Apple Cider Cupcakes

Move over apple cider donuts, apple cider cupcakes are coming to town! These cupcakes are made with reduced apple cider and rolled in cinnamon sugar, just like the orchard donuts. They’re frosted with apple cider buttercream and a drizzle of apple cider caramel sauce. You’ll never want an apple cider donut after you try these cupcakes.  

We all know October is made for apple cider donuts at the orchard with warm apple cider but I promise you, once you try these apple cider cupcakes, you’ll never crave a donut again. Lol ok, I won’t make any promises but these are seriously next level good.

I also have an apple cider donut cake recipe but between me and you, that cake has nothing on these cupcakes lol. Which makes me question if I should just test these as a layer cake too?!

Some of my favorite apple recipes are my apple cider donuts (I usually with plain cinnamon sugar or the caramel glaze), my mom’s version of an apple pie, the fluffiest apple butter cinnamon rolls and of course, my beloved apple crisp macchiato (which I haven’t even had this year yet!!!).

Why you’ll love these cupcakes

  • They’re packed full of fresh apple cider and spices, in the cupcake, in the buttercream and the caramel.
  • I used ermine buttercream to really get a strong apple cider flavor infused. Ermine buttercream is not as sweet as American buttercream so it allows you to have the cupcake covered in cinnamon sugar without being WAY too sweet (of course, they’re still very sweet but I tried to tone it down). . 
  • That caramel is to die for… I give you credit if you don’t lick it off the spoon. 
  • I love cupcakes because they’re so easy to serve at gatherings but still so indulgent and impressive like cakes.

Ingredients

  • Apple Cider: apples have a pretty subtle flavor so oftentimes you can’t taste it in desserts. To really pack an apple punch in these cupcakes, you’ll want to reduce the apple cider from 2 cups (16 ounces) down to ¾ of a cup (6 ounces). You’ll also need ¼ cup (2 ounces) of reduced apple cider for the caramel sauce so I start with 2 ½ – 3  cups (20-24 ounces) of apple cider and reduce it down to 1 cup (8 ounces), splitting it between the two. 
    • I only reduced the apple cider for the cupcake and the caramel portion. I found that the flavor was subtle but noticeable enough when not reduced in the buttercream. HOWEVER, you can reduce the apple cider for that as well if you want a stronger flavor. 
    • You’ll need ¾ cup (6 ounces)  for the buttercream as well. So if you want to reduce the cider for that, do a total of 3 ½ – 4 cups (28 – 32 ounces) of apple cider and reduce it down to 1 ¾ cups (or 2 cups to be safe and have a little extra) (14-16 ounces)
  • Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes and I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. 
  • Baking Powder and Soda: We’re going to need both here to balance some of the acidity from the apples and brown sugar.
  • Sugar: I used just light brown sugar. You can also do half dark brown sugar and granulated sugar to make the light brown sugar. 
  • Oil: I used oil in this recipe to get a soft spongy texture. I recommend any neutral oil like vegetable, canola, grapeseed or sunflower oil. 
  • Eggs: use room temperature, large eggs.
    • Pop them in hot water for a few minutes if they’re cold.
  • Spices: for apple recipes, I generally just do cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg. 
  • Salt: salt brings out the flavors and cuts the sweetness a bit. I recommend fine sea salt. 
  • Vanilla: I like to use vanilla extract in the cupcake and vanilla bean paste in the buttercream and the caramel sauce. 

How to make apple cider cupcakes

STEP 1: Reduce the apple cider by simmering it on the stove top in a pot for 10-20 minutes on low heat. 

STEP 2:  Start with the caramel sauce because it takes the longest to cool. Make my homemade salted caramel sauce but instead of adding ½ cup of heavy cream, add only ¼ cup of heavy cream and ¼ cup of reduced apple cider. 

STEP 3: Start the buttercream by cooking the apple cider, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan on the stovetop until it thickens like a custard. Cover and set it aside to chill. 

STEP 4: Start the cupcakes by combining the flour, brown sugar, spices, salt, baking powder and salt. 

STEP 5: Whisk in the oil and eggs until they’re well combined. The mixture will be kind of chunky and hard to mix with a whisk. Feel free to use a hand mixer or a stand mixer as well. 

STEP 6: Add the reduced apple cider, whisking just until the mixture is completely smooth. Bake in 12 lined cupcake tins. Allow them to cool before removing the lining and rolling in cinnamon sugar. The cinnamon sugar should stick to the grooves on the cupcakes left from the cupcake liners. 

STEP 7: Finish the buttercream by beating the butter until it’s really fluffy. Then add the chilled custard that we made, mixing until it’s smooth and fluffy. Pipe onto the cupcakes. 

STEP 8: Top with caramel; make sure the caramel sauce has chilled so it’s thick enough not to run off the cupcakes.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What if I can’t find apple cider?

I develop my recipes a few months in advance so fortunately when I first tried this recipe, there was no apple cider out yet which led me to testing the recipe with apple juice and then adding extra cinnamon.  
The recipe is written with apple cider but if you do use apple juice, you can add ¼ tsp of extra cinnamon to the cupcake and buttercream and ⅛ tsp to the caramel sauce. 

Do I have to reduce the apple cider?

You don’t HAVE to reduce the apple cider, especially because the flavor is pretty prominent in buttercream, however, you won’t really taste it in the cupcakes if it’s not reduced. 

Can I make these dairy free?

Yup! Just swap the butter for dairy free butter. 

Can I make these gluten-free?

I have not tested this recipe specifically but all of my cake recipes work with a 1:1 substitute of gluten-free flour so I don’t see why this wouldn’t work. I recommend King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill

How to store cupcakes

These apple cider cupcakes store well at a cool room temperature for 1-2 days. I recommend keeping them in an airtight container and then refrigerating for up to a week.

How to freeze cupcakes

Bakes stay way more fresh when they’re frozen. You can place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to a couple of months. Bring back to room temperature before serving. 

Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section :).

If you make this apple cider cupcake recipe I would love to see it so make sure to tag me @baranbakery on instagram! 

If you loved this recipe, make sure to leave me a star rating below as well 🙂

As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

Yield: 13 cupcakes

Apple Cider Cupcakes

apple cider cupcakes

These cupcakes are made with reduced apple cider and rolled in cinnamon sugar, just like the orchard donuts. They’re frosted with apple cider buttercream and a drizzle of apple cider caramel sauce.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

Reduced Apple Cider

  • 3 cups (24oz) apple cider (or apple juice + 2 tsp cinnamon)

Apple Cider Caramel

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (56g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) reduced apple cider

Apple Cider Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup (150g) light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (6oz) apple cider (OR apple juice + 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • 1 1/2 cup (340g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Apple Cider Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cup (180g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (120mL) canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 3/4 cup (180mL) reduced apple cider

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

Reduced Apple Cider

  1. Place the apple cider in a medium pot over medium-low heat and allow it to simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until it's reduced down to 1 cup (pour it into a heat resistant measuring cup every once in a while to see when it reaches 1 cup).

Apple Cider Caramel

  1. Make one batch of homemade salted caramel sauce but instead of adding 1/2 cup of heavy cream, add only 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of reduced apple cider.
  2. Pour it into a heat safe jar and allow it to cool completely.

Apple Cider Buttercream

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, flour and salt. Whisk until they're well distributed.
  2. While whisking, slowly pour in the apple cider and whisk until the mixture is smooth. 
  3. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously (but not too aggressively) for 3-5 minutes.
  4. When the mixture thickens and begins to hold streaks, whisk quicker for about another 30-60 seconds. It should be thick like custard.
  5. Pour the mixture into a heat safe container, cover it and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Apple Cider Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) and line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners (preferably a light colored pan).
  2. In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the oil, egg and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and use an electric mixer to beat them together until they're combined.
  4. Then add the cooled reduced apple cider, mixing just until the batter is smooth. 
  5. Fill 12 cupcake liner about 2/3 - 3/4 full of batter (about 50g each).
  6. Bake the cupcakes for 17-18 minutes, until they’re puffed up, no longer look wet and spring back when you press on the center of them. 
  7. Remove them from the oven and let them cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.

Cinnamon Sugar

  1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, remove the liners and toss them in the cinnamon sugar.

Finish Buttercream

  1. Once the custard portion for the buttercream has cooled completely, place the butter into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, to beat the butter at full speed for 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape the edge of the bowl every so often.
  3. When the butter is pale and fluffy, add the cooled custard in 3-4 increments, with the mixer running at medium-high speed.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix until it's fully combined and smooth.
  5. To remove any excess air for smooth piping, you can switch to a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for a few minutes (optional).

Assemble

  1. Use a piping bag fit with a large star piping tip to frost the cupcakes.
  2. Top with a drizzle of cooled apple cider salted caramel sauce.
  3. Serve fresh or just slightly chilled.

Notes

  • cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days, refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for 1-2 months.
  • If you only have one cupcake pan, the batter is fine to wait at room temperature while the first set bakes.
  • If your room temperature is warm, place the custard and the butter for the buttercream in the fridge for 10-20 minutes before finishing the buttercream.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

13

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 218mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 31gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.

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  1. I’m so excited to make these! I’m going to be taking these cupcakes on a 2ish hour drive to Friendsgiving. Any recommendations? From what I understand, the ermine buttercream should be fine but I’m considering either drizzling the caramel when we arrive or stuffing the cupcakes with it. Thoughts?

  2. I’m in the process of making these and there are some ingredients mentioned in the list, but not mentioned in the method of the buttercream. When do I add the vanilla and the salt? I looked carefully and noticed that it’s in 2 parts, but did not notice the vanilla at all.

    • I see it. The salt is in the first method in step 1 where you cook in saucepan for the ermine buttercream. Then the vanilla is in the 2nd part where you finished up the buttercream in step 4.

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