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"Broken Glass" Cupcakes

The recipe for the "glass" is essentially one for caramel. The trick is to cook it for a shorter amount of time than usual so it stays clear.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Makes 3 1/2 dozen
"Broken Glass" Cupcakes

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2011


For the Cupcakes

  • 4 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 7 large egg whites, room temperature

For the Caramel

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

For the Frosting

  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cherry preserves, strained, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cupcakes: Line cupcake tins with baking cups. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl. Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup.

  2. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, and gradually add granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

  3. In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the whites into the cupcake batter. Fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches.

  4. Divide batter among baking cups, filling each halfway full. Bake until a toothpick inserted
    into the center of each comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly touched, 18 to
    20 minutes. Let cool completely in tins set on wire racks.

  5. Meanwhile, make the caramel: Bring granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small high-sided saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until mixture just starts to turn pale gold around edges. Remove from heat, and immediately pour caramel onto a rimmed baking sheet. Working quickly, tilt pan to spread caramel to edges to make a very thin layer. Let cool to harden.

  6. Make the frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale
    and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy and spreadable.

  7. Frost each cupcake using an offset spatula. Twist pan to release and break caramel in order for it to resemble broken glass. Place a shard or 2 of caramel "glass" in the center of each cupcake. Drizzle or pipe cherry preserves where caramel has entered the cupcake.

Cook's Note

Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Top with caramel shards and cherry preserves just before serving.

Reviews (32)

  • lalaelizabeth 8 Oct, 2014

    I followed another user's instructions for the caramel glass--you really need corn syrup and a candy thermometer for this. I tried this sugar and water recipe and it never hardened; maybe it works, but I would need additional instructions for how since I am not familiar with candy making. Really cute idea--I'll be using corn syrup and red food coloring for the "blood" instead of cherry preserves.

  • Steve Thompson 11 Nov, 2013

    The glass will work, exactly as shown, if you take your time and use a candy thermometer. You do not need corn syrup. I used just water and sugar. Don't even stir in the sugar. The key is to turn the boiling water down immediately after water comes to a boil and let the water slowly evaporate, this takes time, take the sugar off the stove, immediately, when your thermometer says 300 degrees. If your sugar yellows, after cooling on silipat, run under hot water over the glass until it's clear.

  • Jenn O 31 Oct, 2013

    I only looked at this recipe for guidance and for the sugar glass and was extremely irritated when it didn't work, & now find that it couldn't possibly work~ & more frustrated to find EVERY other posting on how to make it has corn syrup and much better instructions. This post is linked to a Halloween site, and without the "glass" they're normal, every day frosted cupcakes. Needless to say, this boring alternative is what I'll be taking to work, since I don't have corn syrup around.

  • Phydeaux71 10 Oct, 2013

    My daughter made these. Our first attempt at the sugar glass was a disaster since it granulated upon cooling. So, we found a more reliable candy recipe from another site. 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup water. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then slowly heat to 302--no more stirring. Pour into a nonstick foil lined cake pan and spread thin, cool. The corn syrup is the key. It's slightly yellowish but very clear and hard when cooled.

  • daneekaps 23 Oct, 2014

    it granulated because it was contaminated with crystals from the pan. This is a common problem in candy making. Glad you found something that worked better for you.

  • lbauer321 10 Oct, 2013

    This is a great Halloween cupcake idea! But I used Martha Stewart's Red Velvet Cupcake recipe instead so that the cakes would look blood-soaked! Yum!

  • Since1982 2 Oct, 2013

    The instructions for the glass could be more novice-friendly, providing a target temperature for the finished caramel as well as an instruction not to stir the sugar mixture as it heats (or crystals will develop), but the directions *are* accurate. The magazine/staff shouldn't be unfairly criticized for providing inaccurate or poor recipes; instead, they should be encouraged to remember not everyone has the same level of experience and make sure the instructions anticipate any/all questions.

  • sunnydaytheory 24 Apr, 2013

    For a clearer looking glass (no bubbles) I use a kitchen torch (kitchen flame thrower) or other high, quick heat expending tools and quickly brush over the bubble filled area. Made the glass absolutely perfect!

  • bober 9 Apr, 2013

    We like it and we also like to see the high scores for silver reflective tape used for safety vest and garment to sew on.

  • Jack03 9 Feb, 2013

    I tried this with castor sugar and made thing more delicious ... (

  • Michelle Collins 9 Dec, 2012

    This was great. I didn't use her cupcake recipe, I just bought box mix. I used the her candy recipe for the glass. The first time I didn't cook it long enough and it wouldn't harden, the second time I cooked too long and it was a clear golden color. It was still cool because it looked like colored glass. for the blood I used white frosting and red food coloring. I warmed it in microwave to make it drizzle over the glass candy pieces in the cupcakes...everyone loved the cupcakes and glass!

  • Keondra Hunter 28 Oct, 2012


  • lasvegasmom 26 Oct, 2012

    I am really glad I read some of the reviews to see how to make the broken glass. I made it right on the first try and it came out perfectly and crystal clear with no bubbles. I combined the sugar and water and used a candy thermometer. Start the heat out on high. Once it starts to boil, turn it down to medium high. After this point, it took about 15 minutes for it to reach 300. When I poured it out onto the silpat, it was bubbly, so I spread it out with an angled pastry saptula. No bubbles!

  • UUjerri1 17 Oct, 2012

    I also want to share that my husband explained that water won't rise above 212 degrees, so at 212 all you're waiting for is the water to evaporate. This is what takes the most time. Once the water has evaporated off the temperature will begin to rise, rather quickly, to the hard crack level (302 degrees). Then, take it off pronto! Pour on to Silpat and when it's cool it will be hard like glass. No need to grease Silpat. It's not as clear as the photo but it's probably touched up.

  • UUjerri1 17 Oct, 2012

    OK, I read and reread all your comments. I asked my husband to read all your comments and on the third try of this caramel recipe I DID IT! The first try I let it go too long and it crystalized. The second time I took it off to too soon and it was gooey. The third time I didn't take my eyes off the candy thermometer and waited about 45 min. before it got up to hard crack. I also used a stainless steel sauce pan. Whew, thank you for all your comments! Yes, Martha's staff messed this one up

  • UUjerri1 12 Oct, 2012

    What would an ombre look look like? You mean the glass?

  • Basma Bianuni 10 Oct, 2012

    I love the glass idea, it would be more fun to get an ombre look as well !!

  • BakingRN 6 Nov, 2011

    This method will work.*You NEED a candy thermometer*Put sugar and water in saucepan, set temp to medium*No need to stir, it will slowly come to a boil all by itself *It will sit around 200 for a while*Be patient & increase temp slightly*When it reaches 302 (about 30min)*hard crack not hard ball as stated in video*pour onto Silpat *Cloudy glass is due to the butter used on your sheet pan*it cools quickly all on it's own*Dear site mgr, the directions need to be baker friendly, we want to succeed!

  • jlkh 31 Oct, 2011

    I made these cupcakes and shared with my friends who thought they were very delicious--which they were. Everything turned out well except my broken glass was frosted. I must have cooked them too long possibly. But, cupcakes were very yummy.

  • Dogfool 31 Oct, 2011

    I finally settled on the THIRD batch of the "broken glass" which had turned amber. I cooled it on a Silpat sheet in a cookie pan, then broke it into shards. The effect is very realistic. BUT BE WARNED: THIS BROKEN "SUGAR GLASS" IS JUST AS SHARP AS REAL GLASS AND IT WILL CUT YOU AS QUICKLY! It would be totally irresponsible to serve this to children and adults alike.

  • Dogfool 31 Oct, 2011

    For someone who is such a perfectionist, I can't believe that Martha Stewart would allow such an unclear recipe to be posted! I wasted 3 cups of sugar and several hours of my precious time this morning trying to make that "broken glass". The recipe is sorely lacking in directions, i.e. cooking time, temperature of the syrup, etc. AWFUL mess!

  • pissedatmartha 29 Oct, 2011

    DO NOT MAKE THIS RECIPE! The broken glass is a nightmare and I had to throw out four pans - not to mention wasted a lot of money on sugar. How could you not have provided more instruction? Crap recipe. I am so pissed I want to throw these cupcakes outside. I will NEVER subscribe to this [filtered word]ty magizine again. Thanks for nothing, Martha!

  • InnerMartha 29 Oct, 2011

    Like other reviewers, I had many unsuccessful attempts making the broken glass. I think I tried it 5 times. I also eventually settled on yellow glass that looks like tempered glass. And I only got a batch that was acceptable after consulting other cookbooks on making hard crack. I learned that you have to spread the glass on the cookie sheet thin, but not too thin! The cream cheese frosting is easy to make and delicious. Overall, I'm pleased with the result, even if the glass is yellow.

  • ErinGoBlah 28 Oct, 2011

    Okay, I tried the recipe I referenced earlier, and the "glass" came out yellow. Since I've already wasted enough sugar, I'm just going with it.

  • ErinGoBlah 27 Oct, 2011

    After three unsuccessful attempts at making the "broken glass", I found this very detailed recipe. I actually haven't tried it yet, but with clear detailed instructions (and photos!), I'm pretty confident I'll have a better chance with this one.

  • OneMoreDavis 26 Oct, 2011

    TERRIBLE directions for the glass. I'm on attempt #5! Thanks for sending the anglefire link. Martha's staff usually does a much better job than this.

  • wndywoo 26 Oct, 2011

    It didn't work! PLEASE add more directions in your recipie. How long do I boil it for? Do I stir it? Do I spray my pan? Can someone please give more step by step directions if they have successfully tried this recipie. Thanks!

  • SWEETZA 25 Oct, 2011

    HORRIBLE RECIPE! Wish they told me to GREASE the PAN with BUTTER before pouring the goop on it. The last batch stuck to the pan - never to come out. I threw the pan out into my backyard I was so mad. The second batch turned WHITE when I poured it on non-stick aluminum and refrigerated. The third batch is sticky and not hard as glass. WHAT THE HECK MARTHA? YOU OWE ME 5 POUNDS OF SUGAR! Beth in Connecticut

  • hirise2 25 Oct, 2011

    Terrible directions for the glass- as in- none at all. How long should it take? I didn't stir after sugar dissolved and let it bubble for about 40 minutes to 300 degree and then it crystalized. Pour it on sheet ban and couldn't get it out. Started over and this time wouldn't crack. Waste of time and sugar. Really, bad directions. Gave up. Won't bother with the cupcakes. Don't pour on a non stick pan. It leaches and wrecks your pan. Awful recipe.

  • CaliMom1980 24 Oct, 2011

    I left this glass recipe the way it was except I just boiled it the entire time for about 7-8 minutes, and it worked beautifully! Great recipe!

  • katiepie89 22 Oct, 2011
    Let it get to 300 degrees before you pour it. I followed the second recipe on this site with success (after four failures with this glass recipe)..Cupcakes turned out delicious!

  • tpqvc 22 Oct, 2011

    Having a hard time getting the glass to harden! How long do you boil it for? Any other tips?!

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