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Caramel Buttercream

This recipe is paired with Banana Cupcakes.

  • Yield: Makes about 4 cups
Caramel Buttercream

Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is dark amber. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool.

  2. Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

  3. Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

  4. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.

  5. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.


On "Martha Bakes," Martha used 1/3 cup heavy cream in this recipe, and added 1/4 teaspoon salt at the same time as the vanilla.

Cook's Note

If not using immediately, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth.)

Reviews (10)

  • jlrphan 23 Jun, 2012

    This recipe was way too buttery for me. I could barely taste the caramel. Disappointed I wasted all those ingredients.

  • alswink 10 Mar, 2012

    Is it okay to leave this out a few hours?

  • Ana23 15 Mar, 2011

    I just made this frosting and it came out runny. Did anyone have this problem?

  • cat1992 5 Feb, 2011

    This frosting is delicious! I made the caramel and it had crystals so I tried again and it worked out great -- I think the trick is not stirring it at all, just let it cook.

  • pudgystummy 18 Feb, 2010

    SO Yummy! The recipe from the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book is a bit different and I didn't have any trouble...going from memory...Step 1 said to swirl once and a while; Step 3 didn't require a candy thermometer, instead whisk until mixture is smooth when rubbed between fingers (sugar is melted); Step 4 said to add butter 1/4 cups at a time. I know my post is close to a year off, but hope this helps.

  • TrellisSmith 29 May, 2009

    I didn't add the entire caramel mixture. I thought it would have made the frosting to runny. However, my egg whites didn't produce as much volume as I expected.

  • vcmajchrzak1 13 Apr, 2009

    Vivianita the other 1/2 cup sugar goes into part #3. Hope this helps you.

  • mzdwells 2 Mar, 2009

    I had the same problem so I reheated the carmel and added it hot to the butter mixture, but it still hardened as soon as it left the pot. I am not sure how this is supposed to work...

  • luv2bake326 4 Feb, 2009

    1/2 c 2 tbls is for the caramel and the remaining 1/2 c is for the egg whites. I made this recipe last night and would suggest not making caramel first. It hardens if it cools too much before mixing it into the buttercream. End result = caramel pieces in the buttercream rather than caramel buttercream. Still delicious though!

  • vivianadiez 3 Feb, 2009

    Hi.... I was wondering if the recipe calls for 1/2 a cup sugar or 1 cup sugar? In the ingredients it says 1 cup plus 2 tbs. In the directions it says 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. Can someone please tell me which one is the correct....

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