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Salted Vanilla Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream

March 16, 2018 by Nicole Collins

Who’s ready to party like they’re Irish tomorrow?

I know I am!

But, I’m actually Irish, so I think that means I get to double celebrate. I mean, I am going to 2 parties tomorrow…

Yup, totally ready to wear my green loud and proud.

One of the parties is a potluck, so I knew I was bringing dessert. I had originally had this trifle in my mind that I wanted to make. But, it involved chocolate. And, we all know that I can’t have chocolate right now. I didn’t want to feed anyone anything that I hadn’t tasted first (<-- the excuse that helps me sleep at night). So, if I can’t have it, you can’t have it either.


I knew that I wanted to do something with Baileys, even though creamy liquors creep me out. But, I had this Irish Crème flavored hot chocolate (when I could still have chocolate) that was amazing! So, I wanted to incorporate that flavor somehow in to my St. Patrick’s Day treat.

Since, chocolate was out and coffee was definitely out (obvi!), I was kinda thinking that I wanted to have a salty note to these. And, then I started thinking…salted vanilla!

Here’s where the story takes a funny turn. I think salted vanilla popped in to my mind because of the delicious scent of the Bath and Body works candle. I’ve never really heard of salted vanilla, otherwise. But, I had already burned my candle. So, I reached out to my dear friend, Sultan, with a very odd request. I asked her to give hers a good ol’ sniff and try to describe the scent to me, then tell me how to turn it in to a cupcake.

Not only did she stick her nose DEEP in that candle, she gave me the best description EVER. “Butter, pure vanilla seeped in milk or heavy cream, a pinch or two of salt, a splash of rum for background flavor, and a drizzle of caramel.” I was afraid to ask how long she sat there sniffing that candle to get a description like that.

So, we’re putting her hard work to good use today and making Salted Vanilla Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream!

You know I’m not ashamed to take help from the grocery store when it comes to cupcakes, because you can totally disguise a boxed cake mix. And, we’re doing that again today.

For the cake, we start with a French Vanilla cake mix. That’s going to give us our deep vanilla flavor. To salt it up a bit, we swap out the oil called for in box instructions with melted salted butter; and then we add a little bit of caramel sauce to the batter. We add just enough to deepen the flavor without making the cake taste like caramel. This cake is Let me tell you!

For the frosting, we take a basic buttercream frosting and swap out the heavy cream with Bailey’s Irish Cream. Super simple!

I chose to dye my frosting to stick with the theme; but honestly, you might just devour these all before you even get to making them pretty. They’re that good!

I’m sure these will be a hit at my St. Patrick’s Day party tomorrow, and I hope they’ll be a hit at yours too!

Enjoy, and let’s bake!


Salted Vanilla Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream

Serves: 24 cupcakes Print


For the Cake:

  • 1 box french vanilla cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 stick (½ cup) salted butter, melted

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 tbsp caramel topping

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 cups (1 lb or 1 box) powdered sugar

  • ¼ cup Bailey's Irish Cream

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • pinch of salt

  • green food coloring, optional


  1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 24 cupcake liners. Mix all cake ingredients by hand until everything is combined (roughly 2 mins). (Batter will have lumps.) Fill cupcake lines 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 12-17 mins til tops begin to look golden and a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool.

  2. Make the Frosting: Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium high speed for 30 seconds until butter is smooth and looking creamy. Add the powdered sugar, Bailey's, vanilla, and a pinch of salt to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to incorporate in the butter. Turn up to medium high speed, and finish mixing for about 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  3. Once the cupcakes are completely cool to the touch, decorate the cupcakes any way you like! If desired, take half of the icing and dye it green with gel food coloring. To swirl the colors, spread green icing along one side of a piping bag and white along the other side. Pipe frosting as normal.

Recipe notes:

*I'm generally a Betty Crocker cake mix girl, but I preferred these cupcakes using Duncan Hines. If you want to use Betty Crocker cake mix, use 1 ½ sticks salted butter and 1 ½ tbsp caramel sauce.

*These can sit tightly covered at room temperature for 2-3 days. If by chance they last any longer than that, pop them in the fridge.

*I've always mixed box cake mixes by hand. This isn't an official ruling, but I believe that mixing by hand prevents over mixing which in turn leads to a fluffier cake. The batter is thin enough that it's not a struggle to do. That's what I tell myself anyway!

*If you can't or don't want to use Bailey's alcohol, you can substitute equal amounts of Irish Cream flavored coffee creamer.

*For the amount of frosting I used in my pictures, you need 1 ½ recipes of frosting.

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