In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a 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 1/2 full with batter.
Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan 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.
Caramel Buttercream Icing
In a 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.
To Assemble: Ice cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream Icing. Drizzle with remaining caramel topping; sprinkle with sea salt.