These Dulce De Leche Cupcakes are what cupcake dreams are made of! Lightly spiced soft and fluffy cupcakes dipped in cinnamon sugar and filled with luscious dulce de leche. A swirl of sweetened caramel frosting finishes off this wonderful cupcake.
Caramel and dulce de leche are two flavours that I thoroughly enjoy baking with. If dulce de leche is your favourite, then my Dulce De Leche Clementine Layer Cake is what dreams are made of. And if caramel floats your boat, my Apple Cider Caramel Cupcakes are perfect for Autumn baking. Salted Caramel Sauce should be in every baker's arsenal, and I have a post dedicated to making it (with lots of process shots, too!).
Back to these delicious cupcakes. They are from Bernice Baran's (of Baran Bakery fame) first cookbook, Frosted, and the minute I received the book and flicked through it, I knew this was the first recipe from the book that I'd be baking. Bernice is a fantastic baker, and I knew they would be delicious.
They didn't disappoint! The tender, soft sponge is spiced with all things nice (had to go there, didn't I!); by nice, I mean warming ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, but it doesn't overtake at all. The cupcakes are dipped in cinnamon sugar for a churro-Esque taste when biting into the sponge. Creamy, dulce de leche is a bonus surprise filling inside, and the whole thing gets topped in a swirl of smooth as silk Russian Buttercream that's been flavoured with even more dulce de leche.
I'd never heard of Russian Buttercream, and flicking through the book, I was aware of how much I needed to learn about frostings. Bernice delves into 13 (yes 13!) different types of frostings, from the well-known American, French or Italian Buttercreams to the lesser-known Bavarian cream, Ermine Buttercream and so much more. It's an educational book filled with unique and irresistible recipes using an array of frosting recipes. Head to her website for order details.
I’ve also reviewed three other recipes from cookbooks created by my talented baking friends. There's the Apple Cider Chocolate Pecan Toffee recipe by Sabine of Also The Crumbs and Gluten-free Pear Hazelnut and Olive Oil Cake recipe by Kelsey for The Farmer's Daughter and the Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar recipe by Mike of Mike Bakes NYC. All three cookbooks are fabulous and worth purchasing.
Why you'll love this recipe
- The perfect balance of flavours. The light cinnamon and ginger spice balance the sweetness of the dulce de leche.
- Incredibly light sponge. The cupcakes themselves are so light, fluffy and tender.
- Russian Buttercream is simple to make. Made from only two main ingredients of butter and caramel. The result is an insanely smooth, light and not too sweet buttercream
- Cake Flour - We don't have cake flour here in the UK, but US bakers use it a lot in their baked goods as it has a lower protein level which in turn creates less gluten formation. This then results in a lighter texture sponge. You can substitute cake flour by mixing plain (all-purpose) flour and cornflour. The cornflour inhibits gluten formation in the flour, thus achieving the same light sponge. I give exact quantities in my FAQ section below. When baking this recipe, I subbed the cake flour for plain flour and cornflour, which turned out beautifully.
- Sugar - granulated and brown sugar is used in this recipe. The molasses in the brown sugar add moisture and flavour to the sponge.
- Leaveners - Baking powder and a small amount of baking soda are used. (Baking soda always needs an acidic element to react with for it to work- in this recipe, the sour cream provides that reaction)
- Flavourings. Salt to season the sponge, vanilla extract for flavour and spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger for the ultimate layering of fall flavours.
- Oil and butter. I'd never mixed two types of fat to make a sponge before, but it worked perfectly. Use unsalted butter, though, so that you can then control the level of salt in the sponge. Canola oil is best as it has a neutral flavour.
- Eggs. Go for large eggs and keep the egg whites only for this recipe. Sam from Buttermilk by Sam has a great recipe for One Yolk Chocolate Chunk Cookie Recipe that you can use the spare egg yolks in.
- Wet ingredients. Sour cream and whole milk provide the perfect moisture for these cupcakes.
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- Sugar. Use granulated instead of caster sugar. When you bite down on the cupcake coated in granulated cinnamon sugar, you'll get a delightful crunch from the texture.
- Cinnamon. Churros originate from Spain and are more likely than not coated in sugar flavoured with cinnamon. Adding this cinnamon sugar to the outside of the cupcake is a fab addition.
- Butter. You'll need the cinnamon sugar to stick to the cupcake somehow- the best way to do this is to brush them with melted butter and then roll them in the sugar.
Note: Regarding the amount of cinnamon sugar- if you coat the top and the sides of the cupcakes- you'll need the full amount. However, I only coated the tops of the cupcakes and in hindsight, should have halved the cinnamon sugar coating to prevent wastage. (I actually used the leftover to sprinkle over French toast the next morning).
Dulce de Leche Russian Buttercream
- Butter. The base for most buttercreams. Go for unsalted butter so that you can add salt to the taste. And make sure it's room temp!
- Dulce de leche. Bernice recommends using Nestle Dulce de Leche, which I managed to find on Amazon, but it was costly to buy. Here in the UK, it's not readily available, so an alternative is to use a can of Nestle Caramel. I found some at Waitrose, but I know Sainsbury's also sells it, and most large supermarkets will. If you can find another brand of Dulce de Leche in your local store, then, by all means, use that. In my FAQ, I've put notes on making homemade Dulce De Leche. It's a simple process but does take time.
- Salt. To balance out the sweetness of the buttercream.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
There are three separate components to this recipe- the cupcake itself, the coating, and the buttercream. All vital to achieving that flavourful bite of spiced sponge with silky smooth, sweetened buttercream with the surprise dulce de leche filling inside. It's a flavour bomb, alright. Whilst the cupcakes are baking and then cooling, you can make the buttercream, which only takes 15 minutes.
1. Prep your cupcake tin. Pretty self-explanatory, but line your cupcake pan with paper liners. (Image 1) Oh yeah, and turn your oven on to 180C (350F)
2. Mix dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, add the cake flour (or plain flour/cornflour substitution mix), both sugars, baking powder and soda, salt, and four spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, and give them a good mix (Image 2)
3. Add the fats and mix. No need to get the heavy stand mixer out here, I mean, you can if you want to! Electric hand-held beaters will work perfectly here. Beat until the butter and oil are just mixed in. (Image 3) If it looks a bit lumpy and curdled, don't worry, this is normal!
4. Add egg whites and mix. The next step is to add both your egg whites and beat again until just mixed in. (Image 4)
5. Add in the wet ingredients. The last ingredients to go into the batter are vanilla extract, sour cream, and milk. Add these in whilst the beaters are running. (Image 5 & 6 )You'll be left with a super smooth and quite runny batter.
6. Scoop into cupcake liners and bake. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners filling until ⅔ full. Then bake at 180C for 20 mins until the sponge springs back. (Image 7 & 8)
TIP: Use an ice cream scoop to fill the paper liners with the batter. The batter is quite runny, so this makes it less messy than using spoons!
7. Cool and core the centre. Once baked, leave in the pan for ten minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Time to make a hole in the centre of the cupcake (we're going to use this to fill with dulce de leche! Yum! So, use an apple corer or small spoon to scoop out the centre of the cupcake. Don't go all the way to the bottom of the cupcake, though - about halfway will do. Set aside the sponge centres - these pieces are a chef's bonus!! Munch away! (Image 9 & 10)
TIP: Use an apple corer (as in image 9) to remove the centre of the cupcakes. Makes the process super simple and saves fiddling with a teaspoon or pairing knife.
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
8. Coat cupcakes in cinnamon sugar. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Then brush the melted butter onto the tops of the cupcake. (Image 11) (You can remove the paper liners and brush the sides of the cupcake, too if you like) Either sprinkle the cinnamon sugar onto the top of the cupcake, shaking off excess (Image 12), or roll each cupcake into the cinnamon sugar bowl to coat.
Dulce de Leche Russian Buttercream
9. Beat butter. Beat the butter using an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 5-10 minutes. The butter should turn truly pale and fluffy. You can see how pale the butter is in Image 13. Set a timer for 5 minutes if you need to. You really don't want to do it for any less if you want to achieve seriously light, smooth buttercream.
Remember to scrape down the sides and base of the bow; every few minutes.
10. Mix in the dulce de leche. Add half the dulce de leche, then mix until it's really well combined, then add the remaining along with the salt. Keep beating for a further minute or so until it's super smooth. (Image 13 & 14)
TIP: If you find the buttercream has lots of bubbles in it, use a rubber spatular to mix it, which results in the air pockets being smoothed out.
11. Fill cupcake holes. Either with a spoon or a filled piping bag, fill the holes of the cupcakes with dulce de leche until level with the top of the cupcake. (Image 15)
12. Pipe Russian Buttercream. With a piping bag fitted with a piping tip of your choice, it's time to pipe the buttercream onto the top of your cupcakes. (Image 16)
Recipe pro tips
- Icecream scoop. An unlikely implement for making cupcakes, but it makes adding the runny batter to the cupcake cases an easy task. 1.5 scoops of batter per cupcake was an ideal amount for me.
- Apple corer. To remove the centre of the cupcakes, instead of fiddling around with a knife or spoon, use a corer to remove a small amount of sponge easily.
- Pipe the filling. Use a small piping bag or a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the dulce de leche into the small holes in the sponge. Makes for a neater process.
- Smooth Buttercream. If there are air bubbles in your buttercream after creaming the butter in the stand mixer bowl, then use a rubber spatular to stir the buttercream. The bubbles will slowly be pushed out and reduced.
Frequently asked questions
As mentioned above, we don't have cake flour in the UK. Yet so many recipes have it included in the ingredients list. The good news is that you can make your own.
I follow Sally's Baking Addiction guide on how to make it. Here's what she recommends:
1: Add 120g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour into a bowl
2: Remove 30g (2 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour from the bowl (put it back into your flour canister)
3: Add into your plain (all-purpose) flour 20g (2 tablespoons) cornflour.
4: Pass the two flours through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl twice.
For your Dulce de Leche Cupcakes, use 180g (1.5 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, remove 45g (3 tablespoons) of your plain (all-purpose) flour, then add into the bowl 30g (3 tablespoons) cornflour. Then pass through a sieve twice.
Stemming from South America, it's a sweet confection made by boiling down condensed milk (a combination of milk and sugar) until it turns a lovely golden brown colour and becomes a luscious, liquid caramel.
There are two ways to make Dulce de Leche.
The first way is by boiling a can of condensed milk in a saucepan of boiling water until it cooks into dulce de leche. This way feels a little risky as there is the issue of the can exploding due to trapped pressure in the can.
My preferred method to make it is the second method. Add the condensed milk contents into an oven-safe dish, cover it with foil, and bake it in the oven over an extended period of time. This feels safer, especially with kids around, and is really easy to do. I first learned this way from Taste when living in Australia - check it out to see just how easy it is.
For these easy Dulce de Leche Cupcakes being made today, I recommend using a store-bought dulce de leche to cut down your cook time.
The primary difference is that caramel is made by cooking down sugar and water, whilst dulce de leche is made by cooking down condensed milk (made up of cow's milk and sugar).
How to store and freeze
To store: Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days. Cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, but they will dry out.
To freeze: Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and decorate according to your recipe.
Tools you’ll need
- Large Mixing Bowl: For mixing up your batch of cupcakes.
- Standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment: For making the Russian Buttercream.
- Cupcake pan: Start your party by placing paper cases in your trusty cupcake pan.
More Fall recipes that you may like
If you tried this Dulce de Leche Cupcake Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Dulce De Leche Cupcakes Recipe
- 170 g cake flour, Refer to the Notes section below for cake flour substitute.
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 95 g packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 55 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 60 ml canola oil
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 110 g sour cream, room temperature
- 80 ml whole milk, room temperature
Cinnamon Sugar Coating (See notes below)
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 30g unsalted butter, melted
Dulce de Leche Russian Buttercream
- 230 g unsalted butter
- ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
- 380 g dulce de leche, 1 can (alternatives in notes below), divided (half for filling and half for buttercream)
- Preheat oven and line cupcake tin. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and line 12 hole cupcake pan with paper liners.
- Mix dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, add the cake flour (or plain/all-purpose flour & cornflour if you are substituting the cake flour with them - see notes below for quantities). Also add white and brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt and whisk together.
- Add the fats and mix. Add the butter and oil into the bowl and mix together on medium speed using hand-held electric beaters. If the mixture looks a bit lumpy, don't worry!
- Add eggs whites and mix. Add in your egg whites and beat again until mixed in.
- Add in wet ingredients. With the beaters running on low, add in the vanilla extract, sour cream, then milk and beat until just combined.
- Scoop into cupcake liners and bake. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cupcake paper liners- the batter should reach ⅔ full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sponge is golden and springs back when gently pressed in the middle.
- Cool and core the cupcake center. Leave cupcakes in the pan for ten minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, use a small spoon, paring knife or apple corer to remove a small amount of sponge from the center of the cupcake. Don't go all the way to the bottom, only a 1 cm (¼ inch) deep holes are needed.
Cinnamon Sugar Coating (see notes below)
- Coat cupcakes in cinnamon sugar. Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the tops (and sides if you wish) of the cupcakes with melted butter and dip (or roll if you have done the sides) in the cinnamon sugar tapping off any excess.
Dulce de Leche Russian Buttercream
- Beat butter. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, beat the butter for 5-10 minutes, scraping down halfway, until the butter is noticeably paler in colour.
- Mix in dulce de leche. Add half of the dulce de leche and salt and mix at low speed until combined. Add the remaining dulce de leche and mix again for another minute or so until well combined.
- Fill cupcake holes. Add dulce de leche for the filling into a small piping bag and fill the cupcake holes with dulce de leche. (Add any remaining dulce de leche into the buttercream.
- Pipe Russian Buttercream. Fill another piping bag fitted with your favourite piping tip (I used an open French Star tip) and pipe swirls of buttercream onto the top of each cupcake. Cupcakes are best eaten the same day.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.