Caramelized Apple Cupcakes with Spiced Cider Buttercream

Caramelized Apple Cupcakes with Spiced Cider Buttercream


For this post, I am going to take a cue from what is now being called “The Best Emmy Speech of All Time.”  Even if you didn’t watch the telecast (which was somewhat depressing–not only because of the excessive time spent remembering deceased celebrities but because neither Aaron Paul nor Bryan Cranston won awards for their work in “Breaking Bad”), you have likely seen footage of this profound moment.

(And if you have not, you can watch it here.)


Part of my reason for doing this is because I tend to be a bit long-winded at times, with my posts going on much longer than originally intended. I thought it would be nice to give you a break with this post.

Part of my reason is that I have managed to build up a to-do list that is longer than the Emmy broadcast itself, and I need to get going on it rather than ramble on about my inspiration for this post.  In case you can’t tell, it was APPLES.

Part of my reason is, well, these cupcakes speak for themselves.  Try them.  You won’t regret it.


So, with that said…..

“Um, I gotta go. Bye.”  -Merrit Wever, 2013

Caramelized Apple Cupcakes with Spiced Cider Buttercream

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Caramelized Apple Cupcakes with Spiced Cider Buttercream

If you love apples, these are the cupcakes for you! The batter contains a generous amount of shredded apples that have been sauteed in butter then simmered in their own juices, yielding a rich flavor and a moist texture. Reduced spiced cider flavors a traditional Swiss buttercream and cheery fondant apples adorn the top.


    For the Cupcakes
  • 4 cups, packed (1 L) peeled and grated tart apples
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) canola or safflower oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups (560 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • For the Buttercream
  • 3-1/2 cups (875 mL) apple cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cusp (300 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 2 cups (500 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Fondant, red and brown food coloring (optional, see note)


  1. Squeeze the juice from the grated apples into a glass measuring cup or a bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring until it becomes golden brown and fragrant. Add the apples and sugar; toss to coat.
  3. Add the reserved apple juice to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing excess juice from the apples with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula, until all of the liquid has evaporated and the apples are golden, 10-12 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Line two 12-cup muffin/cupcake tins with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the apples with the granulated and brown sugars until well combined, and then mix in the oil. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until blended. Mix in the nuts.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool cupcakes for 10 minutes in tins then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  8. Prepare the buttercream: Place the cider in a medium saucepan and add the cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until the cider is slightly syrupy and has reduced to about 2/3 cup (160 mL), 15-20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves and discard; cool cider to room temperature.
  9. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the clean bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, whisking constantly until the mixture is opaque and very warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.
  10. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and attach the bowl containing the egg whites. Beat the egg whites at high speed until they have completely cooled and are glossy, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the butter, about 2 tbsp (30 mL) at a time, until the mixture comes together in a thick buttercream consistency. Gradually add the cooled cider, mixing until blended.
  11. To decorate: You can either spread the buttercream onto the cupcakes using a knife or an offset spatula, or you can transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip to pipe the buttercream in a swirl. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 2 days. Bring the cupcakes to room temperature before serving.


The fondant apples are optional, but they make a nice presentation for a bake sale or a party. Simply color fondant red and brown using gel paste or food coloring (wear gloves -- fondant stains!!) Roll the red fondant into small balls, tapering the bottoms slightly. Roll the brown fondant into thin ropes and cut into short pieces for the stems. Using the end of a skewer, make a small indent on the top of the apples and insert the "stem", adhering with a bit of water.


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