Happy birthday to you, my sweet friend...

Today is Kellie's Birthday, and I LOVE celebrating with her! She is such a beautiful spirit! She is humble and kind and is always selflessly doing so much for other people. I'm always so encouraged and inspired by her and am so  blessed to have someone like her in my life! I wanted to make her something really special to enjoy with her family after her birthday dinner! Kellie loves caramel and dark chocolate, so I combined those flavors to a make an extra special little treat! These cupcakes were a combination of a few recipes. I have to admit they are beyond delicious and are so worth the time. I can't wait to give them to her!

So happy birthday my sweet friend, may the year ahead be filled with more happiness than your heart can hold! May God fill bless your days with abundant joy. I'm so thankful for you and your friendship! Here's to a fabulous year, love you! ♥

Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream frosting 

Chocolate Cake
{you can use any chocolate cake recipe you like here, the salted caramel buttercream is what really makes this recipe!}
We love to use Sweetapolita's chocolate cupcake recipe found here

{via Ina Garten}

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water 
1 1/4 cup heavy cream 
1/2 t pure vanilla extract

Mix water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Cook over low for 5-10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium  and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a chestnut brown color. {About 350 degrees on a candy thermometer} This will take about 5-7 minutes. This mixture will be veru hot and it can go from chestnut to burnt in a flash. Turn off the heat and add the cream and vanilla. The cream will be very bubbly and the sugar will seize. Turn the heat back on low and stir until all of the sugar had dissolved and a sauce has formed. Allow to cool, sauce will thicken as it cools. 

Salted Caramel Italian Buttercream 
{step by step recipe photos here}
sugar 16oz (1 pound)
water 4oz (about 1/2 cup)
egg whites 8oz (about 8 egg whites)
butter 16oz(1 pound)

Add the sugar and water to a heavy duty pot. Put your candy thermometer in the pot.
Add the egg whites to your kitchen mixer. Take the butter out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter while you are doing everything else. At this point you are going to boil your water and sugar until the candy thermometer reaches soft ball stage which is 240 degrees.

While the sugar and water are coming to a boil start your mixer so that the eggs are whipped enough to form a medium peek. (You can stop the mixer when they reach this point even if you sugar hasn't reached 240 degrees yet.
When you sugar has reached 240 degrees start your mixer again and slowly pour the hot sugar down the inside of the mixer. This process will cook your egg whites. Make sure that you do not pour the sugar onto the whisk of the mixer, but down the side of the bowl onto the egg whites.
Be very careful as the sugar is super hot!! If you feel the outside of the bowl you will see how hot it feels. Keep mixing until the bowl has cooled down considerably, until you can keep your hand on it with no problem. All of the mixing will add a lot of volume/air into your egg whites. 
If you add the butter when the bowl is to hot it will just melt, so let it mix for a good 10 minutes. At this point you can add the butter, little pieces at a time. After all the butter is in, let it mix a little bit longer and you will see that the frosting will come together. If it is still a little bit thin you can add another half stick of butter. 
Once the frosting is done take a little more than a 1/4 of a cup of the cooled caramel and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix into frosting on the mixer. Once you have pipped the frosting on the cupcakes you can sprinkle some sea salty or fleur de sel on the top to add a little more saltiness! 

{all photos via Icing Designs}


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