the appetizer:

Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats by Christie Matheson, includes recipes like Salted Caramels; Black-and-White Almond Bark; and Dark Chocolate Fleur De Sel Cupcakes with Snappy Butterscotch Icing.

I Love Desserts


Dark Chocolate
Fleur De Sel Cupcakes
with Snappy Butterscotch Icing

Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Fleur De Sel Cupcakes with Snappy Butterscotch Icing


Oh, do I love cupcakes. They are absolutely the perfect treat. I might even be a little obsessed. I am constantly pitching food editors stories about cupcakes, just so I have an excuse to sample more. (I think they're on to me now.) I take my friend Carrie's three-year-old daughter, Caitlin, out for cupcakes—claiming it's because she loves them so much. (She does love them—after her first bite of a lemon cupcake on our last date, she looked up at me with a huge grin and exclaimed, "This is delicious!") While planning my wedding, the part I was most excited about (aside from marrying Will) was the cupcakes we decided to serve instead of a big wedding cake. There were three kinds, including a chocolate cupcake—sprinkled with fleur de sel, of course.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Fleur de sel
  • Snappy Butterscotch Icing (below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and fine sea salt together into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, oil, and water over medium-low heat, stirring until the butter is completely melted and incorporated.

4. Whisk the butter mixture into the dry ingredients on low speed until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg, then whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla.

5. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and sprinkle a tiny bit of fleur de sel over the top of each. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes are set and spring back when you touch them and a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan. then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Ice with Snappy Butterscotch Icing. The cupcakes will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Sweet Ideas!
  • For a double dose of chocolate, frost these cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting (page 74 of the book).
  • Skip the icing altogether, sprinkle these with a tiny bit more fleur de sel immediately after they come out of the oven, and serve warm with a scoop of Butterscotch Ice Cream (page 120) on the side.

Snappy Butterscotch Icing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups (enough to ice 12 regular-size cupcakes)

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Combine the sugar, cream, butter, water, and salt in a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is completely dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 8 minutes without stirring, until the icing has thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool completely so the icing will thicken enough to spread. Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes to speed the thickening process, if you like. The icing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • from:
    Salty Sweets
    Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats
  • by Christie Matheson
  • The Harvard Common Press 2009
  • Hardcover; 144 pages; $19.95
  • ISBN: 1558324151
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-55832-415-2
  • Reprinted by permission.

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Salty Sweets


This page created May 2010

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