For the Espresso Infused Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 ¾C AP Flour
1C Dark Cocoa Powder (high quality)
2t Baking Soda
1t Baking Powder
1t Kosher Salt
1C Buttermilk, Well-Shaken
½C Vegetable Oil
2 Extra Large Eggs, Beaten
1t Vanilla Extract
1C Freshly Brewed Espresso
For the Whipped Sea Salt Buttercream:
2 Sticks of Salted Butter, Room Temperature (very soft)
½t Kosher Salt (add a little at a time until you have reached your desired saltiness)
2t Vanilla Extract
4C Confectioners’ Sugar, Sifted
¼C Chilled Heavy Cream
For the Honey Caramel Sauce:
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
¾C Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1 Can of Sweetened, Condensed Milk
¼t Kosher Salt
Smoked Fleur de Sel, For Garnishing
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with liners. Set this aside while you make the batter.
2. For the Espresso Infused Dark Chocolate Cake: Sift together the AP flour, sugar, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment). In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayo, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until completely combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With the mixer still on low, pour in the coffee and stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the finished batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 10-15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before topping them with frosting.
3. For the Whipped Sea Salt Buttercream: In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the softened, salted butter and beat until creamy. Throw in the salt and vanilla, and beat again. Start by adding one cup of confectioners’ sugar at a time, whipping it until it is smooth and incorporate before the next addition. Repeat until all of the confectioners’ sugar has been used. Finally, whip in the heavy cream to loosen the texture (you can use a little more if you need to).
4. For the Honey Caramel Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the honey, butter, and brown sugar on medium heat. Once melted, let the mixture come to a rolling boil for 2 minutes while stirring continuously. Add in the sweetened, condensed milk and stir to combine. Allow it to cook for another minutes or two so that it will thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Let this mixture cool slightly before topping the Buttercream with it.
5. Finishing the Cupcakes: Using a large ice cream scoop, gather the whipped sea salt Buttercream and plop it on top of the cooled chocolate cupcakes. Using a knife or a spoon, smooth out the sides and create a hollowed out center. Pour a little bit of the honey caramel sauce into the center and garnish with a sprinkle of smoked fleur de sel. If you want to decorate them, you can sprinkle on some chocolate sprinkles or toasted cake crumbs.