Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramel

Moist apple cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and filled with caramel

Moist apple cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and filled with caramel

I started a work contract in March '10, and apart from being happy to be editing again, another perk is meeting new people. Invariably you're bound to meet someone who has similar interests as you, as was the case when I met a fellow baker!

Cat doing all the work (I measured stuff!)

Cat doing all the work (I measured stuff!)

We'd often say that we should get together for a baking session, and after a couple of weeks of batter... er, banter (*rolls eyes at self*)... we finally set a baking date.

When trying to decide what to bake, Cat said that she loved apple. Apple pie was the first thing that came to mind, but we thought to make it a little more interesting. We decided to do apple cupcakes instead. This would finally give me the chance to get some giant Bramley Apples that I eye out every time I go past the fruit section. 

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Apple and? Vanilla frosting? Cream cheese? Cinnamon? Caramel? If you've had one of my cupcakes you'll know that I love to fill them with a little surprise in the middle, so it was decided to make moist spiced apple cupcakes, topped with tangy vanilla bean cream cheese frosting, and the surprise in the middle? Decadent caramel, or dulce de leche.

Mmmmm.... Caramel.....

Mmmmm.... Caramel.....

Unfortunately, we happened to bake these on one of the hottest weekends we've had in Ireland this year, you'll see in the pic below that the cream cheese frosting looks close to running off the cupcake! The frosting practically poured out of the piping bags, lol! 

Melting in the Irish heatwave

Melting in the Irish heatwave

Well, I mean, after that I just had to make another batch with firmer frosting. Wouldn't you? I mean, it had nothing to do with the fact that these cupcakes were just so decadent, delicious, perfectly moist, practically a pudding. No no, it's all for the photos, of course ;) 

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We had a great time baking these and were also rewarded by the sounds of "Mmmmmm!" and other happy noises coming from our fellow work mates as they enjoyed our handy work.

And just to let you in on a little secret, I don't enjoy fruit in baked goods, so to want to make and eat more of these... well, I'm sure you get the picture. ;)

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Makes 12 cupcakes

3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature (45g)

3/4 cup Apple Sauce, smooth

1 cup Granny Smith or Bramley Apples, diced

1/2 cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg, room temperature

1 cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/8 tsp Salt



  • Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted)
  • Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla extract
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together
  • Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined
  • Beat in half of the applesauce until just combined making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl
  • Combine half of the remaining flour, followed by the rest of the applesauce
  • Mix in the last of the flour and beat until just combined
  • Fold in the diced apple
  • Divide the batter among the cupcake papers, filling each till about 2/3 full
  • Bake until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed or a toothpick comes out clean, about 18 - 20mins
  • Cool for about 10mins before removing cupcakes from pan and cooling on a wire rack
  • Once completely cool, make a small hollow in each cupcake using a pastry cutter or apple corer, push into the centre of each cupcake, about half way down, and remove the sponge, leaving a small hole
  • Fill holes with caramel/dulce de leche
  • Frost each cupcakes with a generous kiss of cream cheese frosting
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Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting


Enough for a generous kiss of frosting for 12 cupcakes

225g Cream Cheese (1 x 8oz packets), chilled

75g Unsalted Butter, room temperature

2 - 2 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract


Seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod

Green Gel or Paste Colouring (Optional)



  • Beat the butter until smooth and creamy, add the cream cheese and blend together until smooth
  • With mixer on low speed add icing sugar, little bit at a time, and vanilla
  • Increase the speed of mixer and beat until well mixed
  • Optional: Divide frosting into two and lightly colour half of the mixture with green food colouring
  • Optional: Carefully fill half of the pastry bag with plain frosting and the other half with green frosting
  • Or fill piping bag with uncoloured frosting
  • Frost each cupcake with a generous kiss
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Moist and delicious, straight out the oven

Adapted from Sweetest Kitchen, makes 12 cupcakes

Other Tips:


The caramel makes these cupcakes very decadent, so if you shy away from rich foods, don't fill the cupcakes with dulce de leche, but if you still want a hint of caramel flavour, add a couple teaspoons to the cream cheese frosting instead


Most recipes call for the cream cheese to be at room temperature, but I find that this results in runny frosting every time, so I use cream cheese straight out of the fridge

Can be refrigerated, covered, until ready to use. Bring to room temperature and beat until smooth before using.

I find the easiest way to fill the piping bag with two colours is to stand the bag in a large glass with the top folded over the rim of the glass (I use my hubby's Guinness glass ;) ) and have both coloured frosting in large jugs. Simultaneously pour the frosting into the piping bag, let the frosting pour down opposite sides of the piping bag's walls to control the flow. (I hope that makes sense!)

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