Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with baking cups.
In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla. Alternately add dry ingredients with milk, scraping bottom and sides of bowl often. Fill baking cups 2/3 full with batter.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until Cake Tester or toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on cooling grid. Immediately poke cupcakes with fork; spoon 1 teaspoon caramel topping onto each cupcake. Reserve remaining topping. Cool 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.
In large bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer until creamy. Add caramel topping and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time; beat until light and fluffy.
Ice cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream Icing; if desired, decorate with tip 2A swirls. Drizzle with remaining caramel topping; sprinkle with sea salt.