Bake Sale Caramel Cupcakes

What makes caramel frosting on a vanilla cupcake special is its delicious simplicity. And, what makes the frosting perfect for bake sales is that it isn’t affected by heat or humidity, it travels well without smudging, and most important, it is beloved by all.

Bake Sale Caramel Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 24
Ingredients
Cupcakes:
  • 24 paper liners for cupcake pans (21/2-inch size)
  • cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla instant
  • pudding mix
  • 11/4 cups milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Quick Caramel Frosting
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Cupcakes:
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 11/2 to 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well blended.
  3. Spoon or scoop a heaping ¼ cup of cupcake batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.)
  4. Place the pans in the oven and bake the cupcakes until they are golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of the cupcake cups, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the pans using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the pans carefully with your fingertips. Place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes longer before frosting.
  5. Meanwhile, make the Quick Caramel Frosting, poon a heaping tablespoon of frosting on top of each cupcake and spread it out with a short metal spatula or spoon, taking care to cover the top completely. The cupcakes are then ready to serve.
  6. Quick Caramel Frosting:
  7. Place the butter and brown sugars in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and let the mixture return to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Add about 11/4 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until the frosting is smooth. Add ½ to ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, but not so much so that it thickens and hardens. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of frosting on top of each cupcake and spread it out with a short metal spatula or spoon, taking care to cover the top completely. The cupcakes are then ready to serve.
 

Keep It Fresh! Store these cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to five days or for up to one week in the refrigerator. Freeze the cupcakes, in a cake saver or wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to three months. Let the cupcakes thaw overnight on the counter before serving.

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