Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes

I haven’t been posting much the last few weeks, but I’ve been doing my best to simplify so I could recover from my surgery.  But if any recipe will make it up to you, it has to be this one! 
Unless you don’t like chocolate… and if that’s the case, are you serious? Or is that just something people say but don’t mean?  I’m guessing so. : )
The original recipe stated to serve the same day, but I found these were just as good for 3 or 4 days.
These are seriousely rich, and definetely special occasion type of cupcakes in my opinion, since we prefer lighter desserts and save richer ones for holidays and such. 
These would be perfect for Valentines Day, and make enough to share with a big group as well.
CHOCOLATE SALTED-CARAMEL MINI CUPCAKES
FOR ASSEMBLING: sea salt, optional
CUPCAKES: (makes about 56 mini)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 T vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup warm water
In a large bowl, whisk together the four, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water. 
Mix with a hand mixer on low until smooth and well combined.
Line mini muffin tins with paper liners and divide batter among them, filling about 2/3rds full.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then remove from tins to cool completely. 
(Can be frozen at this point for up to 1 month.)
DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING (Makes about 5 cups)
1/2 cup plus 1 T cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 T boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Mix the cocoa and boiling water together in a small bowl, stirring until cocoa is dissolved.
In another bowl, beat the butter, confectioners sugar, and salt and beat until pale and fluffy with a mixer.  On low, add chocolate, and mix until well combined.  Beat in cocoa mixture.
Store in fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 1 month, bringing to room temp before using and beat on low to smooth. NOTE: since this frosting conains a lot of butter, if it is too warm you will have soup.  If this happens, just stash it in the fridge or freezer to firm up.
SALTED CARAMEL FILLING (Makes about 2 cups)
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 T light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
Place sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and heat over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear.
Clip on a candy thermometer and cook to a boil without stirring.
Boil until carmelized and just reaches 360 degrees. 
Remove from heat, add cream slowly and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth, then stir in salt.
Use immediately, or reheat on low when ready to use.
To assemble:
Use a paring knife to cut a little cone shape piece out of each cupcake.
Fill with 1 or 2 tsp warm caramel.
If desired, sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Pipe frosting on using a small or medium star tip.  If desired, sprinkle with another sprinkling of sea salt.  Store at room temperature and serve the same day for best results. If storing for a few days, store in airtight containers at room temperature, within 3 or 4 days.
Recipe source: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
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