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Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

October 16, 2018 by Nicole Collins

Guys, I'm totally older and wiser than I was the last time we chatted.

Ok, maybe not wiser. But, definitely older!

That's right...yesterday was my birthday! Cue every version of every happy birthday song ever written!

You know, all of the grown ups are right...birthdays get a lot less exciting the older you get. Don't get me wrong, I still totally love my birthday. But, I did WAY too much adulting yesterday. Aren't you supposed to get a hall pass from responsibility on your birthday?

Every year on my birthday, my mom and I both take the day off of work to spend the day shopping and eating together. But, I had to work yesterday since I'm hoarding all of my newly earned vacation days for my Italy trip (huge sacrifice, I know). And, we've had some family emergencies and health scares that have surfaced over the past week, and there's just been a lot going on. Then, I had to run some errands that I didn't feel like doing. It was just one big day of chores.

But, that's not to say I didn't have a great bday! I did still get to spend a little time with my mama and bro (in between work emails). I got lots of pretty jewels, and kitchen stuff, and chocolate as presents. I got to celebrate this past weekend at the Guinness Brewery with my loved ones. And, I've still got plenty more activities planned to keep the celebration rolling.

It's not birth DAY. It's birth MONTH!

Today's recipe is the little bday treat I made for myself. It's totally season appropriate, and totally what I've been craving all month.

Today, we're making Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting!

Ok, so I know this is the second apple cider recipe we've had in a 2 week span, but I'm just really digging apple cider right now! And let me just say, I'm not done with it yet!

But for now, let's talk cupcakes. As I always do, I'm letting the grocery store help me a little bit by starting with a store bought yellow cake mix for our batter base. But I promise, you won't even recognize the boxed mix when we're done!

We're swapping out the water, oil, and eggs called for on the box with apple cider, melted butter, and applesauce. The apple cider gives us the liquid we need for the mix while packing tons of warm spiced flavor. The melted butter helps these cupcakes feel just a little more luxurious. And though we're only replacing 1 egg in the recipe, the applesauce helps to add one more layer of apple flavor plus makes our cake super moist. Then, to tie it all together, we add a little apple pie spice to really tie all of the flavors together.

To top our cupcakes, we're making a Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting. I love cream cheese frosting, because it's not crazy sweet, it's totally creamy, and it has a little tang to it. But, when you add some caramel topping and a pinch of salt...wowza! The caramel adds a rich sweetness that matches perfect with our apple cider cupcakes. I mean, apple and caramel are a classic combo, after all.

It's funny, because I've had the idea for these cupcakes for a couple of weeks. I just didn't have the right opportunity or crowd to test them. But, I was dreaming about them the other night, and I just couldn't wait to try them any longer. So, I totally whipped up a full batch with no plan on who would eat them. (I certainly didn't want to be responsible for eating 2 dozen cupcakes.) I could've though. They're that good!

It only took two texts before I had two volunteers to split the cupcakes, pick them up from me, and take them home. I'm glad, because I can't even begin to imagine the trouble I'd be in had I been left alone with these delicious beauties. The sweet, the spice, the richness, the creaminess...yummmm, so good!

These were certainly the perfect sweet treat to ring in the big 34! And in case anyone is wondering, I'll still be collecting gifts through the end of the month. ;-)

I hope you love them too...birthday or not! So enjoy, and let's eat!


Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves: 24 cupcakes Print


For the Cake:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)

  • 1 cup apple cider

  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 eggs

  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1 tsp apple pie spice

For the Frosting:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened at room temperature

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened

  • 1 lb (16 oz or about 4 cups) powdered sugar

  • ½ cup caramel ice cream topping

  • 1 tbsp heavy cream

  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners. Mix all cake ingredients by hand until everything is combined (roughly 2 mins). Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 13-16 mins until a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool.

  2. For the frosting: Add softened butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix together on medium high speed for 1 minute until everything is mixed together and looking creamy. Add the powdered sugar, caramel, heavy cream, and salt to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to incorporate in the butter mixture. Turn up to medium high speed, and finish mixing for about 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  3. Once the cupcakes are completely cool to the touch, decorate the cupcakes any way you like! Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Recipe notes:

*These can sit tightly covered at room temperature for 3-4 days.

*I prefer Betty Crocker brand cake mix. If you prefer another brand, adjust the eggs, butter, and apple cider to the measurements listed on the box directions. The apple cider replaces the water in an equal amount. The applesauce replaces only 1 egg. And, the melted butter equals the oil called for on the box.

*I've always mixed box cake mixes by hand. This isn't an official ruling, but I believe that mixing by hand prevents over mixing which in turn leads to a fluffier cake. The batter is thin enough that it's not a struggle to do. That's what I tell myself anyway!

*Apple cider and apple juice are not the same. Apple cider is typically unfiltered which makes the apple flavor a little more pure. I did not test this with juice, so stick with cider if it's available in your area.

*Use the caramel icecream topping that comes in a glass jar, not the squeeze bottle syrup kind.

*I used the Ateco 828 piping tip to decorate these cupcakes.

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