These apple cupcakes are subtly spiced, full of fresh, shredded apple and topped with a cinnamon-cream cheese frosting.
It may be 90 degrees outside, but Labor Day is behind us, which means that I have officially shifted to fall mode. Two of my favorite fall flavors are apples and cinnamon, so the combination was a no-brainer when I was trying to decide what to make for dessert this weekend. There is no subtlety here – the cupcakes are packed with fresh shredded apple and the cream cheese frosting is full of warm, fragrant cinnamon.
The apple cupcakes are incredibly moist and slightly dense – very similar to the texture of a muffin, which I love.
I chose to do a cinnamon-cream cheese frosting because there is a chain of family restaurants in the Pittsburgh area (King’s) that serves their apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. It’s my husband’s favorite dessert there, and the first time he ordered it, I couldn’t believe that the cinnamon ice cream was PINK. Crazy! That aside, it is a fantastic combination and it was the first thing I thought of when deciding what type of frosting I wanted to use for these cupcakes. Cinnamon-cream cheese frosting was a solid choice.
The combination really makes these taste like apple pie with a huge dollop of spiced whipped cream. Which, of course, is fantastic.
I don’t care what the temperature is outside, I’m jumping on the fall train and riding it the whole way to Thanksgiving!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined, about 1 minute.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in half of the flour mixture until mostly combined, then pour in the buttermilk (the mixture may begin to look curdled - that's okay), then add the remaining flour mixture, mixing until just barely combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the shredded apple, as well as any accumulated juices.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and salt and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar gradually and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the ground cinnamon, mix until it is incorporated, then increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Using a decorating bag and tip (I used the Ateco #827 tip) or an offset spatula, frost the tops of the cupcakes. The cupcakes can stay at room temperature for a few hours, but should be refrigerated in an airtight container for longer-term storage up to 4 days. Bring the cupcakes to room temperature before serving.