Caramel Apple Cupcakes


Caramel Apple Cupcakes

For Halloween or just to celebrate fall with friends, these little cakes are sure to fool the eyes and the sweet tooth in a most pleasant way! While these desserts look like caramel apples, the surprise is that they’re spiced cupcakes that are as easy to make as their fruit-and-caramel doppelgangers. Trick while you treat with these wickedly delicious cupcakes that pose as another fall favorite.

Making the cupcakes themselves is nearly as simple as a box cake mix. There’s nothing more complicated than mixing together ingredients. The trickier part is forming them — in the shape of apples. For that, you’ll need two pans, the Caramel Icing, and the decorations of your choice. From plain caramel to festive autumnal decorations, these sweet treats can be as simple or as gourmet as your taste buds desire.

Once you’ve baked the cupcakes, the other key to pulling off the caramel apple look is the icing — most importantly, its consistency. If you prefer a shiny apple, a thinner icing that drips over the sides is ideal. For a thicker frosting, beat the icing a bit longer (until it’s the color of peanut butter and no longer drips). If it’s thicker, you’ll need to spread it down the sides of the cupcake — thinner and you can scoop the icing on top and let gravity do the work. One thing to note, the caramel never sets or becomes firm. So, watch your fingers — this caramel is always sticky and buttery delicious!


about 10 "apples" or 20 cupcakes

Total Time

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Test Kitchen Tips

For cupcakes that are the right dimensions, fill each well of the pan with no more than 3 Tbsp. batter.

Baking an Apple Form

These apple-shaped cakes are a snap when you use these two pans.

MUFFIN PANS The slightly slanted shape of a standard muffin pan gives these cupcakes the sloped “apple bottom” they need. You’ll only need the stumps, so trim off the domed tops according to directions on page 51. Find them wherever quality cake pans are sold.

FLUTED CUPCAKE PANS The perfectly domed shape of USA Pan’s 12-cup mini fluted cupcake pan gives just the right shape to convince you you’re looking at an apple when placed atop a cupcake bottom.

Famous Flavors

Looking for “apples” with extra flair? Try these combos.

ROCKY ROAD: Combine chopped dry-roasted peanuts, quartered mini marshmallows, and mini chocolate chips to press onto the sides of cupcakes.

TURTLES: Since the icing is already caramel, finish out this combo by simply sprinkling on chopped, toasted pecans, then drizzling melted chocolate over the nuts.

ALMOND JOY: Toss together chopped toasted almonds, sweetened shredded coconut, and mini chocolate chips. Or top cupcakes with 1 Tbsp. melted chocolate and a sprinkle of coconut and almonds.


For the spice cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°. Coat one each 12-cup muffin and mini fluted cupcake pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and baking soda.

Cream butter with granulated and brown sugars in a bowl with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Alternately mix flour mixture and buttermilk into creamed mixture in three additions, starting and ending with the flour.

Scoop about 3 Tbsp. (#20 scoop) batter into 10 wells of muffin pan and 10 wells of cupcake pan. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 1518 minutes. Let cupcakes cool to room temperature and remove from pan. Assemble cupcakes according to directions.

For the caramel icing, combine butter, sugar, syrup, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt in a tall, heavy 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts.

Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 225°, 710 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and let caramel cool in the pan or in an ice water bath, stirring periodically, until it reaches 85–90° or room temperature to the touch.

Beat caramel with a mixer on medium speed until it’s lighter in color and clings to back of a spoon, 35 minutes. Icing should be thicker than regular caramel and drip slowly from a spoon. The longer you beat the icing the thicker it becomes.


To avoid overmixing the batter, alternately add the buttermilk and flour mixture to creamed mixture.


Using a level #20 scoop to portion the batter ensures the apple tops and bottoms are the right size.


The caramel will form a thick, frothy layer while boiling, but should be the color of iced tea under the froth.


For icing that’s the most caramel-like, beat it just until it lightens in color and still drips from a spoon.


Trim domed top from each cake with a serrated knife, so the cake has a level side to form “apple” bottoms and tops.


Scoop 1 tsp. icing (#100 scoop) onto cut side of bottom, then top with trimmed fluted cupcake, cut side down.


Spoon or scoop icing over “apples” letting excess drip down sides, or gently spread it with an off set spatula.


Pipe simple drizzles or fall designs like spider webs with melted chocolate from cake decorating or plastic bags.


Sprinkle chopped nuts, crushed cookies, or autumn-inspired purchased sprinkles over frosted cupcakes.


Coat iced cupcakes with candy pieces, chocolate chips, pretzels, chopped candy bars, or one of the mixes in the Test Kitchen Tips.

Nutritional Facts

Nutritional Facts

Per cupcake

Calories: 408

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 19g 29%

Saturated Fat 12g 60%

Cholesterol 87mg 28%

Sodium 295mg 12%

Carbs 54g 18%

Fiber 1g 4%

Protein 5g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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