess:  

Greetings Thinking Closet Readers! I am Jess, half of the crafting and baking team over at Sweet Athena. Lauren has graciously invited me to do a guest post for you all today. Let me just start by saying I am super pumped. As you know (because you read her blog), Lauren is one talented lady. It is therefore an honor to get to meet her awesome readers and say “hi.” Heya!

Jess from Sweet Athena

Jess from Sweet Athena

Over at Sweet Athena we like to mix things up by adopting a new theme each season, building recipes and tackling craft projects to fit each topic. Winter was all about celebrations and we were lucky to have Lauren party with us. March marks the time to say “hello” to our new theme, a focus on food. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to get to share a recipe with you all.

Lauren mentioned that she thought she had lots of readers that were busy moms and working professionals who enjoyed cooking, but might not have a lot of time to devote to the kitchen. I hear ya. I’m currently in graduate school and I really do feel like my time can be scarce. Buuuuuut, it is still fun to whip up something that will wow your friends and family. I therefore bring you today: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes by Sweet Athena

The combination of chocolate, caramel and salt is all the rage right now (and for good reason!), so I wanted to put together a recipe for you that looks impressive, but is not as time consuming as it appears.

To start, I want to talk about the chocolate cake recipe I suggest. It’s vegan. Wait—don’t stop reading. I know for many that might seem a bit strange, but hear me out. In my time as an undergrad I was in a community service group that was constantly having baking sales. Talk about work. However, I went to a very hippie school with lots of vegans and quickly learned that if I made a vegan chocolate cake, it was the first thing to sell out because it was the only option for some people. What I love about it is that the ingredients are always in my cupboard. It is the simplest chocolate cake you could make. But don’t worry, it’s still delicious. I chose to share it here because it’s not the sweetest cake, but very moist and pairs well with the indulgent frosting and caramel sauce. Plus, I like to think it’s a bit healthier. Vegan chocolate cake: totally worth your time. Read on to learn how to put it all together.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes by Sweet Athena

Vegan Chocolate Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt).
  3. Mix in another bowl all wet ingredients (oil, vinegar, water).
  4. Combine wet ingredients into dry bowl, mix until smooth.
  5. Bake cupcakes typical amount of time, about 12 minutes for mini-cupcakes

Salted Caramel Filling

Sauce and frosting slightly adapted from 6 Bittersweets.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp salt (table salt, sea salt, or fancy-pants fleur de sel will all work)


  1. Combine sugar, water and honey and stir on low heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Put heat on medium and allow mixture to cook for about 10 minutes. The sauce will not turn caramel because honey was used instead of corn syrup.
  3. Take sauce off burner and add cream and immediately stir as it bubbles.
  4. Add butter and salt.
  5. Let cool to room temperature. Mixture will store well in fridge until needed.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Sift together dry ingredients (cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt.)
  2. Use an electric mixer to cream butter.
  3. Rotate between adding the wet and dry ingredients into mixer. For a thicker frosting add more powdered sugar, for a thinner frosting add more cream.


  1. Poke a hole in the middle of each cupcake. I used the wrong end of the spoon to create my indention in the cupcake.
  2. Spoon a small amount of caramel cream into each hole. You don’t need a lot of sauce, but will want to gauge the amount based on the size of the cupcake. The best way to figure out the ideal caramel sauce-to-cake ratio is to assemble cupcake and try it. Darn! Being a baker is such hard work.
  3. Frost cupcake.
  4. Sprinkle with just a touch of either table salt, sea salt, or fancy-pants fleur de sel.

Extra Tips:

  • Double line cupcakes as an extra precaution since you are loading them with caramel sauce.
  • If you are making mini cupcakes, you can double the cake batter recipe if you want to make sure to use all of the caramel sauce and frosting.
  • These work well to make a day ahead of time, as the caramel flavor soaks into the cake. Yum.
  • If you are making the cupcakes for the next day, wait to sprinkle them with salt until right before you serve them.
  • If adding a caramel filling feels like too much work, drizzle a little sauce to the top of an already frosted cupcake. Anyone you serve this bite-sized decadence will still love you.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes by Sweet Athena

Thanks for letting me get to share a recipe with you all. Feel free to say “hi” in the comments section or over at Sweet Athena. I would love to get to know you (it’s one of the best parts about blogging, right!?).  We have plenty more yummy recipes to share if you are interested. Lately we have been talking about how to master the lazy macaron, learning to make new cocktails and feeling a little classier by roasting a whole chicken. If cooking is not quite your thing, we also have adventures in sewing, crafting, and photography.


Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    These look and sound delicious (great that they are vegan), but what makes the cupcake chocolate/dark? Am I missing something or did I misread? Heading to your site now!

  2. Thalita says

    Holy delicious goodness! This makes me very excited for making some Easter goodies!!! Thank you so much for sharing. My husband LOVES salted caramels, so I can only imagine the look on his face when I make these. Ah! I can’t wait!! Checking out your blog for sure Jess!

  3. says

    Uh, can I just say, YUM!!!! Look delicious! Also, here’s a ‘WOOT WOOT’ to the photographer! I love the photos (if the previous sentence before didn’t make that clear).

    Happy Wednesday!
    – Dusty.

    • says

      Just spent like 20 minutes soaking up the goodness on your blog. Dusty, you have such a sweet spirit and that emanates in your posts and comments and even your photos. And yes, aren’t Jess’s photos AMAZING in this post? Major props to her. And major props to you for the amazing images you’re able to capture on your phone. I’ve decided that you’re a phone camera wizard. It’s a fact.

  4. says

    yummy! you got me at “salted caramel “”CHOCOLATE”” ” ha!ha! these look delicious and will be trying this vegan chocolate recipe this week! I love, love chocolate but they say vegan is healthier right? so, I will give it a try! I will also be trying the chocolate buttercream frosting :-) thanks for sharing this recipe :-) I will go and visit “sweet Athena” now! :-)

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