The calendar tells me it's just about fall. In the Pacific Northwest however, we are being blessed with a beautiful, warm late summer that just about speaks perfection to me. Sunshine, warm breezes....SUNSHINE! I'm so enjoying it while it's here because, alas, fall and winter will truly descend upon us soon and the grey rains will crowd out my sunshine. But it's okay, because fall for me means lots of good food: soups, breads, pumpkin, and apples.
Apples are the star ingredient in these delectable cupcakes; well, apple cider that is. Although, I do believe that adding a little shredded apple to these babies might just put them over the top. The original recipe found here calls for using some apple butter to fill these guys, but honestly, it was more effort than I was willing to put forth...besides, I have yet to make my homemade apple butter and I'm too cheap to buy it in the stores. True story.
I've doubled the recipe because you really will be sad if you only make a dozen of these. See, the smell will waft out your windows and you'll have neighbors, mailmen, and cousins twice removed popping up on your doorstep to beg cupcakes from you. And you know, when you give a cat a cupcake....oh, nevermind. Just try these sometime soon. Your taste buds (and extended relatives) will thank you!
Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 1/3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 (8 ounce) bricks cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 24 cupcake wells. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then 1/2 of the cider, and repeat, ending with the last of the flour and mixing only until incorporated. Pour into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 of the way full. (I did have some leftover batter that I put in a small round pyrex cup to bake.) Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool thoroughly.
For the frosting melt brown sugar and 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat. Whisk in cream and blend well. Allow to cool to room temperature. Place remaining 1 1/2 stick butter in large bowl with cream cheese. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer running, slowly pour in cooled brown sugar mixture. Beat until smooth. Add sifted powdered sugar gradually, beating well until completely smooth. I chilled mine in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes to make it firmer and easier to pipe. Frost cupcakes; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired. Enjoy!!
***This recipe makes LOTS of icing. If you like an average amount of frosting, half of the recipe listed here will probably be just right for you. I think I have enough frosting left after making these for at least another half-dozen to dozen cupcakes...and I frosted very generously.