Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Can we talk fruit in cupcakes for a minute? I’m fairly sure there are some people who would argue that it’s no longer a cupcake at all once you add fruit, but I tend to disagree. If the recipe is made using the creaming method (cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and finally alternately add the dry ingredients and liquid) and topped with frosting, it’s a cupcake in my book!

But anyway, fruit in cupcakes – it’s totally hit or miss for me. Sometimes the result can be brilliant, like these double chocolate raspberry cupcakes or this blueberry lime version, but for every recipe I’ve loved, there’s been another that just didn’t work. It’s usually a texture thing for me, either of the fruit itself, or what the fruit does to the texture of the cupcake.

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

All that to say, I’m immediately a little apprehensive when I come upon a fruity cupcake. But, as I scanned the recipe for these spiced apple cupcakes recently and realized there wasn’t actually any fruit in them, they went straight to my to-do list. Every bit of apple flavor in these light, tender cupcakes comes from that magical ingredient we talked about the other day – boiled cider. The cider lends the apple goodness I was craving in these fall-inspired cupcakes without any of the usual textural worries. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting is the cherry on top – sweet, spicy and a fantastic complement to the flavor of the cupcake. I couldn’t resist drizzling a little more boiled cider on top (both for garnish and flavor). I can’t recommend highly enough whipping up a batch of the cider, it really is a great ingredient to have around, especially this time of year!

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I have one more recipe for you guys that showcases the cider, but I’m going to save it for later this month. Tomorrow I’m switching gears to talk about Thanksgiving – if you are still working to finalize your menu, you’ll want to stay tuned for some great sides and dessert ideas! :)

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
cupcakes from Yankee Magazine, frosting adapted from Martha Stewart

Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons boiled cider
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until combined. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and then the egg yolk, 1 at a time, and beat well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. In a measuring cup, whisk the milk and boiled cider together. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk/cider combo in 2, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating just until the batter is combined.

Divide the batter among the liners, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for just a few minutes before removing them to the racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Add the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice) until completely incorporated. Add the cinnamon and vanilla and mix until combined.

To assemble the cupcakes: Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cupcake. Drizzle with additional boiled cider and/or garnish with a caramel square, if desired.

Makes 12-14 cupcakes