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Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

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Fluffy buttercream drizzled with caramel and crunchy sweet walnuts on top of tender apple cider cupcakes and gooey caramel center. Your favorite childhood fall treat in a cupcake!

Soft, tender cupcakes, laced with rich apple flavor and a buttery, gooey caramel center with a sprinkle of salt. A cupcake twist on the classic fall treat, caramel apple cupcakes are finished with fluffy green apple buttercream dripped with more salted caramel and candied walnut pieces.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

Oh hey there October. How ya doing? Unseasonably warm? Ya, we know.

While your ridiculously warm weather makes that tree hugging part of my brain cringe with thoughts of global warming, if we can reap the benefits of a bountiful apple harvest, let’s make the best of the situation.

The best of the situation? All the apple things.  For a quick minute let’s put the pumpkin on hold. Apple, please come and get your time in the spotlight.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

Apple Cider vs Apple Juice

These cupcakes are seriously bursting with apple picking flavors. Apple cider in the batter brings pungent sweet, apple flavor. If you’re new to cider, it’s very different than the apple juice my toddler loves so much. Slightly sweeter with a little bit of an earthy flavor.

If you could turn the smell of an orchard into a beverage, that’s apple cider.

Ok, ok, some companies claim it’s just the label that’s different. But not in Massachusetts. Because we’re so extra about our apples in this state we legit have a page on the MASS.gov website defining the difference between apple cider and apple juice.

For us, it’s mostly the process. Apple cider is the raw juice from the pressing of the apples. No filters, no pasteurization. Pure, unadulterated apple goodness.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

And if you add it to the batter in these caramel apple cupcakes you’re going to get apple goodness twelve times over.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

For these cupcakes you want the cake to taste like apples and to look like a caramel apple. The combination of apple cider, salted caramel and a little help from some food dye is going to get it done.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcake

Once the cupcakes are baked, hollow out the center to pipe in the gooey caramel center. There’s a fancy tool that does this, but you can take the low-budget hack if you’d like. Take a piping tip – preferably a large star tip – insert into the center of the cupcake and give a slight turn. Voila! Hollowed cupcakes.

Fill the centers with caramel. You can make the caramel yourself, use caramel melts from the store, or a jar of ready to use caramel – it will all get the job done! 

For even easier filling, transfer the caramel to a piping bag or plastic sandwich bag with the tip cut off and pipe the caramel into the cupcakes. You’ll want the caramel to be room temperature so it’s not too thick (too cold) or too runny (too hot).

When our cupcake centers are gooey and complete, a swirl of green apple buttercream makes them picture perfect. If traditional buttercream is too sweet for you, I’d highly recommend the salted caramel buttercream from this apple cake. It has cream cheese in the recipe so it’s tangy and less sweet, but it does pipe softer than traditional American buttercream!

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

With caramel in your piping bag and frosting on your cupcakes, drizzle a little on top and sprinkle with some crushed nuts or sprinkles to resemble your favorite childhood caramel apple.

Take a bite and enjoy the sweet satisfaction that this is dessert bliss with a caramel center, never to be left with just an apple.

assortment of cupcakes with green apple frosting and black background

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes

Sweet buttercream sits atop tender, soft cake with a creamy, gooey caramel center.  Drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with crushed walnuts to mirror your favorite childhood caramel apple.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple cider cupcakes, apple cupcakes, caramel apple cupcakes, fall cupcakes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 to 14 cupcakes
Author: Lauren

Ingredients

Apple Cider Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 3/4 cup fresh apple cider

Green Apple Buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter softened but still cool
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon leaf green and 1/8 teaspoon Kelly green dye gel
  • Optional: 1/4 cup glazed chopped walnuts

Small Batch Salted Caramel

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Apple Cider Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  Whisk until combined and set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium speed.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Working in 3 batches alternate adding dry ingredients and apple cider, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix on medium speed until incorporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Using a large cookie scoop or spoon, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 20-22 minutes.

Green Apple Buttercream

  • Beat unsalted butter, on medium high speed for 2 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Add half the confectioners sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated.  Add remaining confectioners sugar and vanilla, mix on low and slowly increase speed to medium, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • On low speed, add apple cider and cinnamon.  Incorporate on medium speed.
  • Add cake dye colors in batches, mixing well before adding more cake dye gel until your desired color is achieved.

Salted Caramel:

  • In a heavy bottom sauce pan combine sugar, corn syrup and water.  Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar melts into a grainy sauce and there are no more lumps – the sugar does not need to be completely melted.  Cook without stirring 8 to 10 minutes until caramel turns amber color and remove from heat.
  • Slowly pour in heavy cream while stirring – mixture will steam and bubble.  Return to heat and cook until the mixture reaches 238°F on a candy thermometer.
  • Transfer caramel to a heat proof bowl and stir in salt.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until it melts completely before adding the next butter.  Allow to completely cool before using.

Assembly

  • Using a cupcake corer tool, or large star piping tip, core the center of the cupcakes.  Fill with salted caramel.  Let settle, adding additional caramel if needed.
  • Transfer buttercream to a large piping bag fitting with a large open star tip.  Pipe three swirls on top of each cupcake.
  • Pipe a small circle of salted caramel on top of the buttercream and let drip over the sides.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts

Notes

  • There will be enough buttercream to frost the cupcakes as seen in the pictures.  If you plan to use less on each cupcake, cut the buttercream recipe in half.
  • Apple cider in buttercream is unpasteurized, store overnight in a refrigerator.
  • Caramel melts or ready made caramel can be substituted if you do not want to make your own caramel.  These should be available in your grocery store baking aisle.

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Recipe Rating




Bernice Hill

Wednesday 22nd of August 2018

This is THE perfect fall cupcake! I love baking with apple cider but I'm sad to think that summer is almost over...

Kate

Monday 16th of October 2017

Caramel apples in cupcake form?! Brilliant!

Joscelyn | Wife Mama Foodie

Saturday 14th of October 2017

Yum, these look and sound delicious! Apple treats are my favorite this time of year!

Melody Butler

Thursday 12th of October 2017

Reading the recipe alone made my mouth water. I love cupcakes and I LOVE apple cider so these are totally a must try!

Akhila@Pepper Delight

Thursday 12th of October 2017

Looks Yum, Perfect fall treats...And beautiful photos :-)