And just like that… it’s October! Time flies, especially when I’m at school. Buried in homework and rushing from class to class has had me crawling into bed exhausted every night, but feeling fulfilled. There’s no better feeling for me than learning and improving myself every day.
Today’s recipe is a new autumn essential: apple spice cupcakes. It combines the amazingly simple salted caramel from my last post with moist, apple spice cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, and a sprinkle of crushed pecans on top.
This cupcake is definitely a new classic in my book. I wanted to make something that had a lot of apple flavor coming through, but didn’t want apple chunks in the cupcake, and didn’t require any special flavor extracts. The solution? Applesauce! I used an apples-only brand without any additional sweetener or flavoring to give these cupcakes a pure, just-bitten apple taste, and I tossed in a bunch of warm, fall spices into the batter to accentuate that.
These cupcakes aren’t too sweet – they’re leaning more toward muffin than cupcake – which balances quite well with the tangy cream cheese frosting and the ample drizzle of salted caramel on top! I donated these babies to a bake sale and they were gone in minutes! Get ready for a new family favorite.
I chopped up an apple bite for the top of each cupcake and sprinkled on some pecan bits and cinnamon. In my opinion, the more garnishes and details a cupcake has, the better! It amps up a cupcake from a simple birthday party treat to a high-quality dessert suitable for any occasion.
Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes
Adapted from The Toasty Kitchen
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 22 minutes
Yield: 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting and garnish
- 1/2 package cream cheese, at room temperature (4 ounces)
- 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup crushed pecans
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (for sprinkling)
- 12 small pieces of diced fresh apple
- 1/4 cup of homemade salted caramel – here’s my recipe!
- Preheat your oven to 350*F and line a cupcake pan with liners.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the sugar, softened butter, and egg on high speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Add in the applesauce and vanilla, and beat until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and baking soda.
- On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat until just combined.
- Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for 22 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before popping them out onto a wire rack or plate to finish cooling.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
- Add in 1 cup of the powdered sugar on low speed and mix, then add in the second cup half on low speed until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until fluffy and smooth – another minute or two.
- When the cupcakes are completely cooled, fit a piping bag with your tip of choice (I used a star), and fill with frosting. Pipe as desired and top with a sprinkle of pecans, a dash of cinnamon, and an apple piece. Don’t forget a generous drizzle of caramel sauce!