Caramel Apple Cupcakes recipe creates perfectly spiced and fluffy applesauce cupcakes topped with a sweet and creamy caramel buttercream frosting. This treat is like a warm hug on a crisp autumn day.
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Secrets To Perfectly Spiced Applesauce Cupcakes
Within the realm of Fall baking the blend of the spices cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ground ginger transforms ordinary cupcakes into a scrumptious treat. However, the biggest concern many have is whether these spices can be used again. Autumn recipes such as Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies, Old Fashioned Swedish Apple Cake, Apple Crisp and Pumpkin Crisp are a tasty way to not let these spices go to waste.
Complimentary Flavors: Applesauce Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
Caramel Buttercream is the perfect companion to Applesauce Cupcakes. The smooth, buttery texture of the frosting contrasts beautifully with the moist and fluffy texture of the cupcakes. Additionally, the caramel flavor compliments the apple spice beautifully. The two together are luxurious, rich and incredibly satisfying.
Filling Cupcake Liners: Expert Tips
Achieving visually appealing cupcakes starts with the fundamental skill of filling cupcake liners. Here are a few tips:
- Use a Scoop– Invest in a quality ice cream or cookie scoop with a release mechanism. This tool guarantees consistent portion sizes for each cupcake, resulting in uniform baking.
- Fill Two-Thirds Full– Fill each cupcake liner approximately two-thirds full. Overfilling can lead to uneven baking and misshapen cupcakes.
- Level the Batter– After filling, gently tap the cupcake pan on the counter to level the batter and remove air bubbles. This step ensures a smooth surface and even rise during baking.
Top Tips About Caramel Buttercream Frosting
To create a satisfyingly smooth and rich caramel buttercream involves balancing technique with flavor preferences. Here are some invaluable tips to help you achieve a luxurious caramel frosting:
- High-Quality Caramel– Start with a high-quality dark caramel sauce to infuse your buttercream with a deep, luxurious flavor. The quality of your caramel dramatically impacts the taste of the frosting. Note: If using store bought caramel sauce make sure that it is a thick sauce, spreadable at room temperature. If using the Dark Caramel Sauce recipe, the final cooking temperature should be 230℉-235℉ and then cooled to room temperature before making the buttercream.
- Room Temperature Butter and Caramel Sauce– Ensure your unsalted butter is softened to room temperature. Soft butter incorporates smoothly with the caramel sauce, resulting in a creamy and fluffy texture.
- Gradual Sugar Addition– Sift the sugar beforehand to remove lumps and incorporate it in small batches, allowing each addition to blend completely before adding more. This ensures a velvety consistency.
- Texture Control– Use heavy whipping cream only if you need to adjust the frosting’s consistency. Add it in very small increments to achieve the desired smoothness without making the buttercream too runny.
- Mixing Time– Beat the buttercream and caramel until a smooth and consistent texture is achieved. It may take 10 minutes or more but be patient, the extra minutes spent whipping will result in a lighter and more airy texture.
- Sugar Amount– Using the 3 full cups of powdered sugar will yield a rich and very sweet frosting. Some people absolutely adore sweet frostings. However, for those who enjoy a buttercream that isn’t as sweet, lower the powdered sugar accordingly and taste test the frosting as you go.
- All-Purpose Flour– Acts as the base of the cupcake, providing structure and texture. Use the spoon-and-level method to measure, avoiding packing the flour into the measuring cup.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda– Baking powder leavens the cupcakes, making them rise. Baking soda reacts with acids (like buttermilk) for additional leavening. Make sure to test for freshness before using.
- Cinnamon– Cinnamon adds a warm and sweet flavor. Ceylon cinnamon, also known as “true cinnamon,” is often preferred over other varieties due to its distinct mild and sweet flavor profile.
- Nutmeg– Nutmeg has a complex flavor profile characterized by its sweet, slightly spicy, and aromatic notes. It adds warmth and depth to dishes and baked goods without overwhelming other flavors.
- Cloves– Cloves have a powerful and distinctive flavor with notes of sweetness, spiciness, and a hint of bitterness. They add depth and warmth to dishes and baked goods. Cloves have a more intense and assertive taste compared to the subtler notes of nutmeg but help to round out the flavor of these cupcakes.
- Ground Ginger– Ground ginger has a robust and zesty flavor. Its warmth is distinctive, and it provides a hint of spiciness along with a subtle sweetness.
- Unsalted Butter– Adds richness and moisture to the cupcakes. Make sure to soften to room temperature for easy incorporation into the batter.
- Granulated Sugar– Sweetens the cupcakes and contributes to their texture.
- Unsweetened Applesauce– Adds natural sweetness and moisture to the cupcakes, reducing the need for extra fat. Choose unsweetened to control the sugar content.
- Buttermilk– Provides acidity, reacting with baking soda for leavening (raising the batter) and a tender crumb. Also, it enhances the cupcakes’ flavor and moisture.
- Vanilla Extract– Adds aroma and depth of flavor to the cupcakes. Use pure vanilla extract for the best taste.
- Eggs– Eggs bind the ingredients together, providing structure and stability to the cupcakes.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- Caramel Sauce– Use high-quality, dark caramel sauce for a rich, intense flavor profile in the frosting.
- Unsalted Butter– Essential in caramel buttercream frosting for its ability to provide a creamy texture and ensure stability. Make sure to use room temperature butter as it blends better with the other ingredients.
- Powdered Sugar– Also known as confectioners’ sugar, sweetens and thickens the frosting. Sift powdered sugar before adding to avoid lumps, ensuring a smooth consistency in the frosting.
- Vanilla– Enhances the overall taste of the frosting. Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Heavy Whipping Cream (only if needed)– Heavy whipping cream can be added in small quantities to adjust the frosting’s consistency if it’s too thick.
How To Make Caramel Apple Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Line muffin tin with liners.
- Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar. Add applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes.
- Gradually add dry mix. Mix until just combined.
- Fill liners two-thirds full. Bake 18-22 mins, until toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool in tin 5 mins, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- Beat caramel sauce and softened butter until smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar (adjust amount for preferred sweetness level).
- Add vanilla, beat until fluffy.
- If thick, add whipping cream for desired consistency.
- Frost cooled cupcakes immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to store these Apple Caramel Cupcakes?
Because cupcakes can be a bit tricky, I have found using a container like this to make both storage and transporting homemade cupcakes very simple.
How do you prevent the apple slices from turning brown?
To prevent apple slices from turning brown, soak them briefly (about 2-3 minutes) in vanilla vodka. The alcohol content in vodka, along with the vanilla flavor, slows down the oxidation process, keeping the apples fresh and maintaining their natural color for a longer time.
Just make sure to let those eating the cupcakes know that the apple slices were soaked in vodka.
I don’t want to buy a large container of buttermilk. Is there a substitute?
To substitute a 1/4 cup of buttermilk, mix 1/4 cup of milk with about 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and curdles, creating the equivalent of 1/4 cup of buttermilk for these cupcakes.
More Delicious Fall Recipes
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter *softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup buttermilk *see Note #1 below
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup Dark Caramel Sauce *room temperature, see Note #2 below
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter *room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar *sifted, adjust to taste for less sweet buttercream, see Note #3 below
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream *only if needed for desired consistency
- 1/2 cup Dark Caramel Sauce
- 3 apples *cored and sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or using a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the applesauce, then add the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes until well combined.
- Gradually add the dry flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix; stop as soon as there are no visible streaks of flour.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about two-thirds full.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let the cupcakes cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- In a mixing bowl, beat softened butter until creamy and smooth.
- Add caramel sauce and beat until creamy and well incorporated, about 8-10 minutes.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and continue beating until smooth. (Adjust the amount of sugar for your desired sweetness.)
- Add vanilla extract and beat the mixture until fluffy and fully combined.
- If the frosting is too thick, add heavy whipping cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Be cautious not to add too much, as it can make the frosting too runny.
- Frost cupcakes immediately. To achieve the same look as seen in the photos and video, place a large open star decorating tip in the bottom of a pastry bag. Fill bag with frosting and twist the top of the pastry bag right above the level of the frosting. Press the tip in the center of the cupcake and lift your hand while pressing out the frosting.
- Insert an apple slice into the frosted topping of each cupcake.
- Warm 1/2 cup of caramel sauce in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan on low stirring consistently until it becomes warm and pourable.
- Using a spoon or fork, dip into caramel sauce and hold above the cupcakes while slightly moving your hand back and forth.
- Add a sliced apple slice to each cupcake. See Note #4 below.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.