dark chocolate cupcakes with butterscotch icing

12 cupcakes    |   
Prep Time:
20 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
25 minutes

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chocolate cupcake

The great thing about going to your own book signing is that while you’re there you can look at books by other authors who are coming in to sign. Such was the case at Omnivore Books when I went in to talk about Braises & Stews and ended up seeing this book, Salty Sweets, by Christie Matheson. What a great title! I immediately thought of all the salted caramels I’ve been eating (sure enough, she has a recipe for those), but what really sold me was the photo on the cover of dark chocolate cupcakes with butterscotch icing. I bought the book, I made the cupcakes, snarfled some down, and froze a few to serve later. They thawed out beautifully…twice! The icing is more like a thick sauce and would be as good on ice cream as it was on cupcakes, or straight off your finger, which is how I ate most of it.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl. In a small pan, heat the butter, oil, and water together until the butter is completely melted. In a measuring cup, beat the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla together with a fork.

Using the whisk attachment or an electric mixer, whisk the butter mixture into the dry ingredients, then whisk in the egg mixture until blended. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners until just three-quarters full (note: I overfilled mine and ended up with only 10 cupcakes). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 24 minutes.

Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely (if made ahead, you can store the cupcakes at room temperature, well covered, for up to 2 days or freeze up to 2 weeks).

Make the icing by combining the sugar, cream, butter, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, without stirring, for 8 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool; chill until the mixture is cold. At this point, beat the chilled icing with a whisk or electric mixer to it thicken it even more. Spoon decoratively on cooled cupcakes and serve.