These Gluten Free Salted Caramel Cupcakes are a home run in any ballpark of life! They’re the perfect balance of sweet and salty in one hand held little cake.
I can’t even tell you how amazing tonight was. It was filled with friendly neighbors, loads of laughter, a smorgasbord of delicious food, and genuine kindness.
I LOVE HAWAII.
It all started with ribs. Don’t worry, you’ll get that recipe soon because these ribs are epic. But that’s beside the point. The point of these ribs are they started this eventful evening.
You see, in our church we offer to host young adults for dinner that are serving missions in our area. In our case, it’s two young men in their late teens/early twenties. They are great young men that give their time and service to help the community.
Anywho, I took it upon myself to buy some ribs at Costco for our Sunday dinner that we had invited them to. I figured ribs and young men are a match made in heaven.
All was going well until I opened the pack of ribs this morning to marinate them in a dry rub. What I thought was two racks of ribs turned out to be THREE!!! There was no way on this planet, even with two ravenous young men, that we could eat three racks of ribs.
Solution: Invite your neighbors.
We have the most wonderful set of neighbors that live across the driveway. The day we moved in, almost two years ago, they invited us into their home, sang “Happy Birthday” to Emry, and cut up some fresh papaya to celebrate and welcome us to the island.
Ever since then we have exchanged friendly “hellos”, traded each other treats for fresh fruits (I give the treats, of course!), borrowed an occasional cup of sugar, and talked about how we need to get together for dinner one of these days. Well, a year and a half later, we actually invited them to dinner and to my excitement, they actually accepted the invitation.
Most people would show up with just a smile given a last minute dinner invite. Not our neighbors. They arrived with a bouquet of tulips (my favorite flower) and a guitar in hand. Yes, a guitar.
Once dinner was eaten and dessert was served, we were serenaded with some original Hawaiian folk songs. After the beautiful music we heard handfuls of local stories and responded with uncontrollable amounts of laughter. It was the perfect evening. Nobody wanted to leave. In fact, we finally had to send our girls off to bed because they were turning into full blown zombies, and we continued the evening until the reality of busy morning work schedules forced a goodbye.
Tell me your neighbors aren’t like this. I mean, I know there are wonderful neighbors out there, but nothing beats a true Hawaiian neighbor. It’s the aloha way.
Now I may not have the complete aloha spirit quite yet. I may not be equipped with story after story of humorous local encounters. I may have absolutely no musical talent that I can share with others. Pretty much, I make a pretty lame Hawaiian.
BUT, like most Hawaiians, I show my love through food. And one of my favorite foods to share has always been dessert. People love dessert, and I LOVE that people love dessert. It makes life enjoyable. I mean really, have you ever been unhappy while eating a cupcake???
Besides the ribs, the artichokes, the potato salad, the fruit salad, the brussel sprouts, and the rosemary garlic bread…I think my greatest contribution to this lovely evening were these Gluten Free Salted Caramel Cupcakes.
Yeah, they weren’t quite as good as listening to the guitar, but they came in a close second. Let me tell you why:
- These cupcakes have a sweet and tender brown sugar cake for a base that uses dark brown sugar for an extra caramely flavor.
- They’re topped with a thin layer of salted caramel buttercream, along with a thicker outer edge of frosting. Yum, YUM!
- They have a pocket of homemade salted caramel sauce floating in the middle of the ring of buttercream.
- They are topped with a sprinkle of crispy, crunchy toffee bits to add to that caramel flavor.
Basically these cupcakes are G-O-O-D!
Um, in fact Ben actually ranked these cupcakes in his top three favorite desserts I have ever made. Honestly, he could probably make love to these cupcakes the way he talks about them. You think I’m kidding??? I don’t kid.
Another thing; these cupcakes freeze beautifully. I actually made these last week and froze half of them so I wouldn’t have to scramble around making another dessert today. All I did was pull them out of the freezer a few hours before dinner and topped them with the toffee bits right before serving. Score, that was easy!
And if we want to talk about easy, you can always buy pre-made caramel topping as long as it is gluten free. I would recommend using a caramel topping that is thicker rather than the runny, squeezable sauce. But, if you have the extra bit of time, for sure make this salted caramel sauce. It is absolute gold.
This caramel sauce has the perfect ratio of sweet to salty with almost a slight butterscotch undertone. I’m not exaggerating when I say I could drink this stuff. I want to put it on everything!!! But alas, it is for the cupcakes and I cannot drink it all. Wah wah.
So serve up some smiles at your next family/friend gathering a see how much love these cupcakes will bring you. My guess is you will be getting more grins than you can imagine.
Do you invite neighbors over for dinner often?
- For the cupcakes:
- 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons butter (13 tablespoons), room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup superfine white rice flour
- ½ cup potato starch
- ½ cup millet or sweet sorghum flour
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 cup sour cream (I used light, NOT fat free)
- For the salted caramel:
- 1½ tablespoons water
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- For the frosting:
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons salted caramel, completely cooled
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- Begin making salted caramel sauce by mixing water and sugar together in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Let boil without stirring until mixture has begun to turn amber in color, about 5-7 mins. Do not let it burn.
- Remove from heat and slowly pour in heavy cream while whisking vigorously. Mixture will bubble quite a bit, but continue to stir. Add vanilla, salt, and butter and continue to stir until smooth.
- Pour into a bowl and let mixture completely cool. Cover and transfer to fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
- Begin making cupcakes by creaming together butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides as needed. Add vanilla and mix on low until smooth.
- In a smaller mixing bowl, sift together white rice flour, potato starch, millet or sorghum flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum.
- Pour dry ingredients into wet, along with sour cream, and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat on medium for an additional minute.
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ way full and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until turning golden brown and tops spring back at touch of a finger and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with few crumbs.
- Remove from oven and quickly transfer cupcakes from tin to cooling rack. Allow to completely cool.
- To make frosting, beat butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of completely cooled caramel sauce, heavy cream, and pinch of salt. Beat until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add more cream or sugar depending on thickness preference.
- To assemble cupcakes, frost tops with a very thin layer of frosting. Pipe a ring of frosting around the edges of the cupcakes to make a barrier. Drizzle caramel sauce in the center of the ring. Fill with toffee bits just before serving so they don't get soft.
- Store leftover cupcakes (without toffee bits) in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, in fridge for up to a week, or in freezer for up to 3 months. Add toffee bits in center just before serving leftovers.