Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Treat yourself to a heavenly combination of rich chocolate, bold espresso, and luscious salted caramel with these Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes topped with Salted Caramel Buttercream. Whether you’re craving a luxurious dessert for a special occasion or simply want to elevate your everyday baking, these decadent cupcakes are sure to impress. Follow along for a step-by-step guide to creating these irresistible treats that will delight your taste buds and leave you craving for more.


For the Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes:

  • 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

For the Salted Caramel Sauce (optional, for garnish):

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat and Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Incorporate Wet Ingredients: Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the dissolved espresso powder mixture and vanilla extract, mixing until well combined.
  5. Alternate Dry and Wet Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Fill Cupcake Liners: Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Cool: Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the muffin tin for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Prepare Salted Caramel Buttercream: While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the salted caramel buttercream. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth. Add the salted caramel sauce, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt, and beat until well combined and fluffy. Adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar if needed.
  10. Frost Cupcakes: Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost them with the salted caramel buttercream using a piping bag or an offset spatula.
  11. Optional Garnish: If desired, drizzle the cooled salted caramel sauce over the frosted cupcakes for an extra touch of indulgence.
  12. Serve and Enjoy: Serve and enjoy these delicious chocolate espresso cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream as a decadent treat!

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  1. Freshly Frosted: Enjoy these Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream freshly frosted for the best flavor and texture.
  2. After-Dinner Delight: Serve these decadent cupcakes as a show-stopping dessert at your next dinner party or special occasion. They’re sure to impress guests with their rich flavor and elegant presentation.
  3. Coffee Pairing: Pair these espresso-infused cupcakes with a freshly brewed cup of coffee or espresso for a delightful afternoon pick-me-up or after-dinner treat.
  4. Party Pleaser: These cupcakes are perfect for celebrations and gatherings. Display them on a tiered cake stand for a beautiful presentation that will wow your guests.

Storage Tips:

  1. Room Temperature: Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days. Ensure they are fully cooled before storing to prevent condensation.
  2. Refrigeration: If you prefer to store cupcakes for a longer period, refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving for the best taste and texture.
  3. Freezing: To freeze cupcakes, individually wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.


1. Mocha Madness:

  • Chocolate Espresso Ganache: Top each cupcake with a dollop of rich chocolate espresso ganache for an extra indulgent twist.
  • Coffee Liqueur Infusion: Add a splash of coffee liqueur to the cupcake batter or buttercream frosting for a boozy kick.

2. Nutty Indulgence:

  • Hazelnut Crunch: Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts or hazelnut praline over the salted caramel buttercream for added crunch and flavor.
  • Almond Amaretto: Substitute almond extract for vanilla extract in the buttercream and garnish with sliced almonds for a delightful almond amaretto flavor.

3. Fruity Fusion:

  • Raspberry Ripple: Swirl raspberry jam or fresh raspberry puree into the salted caramel buttercream for a burst of fruity goodness.
  • Orange Zest: Add orange zest to the cupcake batter and frosting for a zesty citrus twist that pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate and espresso.

4. Seasonal Sensations:

  • Pumpkin Spice: Incorporate pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice into the cupcake batter for a festive fall twist. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
  • Peppermint Perfection: Infuse the cupcakes with peppermint extract and top with crushed candy canes for a refreshing holiday treat.

5. Dietary Modifications:

  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour and ensure all ingredients are gluten-free to make these cupcakes suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.
  • Dairy-Free: Substitute dairy butter and milk with plant-based alternatives, and ensure the salted caramel sauce is dairy-free for a delicious dairy-free version of these cupcakes.

Experiment with these variations to create your own unique spin on these Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream and delight your taste buds with every decadent bite!


1. Can I use instant coffee instead of espresso powder?

  • Yes, you can substitute instant coffee for espresso powder in both the cupcake batter and the frosting. However, the espresso powder provides a more intense coffee flavor.

2. Can I make the cupcakes without the salted caramel buttercream?

  • Absolutely! These chocolate espresso cupcakes are delicious on their own or with a simple chocolate or vanilla frosting if you prefer.

3. How can I make the salted caramel sauce from scratch?

  • To make homemade salted caramel sauce, combine granulated sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar melts and turns amber in color. Remove from heat and carefully stir in heavy cream, butter, and sea salt until smooth.

4. Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time and frost them later?

  • Yes, you can bake the cupcakes in advance and store them unfrosted in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a day. Frost them just before serving for the best taste and texture.

5. How do I prevent the cupcakes from sinking in the middle?

  • To prevent cupcakes from sinking, ensure your oven is preheated properly, and avoid opening the oven door too frequently while baking. Additionally, do not overmix the batter and be sure not to overfill the cupcake liners.

6. Can I freeze the cupcakes after frosting them?

  • While it’s possible to freeze frosted cupcakes, the texture of the frosting may change slightly upon thawing. For best results, freeze the unfrosted cupcakes and frost them after thawing.

7. Can I use store-bought caramel sauce instead of making it from scratch?

  • Yes, you can use store-bought caramel sauce as a convenient alternative. Just ensure it’s a thick sauce suitable for frosting.

8. How do I store leftover salted caramel buttercream?

  • Store any leftover salted caramel buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Allow it to come to room temperature before using, and re-whip if necessary.

9. Can I make mini cupcakes with this recipe?

  • Yes, you can use a mini cupcake pan and adjust the baking time accordingly to make mini chocolate espresso cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream.

10. How can I make these cupcakes gluten-free?

  • To make gluten-free cupcakes, substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Be sure to check that all other ingredients, including the baking powder and cocoa powder, are also gluten-free.

With their rich chocolate flavor, hint of espresso, and luxurious salted caramel buttercream, these Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes are a true indulgence for any occasion. Whether you’re celebrating a special event or simply craving a delightful dessert, these cupcakes are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you craving for more. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to treat yourself to a taste sensation that’s simply irresistible!