This fall I’ve already baked no less than five caramel apple desserts. Here’s the thing: I don’t even like actual caramel apples! I don’t like how the caramel gets all stuck to your teeth and how the first bites you usually can’t even get through the caramel to the apple. And then once you get through the caramel it’s not even chocolate or nougat filled. No, there’s fruit. Such a disappointment. So no thank you, caramel apples. I’ll pass.
But caramel apple-esque desserts and baked goods? Oh heck yes. Count me in. Between caramel apple crisp, caramel apple bread, and caramel apple french toast casserole, I will get my fill of caramel apples without ever touching an actual caramel apple.
Of course I couldn’t stop there and I am now swooning over my new favorite caramel apple treat: caramel apple cupcakes. They are such a fun and delicious fall treat.
The cupcakes are a simple vanilla cupcake with apple pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and then filled with shredded apples. I shredded the apples instead of chopping them so there aren’t big chunks throughout, to keep the texture more cupcake-like, but still legitimately apple cupcakes.
Then there’s the caramel frosting. I might have died a little when I licked the spatula (quality control purposes!) and then a second time when I tasted it on the cupcakes. It’s oh so decadent and paired perfectly with the apple cupcakes.
I went ahead and drizzled the cupcakes with more caramel sauce after they were frosted just to emphasize that caramel flavor and also because why the heck not? No one has ever been mad about extra caramel, I’m pretty sure.
So whether you’re a caramel apple fan in its truest sense or just in all of the dessert spin offs, you are going to love these cupcakes either way.
- For the Cupcakes:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 cup 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded apples about 2 medium apples, unpeeled
- For the Caramel Buttercream:
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce
- Additional caramel sauce for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
- In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until well combined about 1 minute.
- Add egg and vanilla, beating well to combine.
- Add half of flour mixture, and beat until combined, then add half of buttermilk and beat until combined.
- Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk.
- Fold in shredded apples.
- Fill cupcake liners ~2/3 of the way full.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting:
- In large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well between each addition.
- Add salt, vanilla, and caramel sauce and beat until well combined.
- Frost cooled cupcakes.
- Drizzle with additional caramel sauce.
- Store in the refrigerator in airtight container for up to 3-4 days.