Recipe: Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Re-invent the classic coffee cake

Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting



I love making cupcakes. I love picking out the cupcake liners. I love thinking about the next kind of cupcakes I will make. I love making cupcakes more than I love eating them. I love making cupcakes more than most things in life. Except for Rupert.

So, Coffee Cake.

Coffee cake is a bit misleading because it doesn’t actually taste like coffee…it’s just called that because people generally eat it with a nice cup of java. This is one of those things like when the Brits say they’re having tea, but they really mean they’re having dinner.

Typically, coffee cake is a single layer cake flavoured with things like cinnamon and nutmeg, and is topped with either a streusel or brown sugar. My grandma used to make this recipe for her kids, and I’ve been making it since I learned to bake. I used to make it for my uncle’s birthday every year until he passed away.  But recently we celebrated his son’s birthday and I decided to keep with tradition.


Crumble-Topped Coffee Cake


1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


3 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups cold coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350 F. Makes 24 Cupcakes.

  1. For the topping, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons oil in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl.
  3. In stand mixer, beat eggs until pale and thick (about 10 minutes). Stir in 1/2 cup oil, coffee, and vanilla.
  4. Make a ‘well’ in the middle of dry ingredients. Add egg mixture all at once, stirring until smooth. Don’t over-mix.
  5. Divide evenly into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full.
  6. Spread the brown sugar topping evenly over the cupcakes. Use a toothpick to swirl it through the batter.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Note: If you’re just making the cake, I recommend putting the brown sugar mix on top. But for some of the cupcakes, I put 1 tablespoon of batter into the liners, then the topping, then another tablespoon of batter on top–I did this because I knew I’d be frosting them, so this way you get the sugary deliciousness in the middle.

Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and oil. Set aside.

Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl and whisk together.

In stand mixer, beat eggs until thick. Add cold coffee (hot coffee will scramble your eggs), vanilla, and 1/2 cup oil. Beat on low until combined.

Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture in, stirring just until combined.

Fill liners about 2/3 full. These cupcakes rise a lot, so unless you want muffin tops, just be careful about overfilling.

Place about a teaspoon of topping onto the cupcakes. Swirl it around with a toothpick or small knife. Or hide the sugar in the middle of your cupcake by first placing a tablespoon of batter into the liners, then the topping, then another tablespoon of batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when the tops bounce back when lightly pressed.

Don’t want to bother with the slings and arrows of outrageous frosting? Don’t. These gems taste great on their ownsies.


Salted Caramel Buttercream

I should mention that salted caramel buttercream requires you to make caramel, which may cause you to cry, which is okay because tears are salty and you will be making salted caramel.

It’s really not that hard. You don’t even need a candy thermometre. Just, for the love of god, don’t decide to do a load of laundry while you wait for the sugar to boil. You will set your house on fire.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Leave the caramel in your saucepan and set aside to cool while you make the buttercream. This is Swiss meringue, but you can make any kind of frosting you want and add the caramel in after.


1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar


Note: Butter and egg whites must be room temperature

  1. With hand mixer and in a separate bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy.
  2. In a double boiler, combine sugar and egg whites, whisking constantly until warm to the touch and the sugar is dissolved (you shouldn’t feel any sugar granules if you rub the mix between your fingers).
  3. Pour egg white mix into stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Keep mixing until the mix is completely cool (just feel the bottom of the bowl). About ten minutes.
  4. Reducing speed, add butter a little bit at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  5. At this point you’re ready to add your caramel. If it’s gone hard, place the pan back on the burner, but only on low setting. Stir until it’s softened up enough to drizzle into your frosting, but not so that it’s boiling hot.
  6. With mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the caramel in and beat until fully incorporated.
  7. I found the frosting tasted too buttery, so I added icing sugar to sweeten it up. You may find you don’t need any, however.


Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I made more caramel to drizzle on top and served on a cake stand that I also made from an old candle stick. If you choose not to make the frosting, feel free to drizzle caramel on the cupcake anyway.

Overall the reviews were good and the salted caramel went super well with the brown sugaryness of the coffee cake. I felt the cake was dense enough that the buttercream didn’t stand out as too buttery. I’m just one of those people who dislikes a buttery frosting. In this case I could have gone back for seconds and thirds had there been any left.

Cheers and happy baking!


One thought on “Recipe: Coffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

  1. I may these today. I doubt they will last until tomorrow because my family will eat anything I make/bring home like a school of piranha. Next time I’m going to make the frosting and cry into it while I make caramel as suggested. Keep it up Dani.

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