Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Muffins


Easier than they look, these double chocolate salted caramel muffins really beg the question: are they a cupcake or a muffin? Either way, that chocolate/caramel (or dulce de leche) combo is just what a muffin needs!

Top down view of double chocolate salted caramel muffin on cooling rack

It’s been kind of a weird week.

And by weird, I mean: It’s probably been one of the busiest weeks of my entire life…while I’ve managed to be about as unproductive as possible. It’s a bad combo, in case you are wondering.

If you are super in tune with my blogging style, you may have noticed that the only recipe I’ve posted this week is the creamy (dreamy!) coconut milk steel cut oatmeal on Monday.

It’s delicious enough to stand on its own all week without a recipe companion, but the perfectionist/crazed part of me felt like I’d be a total blogging failure if I didn’t give you at least one more amazing recipe this week.

So I am powering through (and ignoring some other tasks and assignments beckoning – dare I say, YELLING – at me) to give you these amazing double chocolate salted caramel muffins.

Half of a double chocolate salted caramel muffin with caramel oozing out.


Gazing upon this gloriously chocolatey divinely inspired muffin, you might be wondering the same thing a million other people are wondering:

“Come on, Mel, is this really a muffin or is it just an unfrosted cupcake masquerading as a muffin?”

Well, friends, that’s a really good question.

And one I’m going to sidestep a little. Let me simply say that I’m able to sleep just fine at night calling these double chocolate caramel beauties a muffin.

I really do think frosting makes the defining difference between a cupcake and a muffin. So while I’m not advocating these double chocolate muffins make an appearance at your next ultra-healthy breakfast event (??), I’m also not saying you can’t eat them before 9 a.m. (or else I’d be the biggest hypocrite on the planet).

If you want to add frosting and call it a cupcake, go right ahead! Or if you want to insist it’s really just a naked cupcake, I’m fine with that, too. As long as I have a couple of these muffins to keep me company, I’ll let you guys battle it out. 🙂

Double chocolate salted caramel muffin with paper liner removed.

These muffins really are special. Not only are they picture perfect with that lovely domed, slightly crackly top, but the delightful caramel surprise in the center is…well…the best surprise ever.

I’ve detailed some notes below in the recipe about what constitutes an appropriate caramel filling. I used this divine caramel sauce for the batch of muffins pictured in this post.

It was refrigerated – so it was super thick – and I didn’t warm first before scooping a dollop on the half-baked muffins.

But dulce de leche (homemade or storebought) would make a delicious caramelly filling as well (I know, because I tried it – amazing!).

I also think there’s a distinct possibility that an unwrapped soft caramel would work wonders, too. I haven’t tried that variation, so if someone does, please report back.

Half of a double chocolate salted caramel muffin with caramel oozing out.

I almost feel as though I shouldn’t really suggest this out loud, but if you want to skip the caramel altogether, you’d be left with a really stellar chocolate muffin.

And I wouldn’t be mad at you for that.

{A few other favorite chocolate muffins: Double Chocolate Chunk Muffins and Classic Chocolate Muffins}

The flaky sea salt on top is also an extra you could leave out, but it does give a delicious contrast to the sweet chocolate/caramel combo.

If you are looking for a truly wow-worthy muffin, these double chocolate salted caramel muffins are calling your name (and mine, invite me over, pretty please?).

All of a sudden my piles of laundry and endless to-do list this week aren’t looking quite as exciting as whipping up another batch of these. #priorities

Double chocolate salted caramel muffin on cooling rack

One Year Ago: Simple Weeknight Greek Chicken Burritos {or Wraps!}
Two Years Ago: Doubletree Hotel Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago: Quinoa Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Granola Cookies
Four Years Ago: Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars
Five Years Ago: Outrageous Eskimo Bars

Yield: 12-16 muffins

Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour (see note for whole wheat)
  • 3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) natural unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) milk, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 cup milk (I use 2%)
  • 1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil, like vegetable, canola, avocado oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup thick caramel sauce or dulce de leche (see note)
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips.
  3. In a separate medium bowl or in a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil, and eggs until smooth.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined (don’t overmix or the muffins might be tough and dense).
  5. Fill the muffin liners about 2/3 of the way full (you may have extra batter; you can bake a second batch or use a second muffin tin, if needed). Don’t overfill as you’ll be adding caramel to the muffins in the next step.
  6. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, just until the edges are set but the centers are still wet. Working quickly, remove the muffin tin from the oven and drop a heaping teaspoon of caramel sauce or dulce de leche into the center of each muffin (no need to press down into the batter).
  7. Return to the oven and bake until the batter rises over the caramel and the tops spring back lightly to the touch, 10-12 minutes.
  8. Lightly sprinkle the muffins with sea salt, if desired. Let the muffins rest in the pan for 1-2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes:

I’ve subbed 50% whole wheat flour (white wheat, not red wheat) and it works pretty well. The muffins are slightly more dense, but still delicious. 

The muffins pictured in the post are made with natural unsweetened cocoa (like Hershey’s brand); using Dutch-process will yield a muffin that has a richer, deeper chocolate flavor (and color).

For these muffins, I used some of this caramel sauce I had in the fridge (didn’t warm first; I scooped it onto each muffin cold). Using dulce de leche would work great, too (again, if it’s refrigerated, I wouldn’t warm first), and I even think unwrapping a soft caramel and dropping that onto each muffin would be incredible (haven’t tried that one myself yet, though). I wouldn’t recommend the thin-ish caramel ice cream topping. 

I was able to bake all the batter in 12 muffins (one tin), but I used my favorite USA brand muffin tin {aff. link}; the muffin cups are a bit deeper than other standard muffin tins so I can get away with filling them more. If you are using another brand of muffin tin, you might need to separate the muffin batter into 16 muffins so they don’t spill over as they bake.

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