A dreamy caramel apple cupcake is just what your Tuesday needs.
I’m ridiculously excited to share this DELICIOUS little baked good with you. Especially because it’s that time of year again. When the scents of apple crisps, apple cinnamon pork tenderloins, and bourbon apple butter waft through the house. When apple cider moscow mules, apple cider floats, and apple cider slushies are drank by the pitcher. It’s APPLE SEASON!
During this whole COVID pandemic, I’ve been trying to make Audrey’s life as normal as possible. Which means I’m going really strong on the seasonal activities. So, this past weekend, Audrey and I headed to Paulus Mt. Airy Orchards down in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. It was my first time ever going to an orchard, but it definitely won’t be my last! This place was huge – hosting more than 25 different varieties of apples on 150 acres. We quickly accumulated 16 pounds of apples. And I mean quick. Like 20 minutes tops.
Then we headed over to the PlayLand and got lost in their 5 acre corn maze. We ended up having to follow another group that was using a map, because the maze was so intricate, we couldn’t figure out how to get out. Whoops. There were a bunch of other activities they had geared towards children like pedal carts, tube slides, a jumping pillow and even a cow train. But due to the current circumstances, we skipped on most of them.
Then after an exhausting day, we headed over to Karen’s Kitchen for burgers, pulled pork, apple chili and apple cider floats before picking up a few mum plants and pumpkins to decorate the front of our home with.
And now I can’t stop thinking about what I’m going to do with all of those apples. Apple sauce. Apple strudel. Apple fritters.
But despite all these apple recipes popping up in my mind, my absolute favorite way to eat an apple is a caramel apple.
A crisp, juicy apple dipped into a soft, sticky, and sweet caramel (and then typically dipped in chocolate and covered in candies, nuts, and more chocolate). So I created a cupcake that encompasses my favorite apple treat. One that, surprisingly, isn’t stuffed with something or topped with ten different toppings.
It’s simple. It’s good. And it’s the perfect apple season treat.
Small Batch Caramel Apple Cupcakes
for the cucpake:
- 1/4 c. butter, melted & cooled
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 tbsp. milk*
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2/3 c. shredded apple (about 1 medium sized apple)
for the salted caramel
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 3 tbsp. butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp. salt
for the salted caramel buttercream
- 6 tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1/4 c. of the salted caramel
- 1 tbsp. milk*
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 6 cupcake liners. Set aside.
Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and sugar together in a medium bowl until well-combined. Whisk in the egg until the mixture is smooth, and then add the vanilla extract and milk. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together into another medium-sized bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir gently until combined. Fold in the apples.
Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove f rom the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
While the cupcakes are cooking, put the sugar for the salted caramel sauce into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Once the sugar begins to melt, stir gently. When all the sugar has melted, keep a close eye on the color of the melted sugar. You want the caramelization to be a rich amber color, but you don’t want it to burn (this will take about 5 minutes). Once it reaches the desired color, add the butter, whisking until it is completely melted. Then, remove the caramel from heat, and carefully add the heavy cream while continuing to whisk (the caramel will bubble up at this point). Once the caramel is smooth, add in the salt, and set aside to cool completely.
Once the caramel has completely cooled, prepare your buttercream!
In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the beater attachment, beat the softened butter and powdered sugar together until completely smooth. Add in 1/4 cup of the cooled caramel sauce and, if necessary, 1 tablespoon of milk until your buttercream frosting is at a consistency that is soft enough to pipe, but stiff enough to hold its shape once piped.
To assemble: Using a 1M piping tip, pipe a large dollop of salted caramel buttercream frosting on top of your cupcake. Then, spoon a tablespoon of remaining caramel sauce on top. Stick 1/2 of a popsicle stick into the top of the cupcake to resemble a caramel apple.
* I use almond milk because it’s what I typically have on hand – although any milk would work here.