Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes – Moist coffee-flavored cake is topped with caramel buttercream and a generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce. Each bite tastes like a taste of the yummy Italian coffee drink, the caramel macchiato.
I’ll never forget my experience working as a barista throughout college. It’s an experience I discuss frequently here because it introduced me to so many yummy flavors, pastries, and techniques. One of those techniques was the cross-hatch. I learned it while preparing the caramel macchiato, which dominated the menu at the time. Each and every caramel macchiato, whether hot or iced, had a beautiful cross-hatch of caramel on top. In fact, I would even add it to the top of caramel frappuccinos since it added a beautiful look to that drink, too.
I bring up this technique because it is something I dusted off and used for this recipe. I was inspired to make a Caramel Macchiato Cupcake when I tested out a yummy coffee-flavored cake recipe. I wanted to pair it will caramel buttercream to mimic the flavors of the sweet caramel macchiato everyone was obsessed with years ago. And it wouldn’t be right to make these cupcakes without that signature cross-hatch.
Check them out!!
This recipe consists of a coffee-flavored cupcake, made with real coffee and topped with homemade caramel buttercream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. I even make the caramel sauce myself! I recognize that this is a lot to do for one recipe so I won’t judge you if you buy the caramel sauce instead of making it yourself. But it’s actually super simple to make if you have the time!!!
Let’s talk through the steps involved in making this recipe.
How to make this recipe
These cupcakes are made with all the basics: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. However, many cupcake recipes use a mixture of baking powder and baking soda or simply just baking powder in the recipe. Rarely do you see only baking soda in a cake recipe.
However, this cupcake breaks that rule. Because baking soda is a base, it needs acid to react and neutralize the base so that the finished recipe doesn’t have a metallic taste. Since this recipe has buttermilk and coffee, it has plenty of acid and thus is the perfect match for baking soda. No need for baking powder in this recipe!
To make the cupcakes, you’ll beat the melted butter with sugar, eggs, and the vanilla. Then, you’ll alternate adding the dry ingredients with the coffee and buttermilk. By alternating the dry and wet ingredients, you keep lumps from forming in your batter. See how smooth it is??
The baking soda does cause lots of bubbles to form on the surface of the cupcake as it bakes. Don’t worry – that’s normal! Because of this, it makes it a little harder to tell when the cupcakes are done baking. You’ll know for sure when the tops of the cupcakes have set and don’t appear wet anymore.
To get the caramel flavor into the buttercream, we add 1/2 cup of salted caramel sauce. I made mine from scratch because it’s actually really simple to make. However, if you do this, you need to let the caramel cool to room temperature before adding it to the buttercream. Otherwise, the butter in the buttercream will melt.
Once the caramel is ready (or if you’re using storebought), you add it to the buttercream at the end of the process and whip together to make it nice and fluffy.
When the cupcakes have baked and cooled, it’s time to top them with the buttercream. I used a piping bag with a large open star tip to pipe on the buttercream. You can always spread it on too, but piping makes the cupcakes look ultra-professional.
To finish off the cupcakes, drizzle on some extra caramel sauce – you can even use the beautiful cross-hatch pattern! To do it, simply drizzle the caramel in a tight zig-zag and then do the same to form a perpendicular pattern. I use a squeeze bottle to make this process clean and neat.
Tips & Tricks
- In order to make the coffee flavor really stand out in these cupcakes, make a strong pot of coffee. I used my French roast coffee since it’s a dark, bold coffee.
- To make the batter easy to pour into the muffin cups, I used a large measuring cup with a pour spout. This also made it easy to fill the cups to the exact height.
- When adding the buttercream to a piping bag, I place the bag in a pint glass to make it easy to add the buttercream.
Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 2 sticks butter unsalted
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup brewed coffee room temperature
- ½ cup buttermilk
For the topping:
- 2 sticks butter unsalted, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups salted caramel sauce room temperature, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt optional
Making the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Melt butter and add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar and beat together on high for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla extract and mix to combine.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking soda. In another small bowl, whisk buttermilk and room temperature brewed coffee. With mixer off, add ⅓ of flour mixture to the butter mixture. Turn mixer on low to combine. Add ½ of coffee mixture and mix on low to combine. Repeat again. End with mixing in the last ⅓ of flour mixture. Stop as soon as the flour is mixed in.
- Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin cups, filling only about ¾ full. Place cupcakes into the preheated oven and bake until the centers of the cupcakes are set, about 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cupcakes cool completely before topping with caramel buttercream frosting.
Assembling the cupcakes:
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Add softened butter to a bowl fitted for a stand mixer. Beat on high until light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat on high for another 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of salted caramel sauce to buttercream. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Taste buttercream and add salt, if needed.
- Add buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large star piping tip. I used a Wilton large open star tip. Starting on the outside, slowly pipe a cone of caramel buttercream onto cooled cupcake. Finish with a drizzle of caramel sauce. I used a small squeeze bottle to make the drizzle process easy. Repeat with all cupcakes.