Yes, cupcakes! Caramel apple cupcakes: fluffy cupcakes flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, filled with homemade caramel apple sauce, and topped with a generous swirl of caramel buttercream, to be exact. And baking is about being exact, right?
I made these delicious cupcakes almost four months (!) ago. When Baby Boy was due in six weeks, fall was in full swing, and I had just made a batch of German caramel buttercream for my Battle of the Buttercreams 2.0 series. Which reminds me, I still haven’t posted about Swiss buttercream yet… Soon guys, soon! Taking care of my beautiful, precious, perfect little boy has proven to be a lot more time-consuming than I had originally ‘planned’. Yeah… I guess was a bit naive…
I read this funny blog post about parenting the other day for which parents were asked to describe parenthood in six words. The answer that really made me laugh?
“I am NOT in charge here”. Haha 😉
Anyway, you’re probably not here to talk about parenting, so let’s talk cupcakes. This is really a fall inspired recipe, but really when have you ever not been able to buy apples at the supermarket? Apples are a year-round fruit, right? So I guess caramel apple cupcakes are a year-round cupcake. Go make these now!
Start by making the caramel apple sauce. It’s really easy and really yummy. It’s like apple sauce, but with a lot (LOT) of caramel. Basically, you cook up a quick caramel, add some delicious homemade apple sauce (unsweetened) and blitz in a blender until it’s smooth and perfect.
Caramel + apple sauce = caramel apple sauce.
Once the caramel apple sauce is done, whip up a batch of vanilla cinnamon cupcakes. I added cubes of apple to the cupcake batter (which you can see in the photos) but in hindsight I think the cupcakes are better without the apple chunks, so I left the fresh apple out of the recipe. The apple chunks in the cake made the entire cupcake very crumbly and the filling is apple-y enough on its own, so I don’t think you really need the apple chunks to get that caramel apple flavor.
The cupcakes are then topped with German caramel buttercream. Which is YUM! But of course you already know all about German caramel buttercream because I blogged about it back in October 🙂
Recap: it’s made by first making caramel, which you then use to make a caramel custard. You then add the cooled caramel custard to fluffy unsalted butter one spoonful at a time, and voilá: caramel German buttercream!
Anyway, Baby Boy just woke up, so I’ll keep it short:
Cupcakes. Apple. Caramel. Buttercream. Deeeelish!
(All you really need to know anyway, right?)
Enjoy this recipe, guys!
Oh, one last thing: I now have Instagram. Love it! Click here to check out my brand new profile. And have you seen my new Mailing List yet? I had a mailing list before, but it never really worked. This new one does, so if you like me to send you an email whenever I post a delicious recipe like this find the Mailing List Form in the sidebar or click on this link to sign up.
- 60g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 60g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 60g all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 2¼ teaspoon buttermilk
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of homemade caramel apple sauce
- 120g (or ½ cup + 5 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) heavy whipping cream
- 2 large egg yolks (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 100ml (or ⅓ cup + 4 teaspoons) regular milk
- pinch of table salt
- 175g (or ¾ cup + 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks, optional
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F (standard oven setting) and line a 6-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the sugar and mix until the mixture looks light and fluffy, another 2 minutes.
- Crack the egg in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Add half the egg to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Add the remaining half egg and mix until the mixture looks like thick buttercream. The mixture may separate, but if you just keep mixing it will come together again. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl every now and then with a rubber spatula.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir with a rubber spatula until somewhat incorporated. Mix briefly with the mixer, about 30 seconds, then scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again with your rubber spatula and mix for another 5 seconds. Finally, add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix for 30 seconds, or until beautifully combined.
- Divide the batter evenly over the lined cups, place in the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
- Fill your kitchen sink with about 5-cm/2-inches of cold water. Once the caramel is done, you need to dunk the bottom of the pan in this cold water bath to stop the cooking process.
- Add the sugar and the water to a medium-sized, light-colored saucepan. The light color of the saucepan makes it easy to monitor the color of the caramel as it cooks. Heat over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until the sugar has dissolved.
- Crank up the heat to medium-high and cook to a golden caramel. Don't stir it at this point. The syrup will first start to caramelize at the edge of the pan. Once this happens, you can gently whisk the caramel to get an even color.
- Once you're happy with the color of the caramel, turn the heat down and carefully drizzle in the cream, whisking continuously. The caramel will bubble and sizzle, so be careful. Once all the cream has been added, turn the heat down, stop whisking and allow to cook for 1 minute. Then remove the pan from the heat and dunk the bottom of the pan into the water bath in the sink.
- There is no need to cool the caramel. You just need to stop the cooking process so the caramel won't become too dark.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the yolks, cornstarch and two tablespoons of the milk until the yolk mixture looks foamy and smooth. Add the rest of the milk and the salt to the caramel in the saucepan.
- Place the saucepan over low heat, whisking to dissolve the caramel into the milk Once the caramel has dissolved, crank the heat up to medium-high and scald the milk mixture. Once the first bubbles appear, remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously to keep the eggs from scrambling.
- Once combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat over low heat, whisking continuously, until the first bubbles appear and the mixture thickens considerably.
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk for another minute to knock some of the heat out. Pour the caramel custard onto a clean plate and immediately cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the custard. This keeps a skin from forming. Allow the custard to cool completely.
- Once the custard has cooled, beat the butter in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and fluffy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the cooled custard, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the custard has been added, mix for another few minutes, until the buttercream looks thick, smooth and creamy.
- Using two teaspoons, hollow out the cupcakes and fill each with a teaspoon of caramel apple sauce. Using a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip, frost the cupcakes with the caramel buttercream. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and decorate with a cinnamon stick. Cupcakes keep up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving.