Fruity, sweet and salty combine in my Apple Cider Caramel Cupcakes to bring you the perfect Autumnal treat. The cupcake sponge has the warm, inviting hit of apple cider with the added bonus of more grated apple that sweetens the sponge perfectly. Filled with salted caramel sauce, the cupcake is then topped with a luxurious swirl of caramel swiss meringue buttercream, an extra drizzle of caramel and finished off with an apple crisp.
For me Autumnal flavours embody that warm, cozy, pull on a warm knit and walk through fallen burnt orange leaf vibes. Flavours like maple syrup, toasted pecans, ginger, mocha, salty caramel and apple are my favourite.
All those that follow me on instagram know my views on the traditional Autumn flavours ... cinnamon, pumpkin spice, nutmeg and chai. I have a strong dislike for them. Scratch that. I can’t stand them!! I know, I know, I’m in a minority here ... but well, I can’t help that. I may venture into pumpkin and chocolate ... but that’s as far as I’ll take it!
You definitely won’t see any of those flavours during this season of baking!
Apple Cider Caramel Cupcakes
Well, let's talk about the main components in these delicious cupcakes.
The cupcake is hit twice with the added flavour of apple. Not only is there ½ cup of apple cider which moistens the batter whilst adding the sweetness and a little tang. There’s also grated apple that adds even more flavour but also melts away and caramelises in the sponge whilst baking. Hello deliciousness!
Once baked the cupcake is then filled with salted caramel sauce. Can you just stop right there and imagine what that tastes like with the apple cupcakes? Heaven I tell you! As an extra bit of decadence, because why not, that same caramel sauce is then drizzled onto the buttercream! I made my usual salted caramel sauce, found here, for the recipe but if you’d prefer to use store bought then go for it.
Onto the swiss meringue buttercream. I’ll go into more detail in the next part, but its safe to say that this style of buttercream is divine. Not to sweet, smooth as silk, light ...yeah I’m a massive fan!
The proverbial cherry on the cake is the single slice of apple crisps. So simple to make and so effective. I used a mandolin to slice the apples, but you could slice by hand if you don’t have one, and then laid all the slices on a baking tray and baked them for 1 hour in a 140C/275F oven, turning over once. They dry out beautifully and the apple flavour intensifies to give a delicately textured but packed full of flavour bite. Well worth the effort.
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
So I touched on this type of buttercream above. It's super light, extremely smooth, and not sickly at all. Once made it’s also great to handle- it pipes amazingly and holds its shape. Brilliant!
The thing with standard butter cream is that it's sweet, like really sweet. I mean, you can’t really blame it can you, it's predominantly made up of butter, vanilla extract and icing sugar. Like a lot of icing sugar and it can have a slightly grainy texture because of this.
But what ingredients going swiss meringue buttercream?
Pantry staples: egg whites, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and for this recipe, caramel.
In short, it's the process of heating egg whites and sugar until the egg whites are cooked and sugar dissolved and then whipping them into a beautiful glossy meringue. Butter and flavouring (if required) are then added to give you the perfect buttercream.
And how do you make it?
Ok so here’s the deal. It’s slightly more of a process than standard American buttercream, but once you get the hang of it it’ll become a firm favourite to top your cakes and cupcakes with.
I’ll take you step by step.
- Using a bain marie (metal bowl sat snugly over a pan of boiling water - not touching the water though), whisk the egg whites and sugar continuously until the temperature reaches 70C/160F. Sugar granules should feel totally dissolved when mixture is rubbed between finger and thumb.
- Remove from the heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted. Then whisk on medium to high until the egg white mixture is completely cool. and the bowl is cool to touch. This can take 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, start adding the butter one table spoon at a time, only adding the next when the butter is fully incorporated.. Once completely added then continue to beat for another 3-5 minutes until the mixture is whipped and of a thick consistency. Note: if it's lumpy then continue to whip until smooth.
- Add vanilla extract and salted caramel and whip until fully combined.
Now you are ready to pipe and before you know it you’ll have your very own tray of Apple Cider Caramel Cupcakes to munch on!
For more inspiring Autumn recipes check out these recipes from my website:
Peach Crumble Cups. Recipe found here
Fruit Pavlova with Roasted Plums and Fresh Figs. Recipe found here
Pecan Maple Shortbread Cookies. Recipe found here
Salted Caramel Sauce. Recipe found here
Apple Cider Caramel Cupcakes
Apple cider cupcakes
- 215 g plain flour (all-purpose flour),
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 18 g granulated sugar
- 50 g brown sugar
- 110 g butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 120 ml apple cider
- 60 g grated apple
- 120 g salted caramel sauce. Recipe found here.
Caramel swiss meringue buttercream
- 5 large egg whites
- 300 g granulated sugar
- 440 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
- 120 g salted caramel
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- Pinch salt
- Drizzle caramel
- Apple Crisps, see notes below
Apple cider cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F.) Line 12 cupcake moulds with liners.
- In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Once creamed, add vanilla and then Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing completely between each addition.
- Alternate adding the mixed dry ingredients and the apple cider to the butter and sugar, stirring on low, making sure you’re only stirring them until they’re just absorbed. ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then ½ the apple cider, then ½ the remaining dry mix, then the rest of the apple cider, followed by the rest of the dry mix and the grated apple. Do not over mix. Give it one last stir and make sure there are no dry ingredients sitting on the bottom of the bowl
- Fill cupcake cases ¾ of the way full. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake! Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
- Once cooled, scoop out some sponge from the centre of the cupcake and spoon caramel sauce in until level with the top of the cupcake. Set aside until ready to pipe buttercream.
Caramel swiss meringue buttercream
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.
- Place bowl over a pot of boiling water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water and whisk the egg whites and sugar continuously until the temperature reaches 70°C (160°F). Sugar granules should feel totally dissolved when the mixture is rubbed between finger and thumb.
- Remove from the bowl from the heat, carefully wipe the bottom with a cloth, and place it on the stand mixer. With the whisk attachment fitted, beat on medium to high until the egg white mixture is completely cool and the bowl is cool to touch. This can take 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the whisk attachment and replace it with the paddle attachment. At medium speed, start adding the butter one tablespoon at a time, only adding the next when the butter is fully incorporated. Once completely added, then continue to beat for another 3-5 minutes until the mixture is whipped and thick. Note: if it's lumpy, then continue to whip until smooth. Add vanilla bean paste and salted caramel, and whip until fully combined.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a star tip, swirl buttercream onto the cupcakes. Next, drizzle caramel sauce over the buttercream, then place an apple crisp as decoration. Optional: sprinkle with flaked sea salt.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.