It’s fall and that means that we can officially start talking about pumpkin and apple recipes left and right. Everywhere we turn, there they are. I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you all before or not, but my mom works for the Disney Company; has worked there for 27 years now, and so we went to Disneyland a lot as kids, and my favorite treat there has always been their giant caramel apples. Apples dipped in caramel and rolled around in chopped nuts; synonymous to me with fairs, carnivals and amusement parks. I’m still reminded of those trips as a kid whenever I see a caramel apple to this day. That’s why these cupcakes are very near and dear to my heart. They’re meant to taste and look just like those apples I ate all the time. Spiced apple cake topped with a salted caramel buttercream, drizzled with more caramel and then topped with lots of chopped nuts. It doesn’t get any better than these mini cakes this fall, and thanks to my partnership with Go Bold With Butter this month, now we have a great fall recipe to try out. Keep it up your sleeve just in case you need a show-stopping dessert.
Let’s start by making the apple cake batter for these cupcakes. Since we are calling these caramel apple cupcakes, the apple part comes in the form of this cake batter. Begin by whisk or sifting together the dry ingredients.
**Note: You want this cake batter to be like a spice cake batter, so in order to do this I’ve added pumpkin pie spice, but if you happen to have apple pie spice on hand or just cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, all-spice, and ginger, separately, that would be okay too!**
Beat together the butter and both sugars on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice, mixing until well incorporated.
Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined. You don’t want to over-mix at this stage because if you do, you’ll end up with dry, tough cupcakes.
Peel and grate two large Granny Smith apples and place into a fine mesh sieve. Press down as best you can to remove any excess juice from the grated apples.
**Tip: This step is very important because you don’t want to add any excess liquid to your batter or else it’ll make it too runny and you won’t have the right cake consistency.**
Add the grated apples to the cake batter and fold as best you can; again, making sure to not over-mix.
**Note: This will be a very thick batter, and you might think it’s odd that there is no milk or liquid going into this recipe. This is more like a quick muffin batter than a traditional cake batter, but it’s just as delicious, I promise.**
Line cupcake pans with paper liners and then divide the batter among each. You want to fill them a little above the halfway mark. Try not to overfill the pan or else the cupcakes will spread over the top and you won’t have perfectly even cupcakes.
**Note: I like using an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter, this way they all end up being the same size and shape. A standard ice cream scoop is too much batter, so I only fill the scoop about 3/4 of the way.**
Bake until the cupcakes are puffed up, golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle, comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. In the meantime, let’s make some salted caramel. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar.
Cook over medium high heat, not stirring, until the mixture bubbles and becomes dark amber in color. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set to the side and let cool down completely to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer the caramel (reserving about 1/4 cup of it) to a mixing bowl, and beat in the powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost each with some of the caramel buttercream, drizzle the top with some of the reserved caramel and then cover completely with chopped nuts. Repeat the steps until all the cupcakes have been topped.
To give these cupcakes that caramel apple look, I like to stick a wooden popsicle stick or wooden spoon into each. This is completely optional but I think it’s fun and gives the cupcakes the appearance of a traditional caramel apple.
If you don’t have the time to make the caramel from scratch, you can totally use store-bought salted caramel instead. Also, since you’re drizzling the top of each frosted cupcake with caramel, making a simple plain buttercream would work as well!
Because of the caramel topping, any leftover cupcakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can let them come to room temperature before eating, if you’re not a fan of cold cake.
**Thank you for your continued support of the occasional sponsored post on this site. They help keep the blog going, allowing me to continue to share my recipes with you on a weekly basis. I never want my sponsorships to feel forced, which is why I only partner with companies I feel very passionate about and actually use on a regular basis.**