Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Dulce de Leche Buttercream:
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
- 1/4 cup dulce de leche (homemade or store-bought)
- 3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1–2 tablespoons cream, half-and-half or whole milk, at room temperature
For the Sugar Skull Tortilla Chips:
- Mi Rancho Mini Mamas Flour Tortillas (or Mi Rancho flour tortillas of your choice)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Sugar skull cookie cutters
Note: the edible marigold flowers are optional.
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, both the white and brown sugars, the oil, and the vanilla.
- Pour half of the egg and sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. Then add half of the buttermilk. Gently whisk and then repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Stir until just combined being careful not to overmix.
- Spoon the batter into the liners filling them only 1/2 way (about 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake). The batter will rise, so don’t overfill.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway to ensure even baking. If you’re not sure if the cupcakes are done, you can stick a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If it comes out clean, they’re ready.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and the dulce de leche on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the cream (or milk or half-and-half). Beat on low speed until some of the sugar is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
- Adjust if necessary. If the frosting is too thick, add more cream (one tablespoon at a time) until you get the desired texture. You can also add more sugar if it’s too thin.
- Use frosting immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
For the Tortilla Sugar Skulls:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place a tortilla onto a cutting board and use your cookie cutter to press out the desired design. Place onto a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until you have all your sugar skulls ready to bake.
- Combine the sugar and cinnamon together and adjust to taste.
- Brush the tortilla sugar skulls with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Place into the oven and bake until they are just starting to turn golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.
- Let them cool completely before using. They will last for 2-3 days if stored in an air-tight container.