Soft, warm cinnamon cupcakes with a gorgeous spiced cider buttercream, topped off with salted caramel - the PERFECT way to enjoy your favorite cinnamon apple flavors this Fall season!
A few years ago, I shared my favorite Caramel Apple Cider Cookie recipe. I've always wanted to recreate that cookie in cupcake form, but never really got around to it. This year, I've been trying to be better about sharing my original cupcake & cake recipes, and my cinnamon cupcake has been on my radar lately with all the beautiful fall flavors that come alive during the current season.
I knew I wanted to keep the apple flavors for the frosting. Baking apples into cupcakes isn't my favorite thing - the cupcakes tend to not last very long, things gets soggy, it takes forever to cook up the apple slices, the apples turn brown after cooking, etc. So I chose cinnamon to be the star ingredient of the cake itself.
Instead of having the swirl of cinnamon in the cupcake, I wanted each and every bite to explode with cinnamon flavor - just like a snickerdoodle cookie! Adding in a full tablespoon of cinnamon (roasted cinnamon would be killer here, if you have some, too), and stirring it throughout my white cake recipe turned out to be a match made in heaven. I also added a bit of almond extract, with gave it even more of that that snickerdoodle cookie flavor. The cupcakes were soft, gorgeous, and had such a delicate cinnamon lightness to each bite. Really, the perfect base for this cupcake was born this week, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!
The frosting is where a lot of the magic happens. Again, I wanted to use the same method as my Caramel Apple Cider Cookies, which doesn't use fresh apples, but one of my favorite fall drinks: apple cider! Instead of using fresh apple cider, I went straight for the apple cider packets (just like hot chocolate packets, but apple cider). I knew it would blend well into the buttercream, give it that punch of flavor I was looking for, without messing with the consistency too much. I started with one packet then tasted it. Two packets seemed perfect. Then with a few other taste-tester's opinions, the third packet really added enough of that bright apple cider flavor to take these cupcakes home. These cupcakes really taste the best if you frost the cupcakes, then let them sit (covered) in the fridge for a few hours. It helps the apple cider mix enhance every inch of the buttercream and meld in with the almond cinnamon cupcakes a little better. I mixed the packets into the heavy cream before adding it into the frosting mixture - this helps the graininess that I thought might be a problem. Start with two packets, taste it, then add more if you'd like. It's all up to you and how strong you want that flavor to be.
You guys, top it off with the caramel drizzle and HOLY SMOKES, you have a cupcake sure to put any other apple cider cupcakes to shame. It's mind-blowing how flavorful these little beauties are! I hope you enjoy them, and make sure to tag me on Instagram when you do! I LOVE to see your baking adventures, and cheer you on in the kitchen as you do so!
Cinnamon Cupcakes with Apple Cider Buttercream and Salted Caramel Drizzle
makes 24 cupcakes
4 egg whites
3/4 Cup sour cream
3/4 Cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 box Duncan Hines White Cake mix
apple cider buttercream
2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2-3 packets Apple Cider mix (.74oz each)
1/4 Cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
4-6 Cups powdered sugar
salted caramel & sprinkle of sea salt
to make the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (convection bake). Prep cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, extracts, and cinnamon. When thoroughly combined, sift in white cake mix, and then stir until uniform. Don't overmix, but make sure all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Batter will be thick.
3. Fill cupcakes, using an ice cream scoop with a trigger release, half full, until batter is divided between 24 cupcakes evenly.
4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back in the middle. Do not overbake. Should not be golden. :)
5. Let cool in pan for a minute, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
to make the buttercream:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add 2 sticks of butter, cold, and mix on medium until butter is soft.
2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together vanilla, apple cider mixes, and heavy whipping cream.
3. With the mixer on slow speed, add in wet ingredient mixture, then the salt, and mix until thoroughly combined, about a minute.
4. Slowly add in powdered sugar, a half cup at a time, until your desired consistency is reached. If you get too thick, add in more heavy cream. If too thin, add in more powdered sugar. Taste, and adjust flavors to your liking (more vanilla, more cider mix, etc)
Frost cupcakes with Wilton 1M tip in a rosette, then drizzle with salted caramel and top with sea salt if desired.
Recipe source: Baking with Blondie