Jordin Sparks' Spiced Double-Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

Whether you bring them to your kid's school bake sale or best friend's birthday party, Jordin Sparks' fluffy cupcakes will be devoured in a flash. To prevent yourself from accidentally eating the entire batch, however, Marcela Valladolid recommends adding cayenne into the frosting; research has shown that the pepper could curb your appetite, and the kick will help keep you aware of each bite you take. If you want to get the perfect amount of frosting in every mouthful, don't be afraid to cut the cake in half and make a sandwich around the sweet topping!

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1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4-6 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup store-bought caramel sauce, for garnish

For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.


2. Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and one teaspoon of salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and two teaspoons of vanilla. Add the dry mixture to the wet in batches and then pour in the hot water.


3. Evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.


For the frosting:

1. Place the butter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use either a hand mixer or the whisk attachment for the stand mixer to whip the butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.


2. In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar, remaining 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in until the mixture is a pale chocolate color and is light and fluffy. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 4 to 6 tablespoons of the cream.


3. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes with a butter knife or place in a piping bag fitted with a pastry tip and pipe over the top of the cupcake. Drizzle each cupcake with spoonfuls of caramel sauce and enjoy.