Vegan salted caramel cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting

Sometimes you're just sitting around on a weekend and you want some cupcakes for the week. Am I right? These whip up quickly, and with the use of Miyoko's vegan butter (my absolute favorite), you'd never know the buttercream is dairy free.

Caramel may sound a little intimidating, but it's actually very simple. Here, we do a dry caramel, which is sugar just heated in a saucepan until it starts to melt and then caramelize. When you add some warm nondairy milk, you get a luscious, nutty brown nectar that gives these cupcakes their caramel flavor.

Ingredients (makes 10):

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup cane sugar

1 cup + 1 tbsp nondairy milk (I used oat milk)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

For the frosting:

1/2 cup vegan butter (I prefer Miyoko's in this recipe)

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp nondairy milk from making the caramel

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

  3. In a small saucepan, heat your nondairy milk over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. Then, reduce the heat to very low to keep the milk warm, but not boiling.

  4. In a separate saucepan, heat the cane sugar over medium heat. Do not disturb for about 3-5 minutes, then start shaking the pan. When you see that the sugar is starting to melt, use a heatproof spatula to start stirring the sugar around constantly.

  5. Continue to stir the mixture constantly, until it is a liquid and has turned a light brown caramel color. For me, this took 7-8 minutes, but it will depend on your stove.

  6. Optional: Remove a few spoonfuls of caramel and drizzle over parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet to make decorations for your cupcakes. The caramel will harden very fast, so work quickly, just removing a spoonful and quickly drizzling it over the silicon baking sheet.

  7. Once the caramel has reached your desired color, pour the warm milk into the caramel, stirring constantly. Do not panic if pieces of the caramel start to harden. Keep the mixture over low heat and stir constantly until everything is dissolved, and it looks like the image above.

  8. Add the 1/2 tsp kosher salt to your caramel-milk mixture and stir to dissolve. Reserve 1 tbsp of the milk for the frosting.

  9. Add the remaining caramel-milk mixture and the melted coconut oil to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.

  10. Divide the batter into 10 standard cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Bake at 350 F for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

  11. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. Add the 1/2 cup (or 1/2 package of Miyoko's butter) to a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl and use electric beaters or beat by hand). Mix the butter on low, then medium, until light and fluffy.

  2. Add the first 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and continue mixing until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of reserved caramel-milk mixture from making the cupcakes. Mix until well combined.

  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until each addition is fully incorporated.

  4. Place the frosting in a ziploc bag or piping bag. If using a ziploc bag, snip the corner off of the bottom to pipe frosting over the cupcakes. Alternatively, spread the frosting onto each cupcake using a butter knife.

  5. Optional: Break apart the caramel decorations you made earlier and place a shard on top of each cupcake.

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