Caramel Apple Cupcakes

It’s that time of the year again… Halloween! For me Halloween has always been the beginning of the fall season. Cool temperatures, apple orchards, caramel cider and beautiful fall colors all over Michigan’s landscape.

Every major holiday I make some time of “goodie” for Scott and I to take to work with us for our co-workers. Normally I have a pretty good of idea of what I am going to make each holiday, as I spend weeks thinking about it; however, this year I was pretty much in limbo. Two weeks ago I asked Scott what he wanted me to make this year and he immediately responded with caramel apples.

For two weeks I had an internal debate with myself about caramel apples. To be honest, I am not the world’s biggest caramel apple fan and they sounded plain and boring. Finally, this weekend the idea hit me… caramel apples would be great if I made them into a cupcake! As soon as the idea hit me, I knew I had a winner.

This recipe is one of the best fall cupcakes I have ever had! The cupcake itself without frosting is amazingly moist and reminds of you fall. Out of the 100 cupcakes I made, I set 5 aside to keep unfrosted just so I could have the cake part! The frosting is fairly rich, so I would use a light hand when frosting the cupcakes. This cupcake recipe would make amazing bread for breakfast and I cannot wait until I have the chance to turn this into caramel apple bread!

Both of our co-workers raved about these cupcakes, as did our friends who received them. I am confident this will not be the last time this fall that these cupcakes are made! Note: Please pardon the photo! I was in such a zone baking that I forgot to take a photo before I had them all packaged and ready to go!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
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For the Apple Mixture:
2 Granny Smith Apples, diced
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Dark Karo Syrup
1 Tbsp. Hot Water
1 Tbsp. Corn Starch

For the Cupcakes:
2 Cups Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1/4 Cup Apple Juice
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
1 Cup Apple Mixture, cooled

For the Frosting:
1 Cup Butter, room temperature
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Pound Powdered Sugar
3-5 Tbsp. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
4-5 Tbsp. Caramel Syrup

For the Topping:
Caramel Syrup
Chopped Nuts, if desired

For the Apple Mixture: In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat stir together all the ingredients. Bright everything to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Se the mixture aside to cool completely, which will take about 20-30 minutes.

For the Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two cupcake pans with paper liners for a total of 24 cupcakes.

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the sugar, eggs, oil, applesauce, apple juice and vanilla. Whisk the mixture on medium-slow speed until well mixed. Remove the whisk attachment from the stand mixture and put on the paddle attachment.

In a medium sized mixing bowl stir, whisk or sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add half of the flour mixture into the bowl of the stand mixture and turn the mixture on low speed. Slowly add the remaining flour mixture until the mixture is combined. Do not over mix your batter! Fold in the apple mixture.

Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out cleanly. Rotate your pans half way through the cooking time.

Cool cupcakes in the pans for 3-5 minutes, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, caramel syrup and the powdered sugar and with the mixer on a low speed, slowly begin to beat until smooth. Add the heavy whipping cream 1 Tbsp. at a time to loosen mixture, until the mixture is a frosting consistency, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, top the cupcakes with the caramel buttercream frosting. Drizzle the tops with caramel syrup and top if chopped nuts or other caramel apple toppings, if desired.

Source: adapted slightly from Java Cupcakes

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