Caramel apple cupcakes: so perfect for fall! Subtly spiced apple cake, salted caramel buttercream, caramel sauce, & a sprinkling of chopped peanuts!

Caramel apple cupcakes on a raw wood stand; apple cupcakes with caramel buttercream, drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with chopped peanuts, with fresh apples and peanuts in the background.  food desserts apple

It’s really feeling like fall now! Boy things have cooled off nicely, and I’m starting to see the leaves falling. This morning was cool and foggy, and I needed a thick fleece to walk my kids to school.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really starting to feel the caramel apple vibe.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes: moist, subtly spiced apple cake topped with salted caramel buttercream, drizzled with caramel sauce and garnished with chopped peanuts.  Just like the favorite fall treat, in cupcake form!  food desserts apple

Caramel apples have always been a favorite fall treat for me. I pick them up in the produce section every year at this time, and I’ve even made them myself! I especially love the kind that are covered with crushed peanuts. It’s such a great flavor combo and I love all the textures too!

Check out my “Caramel Apples” post for a great how-to, plus video!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes: moist, subtly spiced apple cake topped with salted caramel buttercream, drizzled with caramel sauce and garnished with chopped peanuts.  Just like the favorite fall treat, in cupcake form!  food desserts apple

But for today’s recipe, we are making a cupcake version! Caramel apple cupcakes, how yum, right?

So it’s a moist apple cake on the bottom, with just a hint of cinnamon to bring out the fall flavors. Super-simple to make and they bake up perfectly every time. You can use any kind of apple that holds up well for baking, but my favorites are Granny Smith or Honeycrisp.

Next comes the buttercream. This is an American-style buttercream, made with butter and powdered sugar. But, we are adding a magic ingredient: salted caramel sauce!

You’re going to love what the caramel sauce does to the texture of this frosting. It’s really fluffy and creamy, and nice and stable. Just make sure the caramel sauce is COMPLETELY cool before adding it, otherwise it will melt the butter and your frosting will be way runny.

For garnish, reserve a little of that sauce to drizzle on top, and then add a sprinkling of chopped peanuts. Just like the caramel apples that inspired these cupcakes!

These would be so much fun for a Halloween party, or really for any fall get-together. I hope you’ll give the recipe a try!

Caramel apple cupcakes on a raw wood stand; apple cupcakes with caramel buttercream, drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with chopped peanuts, with fresh apples and peanuts in the background.  food desserts apple

More great cupcake recipes on my “Cupcake Recipes” Pinterest board!


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Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

Caramel apple cupcakes: so perfect for fall! Subtly spiced apple cake, salted caramel buttercream, caramel sauce, & a sprinkling of chopped peanuts!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel apple cupcakes
Servings: 18 cupcakes
Calories: 361 kcal
Ingredients
For the apple cupcakes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2/3 cup cake flour*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking owder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest from about 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded apple**
For the toppings
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon anywhere from 3/4 kosher salt (up to 1 teaspoon, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • optional: additional pinch of kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/3 cup salted peanuts, finely chopped
Instructions
To make the apple cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and line cupcake tins with papers.
  2. Place the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Place the oil, apple cider, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest in a large liquid measuring cup, and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and mix together on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  5. Fold in the shredded apple.
  6. Divide the batter equally between all 18 lined wells of the cupcake tin.
  7. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of a cupcake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  8. Cool completely before topping and garnishing.
To make the toppings:
  1. In a small pot, gently heat the cream, butter, and salt until the butter has melted and the salt has completely dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  3. In a larger pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over a medium high flame, swirling the pot occasionally to distribute the heat evenly.
  4. Continue to boil the sugar mixture until the bubbles begin to get smaller and it becomes amber-colored.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, and pour in the warm cream mixture, whisking constantly to avoid lumps or crystals.
  6. Immediately transfer the hot mixture to a heat-safe vessel and cool completely.
  7. Place the butter, powdered sugar, and additional salt (if using) in a large mixing bowl and whip together until pale and very fluffy.
  8. Add about 3/4 of the cooled caramel sauce, continuing to whip until well incorporated.
  9. Transfer the caramel buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a jumbo open star tip.
  10. Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes, drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce, and top with chopped peanuts.
Recipe Notes

*Cake flour is finer and lighter than all-purpose flour and it helps the cake to have a finer crumb and a lighter texture. I prefer to use it for that reason. If you want to skip it though, you can replace it with an equal amount of all-purpose flour. The cake will just be a little more dense and heavy.

**From about 1 1/2 medium sized apples, peeled & cored.

©Baking a Moment

Nutrition Facts
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 361 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 32%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 208mg 9%
Potassium 97mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 40g 13%
Sugars 30g
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 10.6%
Vitamin C 1.1%
Calcium 3.6%
Iron 3.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.