It's officially fall! Well...kinda. Florida still feels like summer. It's not quite as humid and I can feel the season trying to change but regardless, the high today was still in the 90s. Man, I am so ready for cooler weather.

And so I go to the kitchen and I cook and bake recipes that make it feel like autumn indoors. And today I'm coming to you with a new cupcake recipe.

I was dusting off our mini bar the other day and noticed a few different liquors that have been sitting on the bar for a long time without being used. This got me thinking about other potential ways to make use of them. One of those liquors was a spiced rum which pairs well with fall spiced dishes. So, I started thinking about ways to potentially incorporate the rum into an apple cupcake.

I haven't experimented much with adding filling to cupcakes up until now. That seemed like a good place to incorporate the rum. Apples cooked in rum. Almost like an apple pie filling. Inside an apple cider cupcake. A delightful little surprise! And incorporating caramel into the icing. Yes, that sounds delicious.

I love making everything from scratch when I can so I whipped up a homemade caramel sauce to add to my icing. If you've never made homemade caramel before, don't be intimidated. It's easier than you might think. The key is to not leave the caramel unattended. If you walk away even for a moment you risk burning the sugar. But if you have eyes on the caramel at all times and you're stirring consistently you'll be able to time everything right to make a perfect caramel.

I decided to go with a buttercream for this recipe. Mostly because I tend to gravitate toward cream cheese icings and I felt like doing something different. Whether I make a cream cheese or a buttercream icing, I like to incorporate whipped cream to lighten it up a bit. It helps the icing to not be so heavy, especially when you have a rich cake. This buttercream is salted caramel flavored and does incorporate the whipped cream to lighten it up. I was very happy with the finished product.

With all the different pieces and parts, these cupcakes were a little more on the time-intensive side. This is definitely not a dessert recipe that is easily thrown together at the last minute. But spending the extra time is absolutely worth it.

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~ Ingredients ~

(Makes 12)

Cupcakes

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
2 eggs
½ c. apple cider
½ c. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Spiced Rum Apple Filling

3 red apples
¼ c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
¼ c. spiced rum (I used Captain Morgan)

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. salt

Whipped Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

1 c. unsalted, softened
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. salted caramel sauce

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~ Directions ~

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate larger bowl, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, apple cider, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly add dry mixture and beat until combined. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the apple mixture. Peel and core the apples and chop into small pieces. In a large bowl, toss the apples in the lemon juice. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix until apples are evenly coated.

Move the apple mixture to a large skillet and add the rum. Cook on medium-high heat until the mixture starts to boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir until the apples are tender and the mixture thickens (about 10 minutes). You can add a teaspoon of corn starch to help it thicken if you'd like. Remove to a bowl and allow to cool.

If you're not using pre-made caramel sauce, whip up the salted caramel mixture. Start by melting the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Continue to mix as the sugar melts so it doesn't get clumpy. Continue to stir the melted sugar until it becomes a golden color. Then, add the butter and whisk until the butter is melted and the butter and sugar are well combined.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the heavy whipping cream. Whisk until all ingredients are combined. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour the sauce into a glass container like a mason jar and allow to cool completely.

To make the icing, in one bowl whip together the butter, caramel, and vanilla extract. Whip until smooth. In a separate bowl whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes). Add the butter mixture to the whipped cream mixture and whip together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Use an apple corer or comparable tool to remove the center of each cupcake. Spoon a bit of the apple filling into each cupcake until the center is full.


Pipe the buttercream icing over each cupcake. Drizzle with some extra caramel, if desired.