Even though summer isn’t over yet, these HOT days (117 anyone?) have me dreaming of all that Fall will bring. Especially the cozy, comforting recipes that I always come back to when the weather finally cools down each year. One of my favorite flavors that Fall recipes showcase so well is apple. I love the combinations of cinnamon and spices with sweet/tart apples. These Apple Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream remind me of the beloved caramel apple, one of Fall’s absolute must haves!
I used some homemade chunky applesauce that I had saved in my freezer for such a time as this, and I love the texture the tiny pieces of apples gives these cupcakes. I used apples from my parent’s apple tree to make the applesauce, and they are wonderfully green and tart. The sweet caramel flavor in the buttercream is just the right thing to balance that tartness. If you can’t find chunky applesauce, you can finely dice some Granny Smith apples and add them in.
Once you have your batter mixed, it’s helpful to use a spring loaded scoop to make sure the same amount of batter goes in each cupcake liner. This will ensure that your cupcakes bake evenly.
Parchment paper liners are nice because they help the cupcakes not to stick.
I’m not usually a huge fan of frosting, but this one won me over. I made Dulce de Leche by cooking sweetened condensed milk in a mason jar in the crockpot overnight. What a beautiful thing it is to wake up to a jar of that pure sweet liquid gold! Good morning to me! So make sure you plan ahead with this recipe and make your Dulce de Leche the night before. You can also find cans of ready made Dulce de Leche in the ethnic food section of some grocery stores.
While the cupcakes were baking, I made a traditional buttercream and then mixed in some of the Dulce de Leche. If you don’t mix it in completely, you’ll get ribbons of pure Dulce de Leche in the swirls of your piped frosting! You could also use the leftover Dulce de Leche to fill your cupcakes. This would be completely over-the-top amazing! A sprinkle of sea salt and these cupcakes will send you to apple heaven and back.
Hope you get a chance to make these cupcakes, or even your own apple inspired recipe. Right now, my friends at KitchenAid are having an apple recipe contest and you could win KitchenAid appliances! To enter, just share and tag an image of your own original apple recipe (sweet or savory) on Instagram and Twitter using #KitchenAidContest. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable or coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chunky applesauce (I used homemade, see note for substitute*)
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
- 3 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- sea salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix vegetable oil and sugar on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between.
- Add vanilla extract, Greek yogurt and applesauce and mix until smooth.
- Gradually add in the dry ingredients on low speed until you have a smooth batter. Do not over mix.
- Line the wells of a muffin pan with parchment paper liners. These are the best because they don't stick to the cupcake.
- Divide the batter between the 12 cups, filling them a little more than 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a mason jar, cover the top of the jar with foil, set it in the center of the crockpot, and fill the crockpot with water up to the level of the sweetened condensed milk. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Allow it to cool completely.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip butter on medium high speed until it is fluffy and pale. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, salt, and then heavy cream. Be sure to turn the mixer down when you first add the powdered sugar and then gradually increase the speed. Once everything is incorporated, allow your mixer time to whip the frosting on high speed until it is fluffy.
- Add 1/2 cup of the dulce de leche to the buttercream, and mix on low speed. If you would like to see swirls of dulce de leche in your piped frosting, do not mix it in completely.
- Scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with an open star tip (I used Wilton 1M) and pipe onto cooled cupcakes, starting in the center and then circling around the perimeter of the cupcake. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired to enhance the caramel flavor in the frosting.