Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

in Cakes & Cupcakes, Cinco de Mayo, Dulce de Leche, Mexican & TexMex

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

If I had to describe these dulce de leche cupcakes in a single word, I’d have to go with, “excessive.” Excessively sweet. Excessively named. (No really, look at the recipe title below. That’s 11 words.) Excessively indulgent. Excessively delicious, if there were such a thing.

We’ve been on a toothache-inducing dulce de leche kick lately, putting it into ice cream and frosting, and on fresh peaches and cake… and on a spoon. We couldn’t stop there, though. None of that really qualified as excessive. (Okay, maybe licking it from a spoon does.)

What did qualify? A moist, perfectly domed dulce de leche cupcake with caramel & vanilla notes, topped with a dulce de leche swiss meringue buttercream frosting. And to make sure there wasn’t a drop left in the can, we filled the cupcakes with the dulce de leche that was leftover after making the cake and frosting. Excessive. And efficient!

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

For the cupcake recipe, I started with the classic 1234 cake. It’s reliable, domes beautifully, and is convertible to just about any flavor. The frosting is one of our favorites, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Classic Swiss Meringue, it’s the same dulce de leche swiss meringue buttercream that we used on the Peach Queen Cake.

Note: If you’re a liberal froster, doubling the recipe will yield a couple cups of leftovers, even after generously frosting your cupcakes. If you don’t want leftover frosting hanging around in your fridge, consider making 1 1/2 recipes instead of doubling or possibly frosting them with a lighter hand than I use

Having problems with your swiss meringue buttercream? Read how to fix it here.

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Moist dulce de leche cupcake filled with dulce de leche and topped with dulce de leche swiss meringue buttercream frosting.



  1. Make the dulce de leche and let cool to room temperature (this can be done well in advance, just store tightly covered in the fridge).
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Line two muffin pans with paper liners.
  4. Cream butter and sugar on med-high for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times, until light, fluffy, and no longer grainy.
  5. Scrape down the bowl and add 1/2 cup dulce de leche, mixing on medium for another 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly incorporated.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla.
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt together, in three additions, alternating with two additions of the buttermilk, mixing until just incorporated.
  8. Scoop batter into the lined cups, filling 2/3 - 3/4 full.
  9. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned and a skewer in the center cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.
  12. To fill the cupcakes using the leftover dulce de leche after making the frosting, take a serrated knife and cut a cone out of the top of the cupcake, drop ~1 1/2 tsp into the cupcake, cut the bottom of the cone off and place the flattened top back onto the cupcake, lightly pressing down.
  13. How to fill a cupcakeHow to fill a cupcake How to fill a cupcakeHow to fill a cupcake
  14. Frost and store covered for up to 4 days.


Yields: 24 cupcakes

Source: Cake from Confections of a Foodie Bride, frosting adapted from Martha Stewart

Estimated time: 1 hour 30 minutes

40 comments… add one

  • These look amazing! Excessively delicious works for me:-)

  • Wow! I bet these are amazing.

  • That’s it. I am making these in the next available timeslot (which may not be for a while, but trust me, it’s going to happen.) they look AMAZING i love your photography.

  • Oooooh Yum! I could totally eat like 5 of these. Gorgeous pictures, too, Shawnda!

  • Excessive is right! These cupcakes are gorgeous, but my teeth hurt just from looking at them. One question: after a day, do the cakes start to absorb the filling?

    • Just a little – the ddl is really thick so it doesn’t absorb into the cake like a fruit puree would. If you cut one in half on day 3 or 4, the ddl will still slowly run out of the center.

  • Oh how lovely and amazing. I don’t think any cupcake can be excessive!

  • Those look incredible 😀 Love the dulce de leche filling – omg yum 😀

  • Allyssa

    Wow. I can’t wait to try these! They look amazing.

  • Um, yum. I love everything about these!

  • Wow! I sincerely hope you deliver.

  • When it comes to dulce de leche, i say go big or go home. And you went big. Love it.

  • These are dreamy.

  • This looks so good. I love anything with caramel or in the caramel family. can’t wait to try this!

  • Please come live with me and I will pay you GENEROUSLY to make batch after batch of these and your other treats :) I dont think there is a post of yours i havnt sat gawping at your gorgeous photos and sinfully delicious looking recipes. lovely!

  • Taylor Bailey

    It reminds me of an asian delicacy called leche flan. I’m pretty sure that your cupcake will taste a bit of it with the leche on it.

  • Oh I bet these are soooooooo good!!

  • Not only is that big pillow of icing on the top, but in the middle too?? OMG – girl these look fantastic!

  • Your frosting looks so pillowy and delicious!

  • These looks unbelievably yummy, not to mention lovely to look at. Thanks.

  • I really just want the ooey gooey centre. I’m getting all giddy with happiness just thinking about it.

  • Wow! These look so good! I’ve been meaning to make up my own can of Dulce de leche–this seems like the perfect opportunity!

  • These look so delicious! I love dulce de leche so I’ll have to give them a try :)

  • These do look sweet, but so worth it. Yum!

  • I’m confused on the amount of dulce de leche. Is it 14 ounces total – 1/2 cup in the cake, 1/3 cup in the frosting, and the rest as filling in the cupcakes? Because the ingredient list lists dulce de leche twice – 14 ounces and then 1/2 cup. This originally made me think I needed more than one can, but then I saw that the recipe instructions only call for dulce de leche to be added once.

  • Crikeymum

    About to make these this second, and i actually made my own dulce de leche. Have my hopes up, so let you know how goes.

  • Becca

    Unapologeticly Sweet…That’s the warning I put on them and they still disappeared (luckily before I got to eat more than one…or three). I look at your gorgeous pictures and then ooh over the recipes and know I just have to make whatever it is, but I mini them and take them off to work. That way I get the fun of trying new things (that always turn out as fabulous or even better than I expect), but I don’t gain 50 pounds shoving them all in my mouth. Thank you!!!!

  • Annabelle

    This looks so yummy. I have been looking for a great vanilla recipe for a vanilla cupcaked filled with nutella. You mention the 1234 cake, what exactly is this ? or could Iuse this recipe and just take out the dulce de leche from the recipe.


    • 1234 = 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs. It’s easy to remember! You can remove the dulce de leche from the recipe and increase the milk/buttermilk to 1 cup. Also, increase the sugar to 2 cups. That will get you a plain vanilla cupcake!

  • Manu

    Hi! I’m a big meringue and ddl fan (or manjar as we call it in Chile) but not so keen on buttery icings as a whole, and was wondering if the swiss meringue buttercream tasted more like a meringue or a buttercream. Weird question, I know! :) Thanks!

    • It has the texture of a buttercream. As far as the taste, it’s just very, very sweet. Lots of vanilla/caramel notes with some butter notes.

  • Jeri

    I’m assuming this recipe calls for all purpose flour (and not cake flour). Just wanted to confirm. Thanks! I love your blog and this recipe looks so delicious!

  • Rachel

    Omg! Trying it this week! Could I replace buttermilk with anything else? It is really hard to find it where Im from

    • You could really use anything – whole milk, plain yogurt… or you could add 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar to a 1/2 cup measuring cup and then fill the rest with milk. Let it sit 10 minutes and proceed.

  • Michelle Zucker

    Hi Shawnda,
    Just made these for my twin boy’s preschool graduation party.
    Thanks so much! I love your site.
    I am from Israel.

  • I have a cupcake blog called My Year of Cupcakes. I featured your Dulce de Leche Cupcake recipe on Day 126. Here’s the link if you wanna take a look: http://myyearofcupcakes.com/2013/12/04/day-126-dulce-de-leche-cupcakes/

    Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  • Odelle Smith (U.K.)

    Yes, I’m going to enjoy these very much, many thanks for sharing this awesome recipe filled with my favorite dulce-de-leche…
    A great, easy to follow recipe, great way to use up frosting from peaches-pecans-dulce de leche cake if there’s any left, if not it’s a good excuse to make more that I can share.
    Love the ‘tips’ for any-one having problems in making this amazing frosting, apologies, I forgot to mention this in previous posts…
    Have pinned recipes, tips, etc.
    Many thanks, much appreciated,
    Odelle Smith. (U.K.)

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