Yeah the name of this recipe is a mouthful, which is ironic considering it will take you only two mouthfuls maximum to eat one of these mini cupcakes. I spent a lot of time tonight debating which recipe to share with you, and really nothing felt right. It felt too early to start posting the Halloween or pumpkin recipes; it felt too late to post more cornbread muffin recipes that are perfect for cookouts. I mean, technically it is Fall, but when the month of September is hotter than the month of July you have a hard time believing that the season has changed. Believe it or not, this creates some serious problems for blog post planning.
Okay, so…how about something apple? Apples are a favorite fall fruit, but they also evoke the last few moments of summer (because you give apples to teachers when school starts). Apples are the perfect solution to my seasonal baking dilemma. Crisis averted–tastebuds happy.
These are the second of the four desserts I made for a business party I dessert catered (the first was the mini cookies n cream cupcakes) and are a riff off my Apple Cinnamon Cake that was such a show stealer last year. Two main changes: One, they are mini and we have already had the anything-mini-is-better discussion; Two, I added a drizzle of salted caramel to replace the spiced apples in the original recipe. Salted caramel is the perfect pairing to apple anything. Since finding and trying this homemade salted caramel recipe a few years back I have incorporated it into multiple apple desserts, turning even the staunchest pumpkin pie lover into an apple pie convert.
To recap, the recipe is similar to my standard vanilla cake recipes but with a few sugar swaps and an entire apple mixed into the batter. Don’t worry this is far from the texture of carrot cake. Then we make an already addictive cream cheese frosting into a CINNAMON cream cheese frosting aka a cinnamon roll in frosting form. Drizzle some of that salted caramel over the frosting and you’re golden and delicious (apple humor). This isn’t an overly sweet cupcake, so it is a nice addition to a full of sweet sweet sugar dessert table.
This mouthful of a recipe may only take two mouthfuls to eat, but I guarantee they will be two of the best mouthfuls you’ve ever had.
apple cinnamon mini cupcakes with salted caramel and cinnamon cream cheese frosting
For the Cake:
- 3 1/3 cups (420 g) all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 230 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cups (267 g) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (133 g) light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cups (120 mL) vanilla Greek yogurt (you can also use plain Greek yogurt or regular yogurt)
- 1 ½ cups (360 mL) lowfat milk
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 apple, peeled and grated (I used honeycrisp but Granny Smith would also work)
For the Salted Caramel:
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp (90 g) salted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
- ½ cup (120 mL) heavy cream
- 1 tsp salt
For the Frosting:
- 2 (8 ounce) packages full fat cream cheese
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon, more to taste
Make the Salted Caramel: Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn.
Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. The caramel will bubble rapidly. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
VERY SLOWLY drizzle in the heavy cream. I suggest wearing an oven mitt before adding the cream since the mixture is going to rapidly bubble and splatter once the cream is added. This is because the heavy cream is colder than our caramel mixture (just for a quick science lesson).
Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp of salt. Allow to cool before using.
You won’t use the whole batch for the cupcakes. So the extra caramel will store for up to two weeks in the fridge in an airtight container. You may need to heat it up for a few seconds before using.
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a mini cupcake/muffin tin with liners. Set aside.
Grate one apple using a food processor or by hand (because my mom is a bada**).
Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the two sugars, making sure that there are no clumps of brown sugar. Add in the melted butter and whisk on medium until combined. Then add the vanilla extract and yogurt. Mix again until combined. Lightly beat the two eggs; whisk those in as well. Finally add the milk while whisking on medium. With each additional ingredient, make sure to mix until just combined and then stop. The key to fluffy cakes is not over-mixing.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, scraping down the sides as needed, combining just until no lumps remain. Again, be careful not to over mix. Fold in grated apple.
Pour 2-3 teaspoons of batter into each tin. Bake for 10-13 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then place in the refrigerator to cool fully before frosting.
Make the Frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until well combined. Add cinnamon. Slowly add confectioners sugar until the frosting is fluffy to your desired consistency. Continue to add cinnamon to taste.
Spread a thin but solid layer of frosting over each mini cupcake. Heat up some caramel and pour it into a piping bag with just the very tip cut off. Drizzle the caramel over the frosting. Pipe a border of the frosting around the cupcake to cover the edges of the caramel (I used a Wilton 17 tip for this).