Who says cupcakes need frosting? This caramel apple cupcake recipe is just as decadent, sweet and pretty as the most liberally frosted cupcake.
To make these, we combine a bit of store-brought ingredients with some homemade twists to create a cupcake recipe that's special, but not too demanding on a busy hostess.
Our recipe requires a few parts - but don't be intimidated! These really are easy to bake up.
1/2 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons caramel sauce, reserve another 1/3 - 1/2 cup for later
pinch of salt
2 sticks of margarine
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 - 4 tablespoons cinnamon
1 box yellow cake mix
3 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups of water
Start by making your apple mixture. Melt 1/2 stick of butter with the vanilla extract in a saute pan and add in your diced apple pieces. Toss with butter to coat. Allow to soften, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in your sugar and cinnamon. Toss and cover evenly, allow to cook another 2 minutes.
Finally, add a pinch of salt and your caramel sauce. Continue to cook on low for another minute or two, then remove your mixture from the heat. Allow to cool in a bowl on the side.
Make your crumb topping. Without cleaning your saute pan, melt the margarine and vanilla. Meanwhile, measure and sift your dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Once the margarine and vanilla are combined, add your dry mixture in 3 parts using a wooden spoon. This process is fast and can look daunting, but it will come together with enough mixing. Once your first round of dry ingredients starts to absorb the margarine, add the next and then the last.
Stir continuously until crumbs start to form. Once you've got a blend that's crumbly, add in your apple mixture. Toss lightly. Turn off the heat, but keep your pan on the stove top. This will stop the mixture from drying out and it's also handy for the topping process.
Make your cupcakes. Combine the ingredients listed above using a whisk to mix it. Fill lined cupcake pans half way.
Bake one pan at a time in a preheated 350 degree oven.
After the first 8 minutes, remove the pan and top each cupcake with your crumb mixture. Don't worry if this is messy - just make sure the tops are completely coated.
Pop back in the oven for another 8 minutes or so. I always take this opportunity to turn the pan to ensure the cupcakes bake evenly.
Remove from the oven. Carefully take out the cupcakes and allow them to cool on a wire rack. While still warm, drizzle left over caramel sauce onto the cupcakes.
It's always great to serve these warm - and we won't say no to a scoop of vanilla icing on top!
But if you're baking ahead, these cupcakes are still super tasty at room temp. Make sure to store them in an airtight container for best keeping.