Fluffy and moist cupcakes full of apple cinnamon flavor and topped with the perfect toffee frosting.
Most cupcakes I’ve made over the past few years have been pretty typical: vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, coffee, etc. However, on my last visit to New York and its hundreds of cupcake bakeries, I realized there’s a whole world of cupcakes out there that I’ve been missing out on. One of the flavor combinations that stuck with me was apples and caramel, so this is my special treat for you today.
These cupcakes are fluffy and moist and tender, exactly what you’d expect from a comforting apple cake. It has wonderful wintery flavors, so let’s just pretend it’s not 40° Celsius outside right now.
And then there’s the frosting. I usually don’t like overly sweet frostings, so the idea of adding caramel to a sugar-based frosting didn’t sound too tempting. Turns out though that it isn’t any sweeter than a classic buttercream frosting and, when combined with the apple cupcakes, it is perfection. I usually just use a can of store-bought dulce de leche instead of making a homemade caramel and it tastes AMAZING.
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- 1⅓ cups (185 g/6.5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup (100 g/3.5 oz) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100 g/3.5 oz) brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- 1 medium apple (125 g/1 cup), peeled and finely chopped
- ¾ cup (170 g/6 oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 cups (230 g/8 oz) powdered sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
- 3-4 tablespoons (55 g/2 oz) dulce de leche or caramel
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Add milk and beat until combined. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and beat slowly only until combined. Fold in apple pieces. Do not over mix—the less you mix, the lighter the cupcakes will be.
- Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow pan to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
- To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition until smooth. Add caramel and vanilla and beat until smooth and fluffy. Beat in more sugar if needed until desired consistency (thick enough to pipe). Frost cupcakes with frosting.
- Cupcakes can be kept tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.