Recipe summary

Hands-on time:
20 mins. to 25 mins.
Baking time:
Total time:
20 mins. to 25 mins.
Yield:
approximately 4 cups
Sweet and salty snacks have always been a part of American pop culture and have taken on quite a style and sophistication in the last few years. Sea salt in chocolate, Hawaiian pink salt on a handmade caramel, even gourmet potato chips in exotic flavors.

This icing is super simple to put together using melted vanilla caramel instead of cooking sugar from scratch. Beating in butter and sugar creates a fluffy cloud to top cupcakes or brownies; the first bite of salty sweetness hits the spot. It's hard to resist "just one more bite"!
Volume Ounces Grams

  • 1/2 cup caramel, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder (optional, for stability)
  • 1 teaspoon vanillla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream, as needed

Directions

  1. 1) Melt the chopped caramel(s) with the heavy cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. 2) Place the butter, confectioners' sugar, meringue powder (if using), vanilla extract, and sea salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, just to combine. The mixture will still be quite lumpy.
  3. 3) Add the cooled caramel to the butter/sugar in the bowl. Beat on low speed for 1 minute to incorporate the caramel into the mix. If the mixture is quite thick, add milk or cream as needed to thin to a blend-able consistency.
  4. 4) Increase the speed to high and beat the icing for 5 minutes. You'll see bits of caramel throughout the icing at first; these will melt into the icing over the long mixing time. The meringue powder will increase the fluffiness of the icing as well.
  5. 5) Spread the icing on cupcakes, cakes, brownies, even cookies. Add an extra sprinkle of sea salt on top if desired, or drizzle with additional caramel. Store leftover icing in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  6. Yield: about 4 cups icing.

Tips from our bakers

  • Love chocolate and caramel and salt? Combine swirls of whipped chocolate ganache with swirls of salted vanilla caramel icing and swoon away!
  • If your caramel is a bit thicker and the icing is stiff, add milk or cream by the tablespoon until the icing is a smooth spreadable consistency.