Dec 19, 2014

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

apple spice cupcakes

Sometimes you need a sweet treat that doesn’t skimp on the butter and sugar (i.e. the good stuff!). Sometimes you need to indulge a little and one of those times is birthday time! While having your own birthday cake is always something special, the great thing about birthdays is that even when it’s not yours you usually get to partake in the cake eating, which let’s be honest, is one of the best parts of a birthday! A dear friend came to visit a week before her birthday and so I thought it was the perfect excuse to whip up a birthday treat for her to celebrate a little early! Not surprisingly, she didn’t complain! Instead of a full cake, I made cupcakes for her so that the leftovers were easy to travel with. As much as I love me some cake I’m not the type to make you a cake and not give you the leftovers! Bad cake making etiquette!


(Adapted from Eat, Live, Run. Makes 12 standard size cupcakes.)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (can also use whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You can either spray your cupcake pan with cooking spray or you can use cupcake liners. Because these were party cupcakes, they needed party liners!

apple spice cupcake liners

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (you can also do this by hand), beat together the sugar and butter until you have a light and fluffy consistency. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined. Add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg, give it a quick mix and then slowly start to add your flour. I have the baby mixer so I like to add the flour 1/2 cup at a time so more flour stays in the bowl than on my counter top. The mixture will start to get a little dry as you continue to add the flour but once you add the applesauce, it should smooth right out.

apple spice cupcake batter

Fill each muffin cup with batter and if you have some batter leftover just go back and add to some of the skimpy cupcakes. I like to use a large ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly. I actually don’t think I’ve ever used the scoop for actual ice cream but only for cakes, muffins and cookies. Tells you how much cake trumps ice cream in this house hold!

apple spice cupcake pre-baked

Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, give or take a few minutes. You can always check if they’re done with the toothpick test by inserting a toothpick in the center of one of the larger cupcakes and once it comes out clean and/or with dry crumbs they are done.

apple spice cupcakes baked

Take the cupcakes out of the tin and let them cool on a wire rack.

apple spice cupcakes baked2

While the cupcakes cool you can make your icing. It’s super simple and I’ll argue all day long for homemade over store bought! You can taste the difference and homemade will win every time! Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese for a minute or two so that it really softens up. Slowly add in the cinnamon and powdered sugar until you reach the thickness you want. This recipe doesn’t include butter in the icing and there is considerably less sugar than normal recipes. (Ok, I admit, I went a tad bit to the healthy side with the icing but healthy and icing don’t really go in the same sentence so it won’t disappoint with flavor!) You can either store the icing in the fridge until you are ready to serve or ice the cupcakes and then store the cakes in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

apple spice cupcake2

By all means, feel free to get fancy smancy with your icing technique. I went for plan jane here and just used my mini icing knife to spread the icing on top of each cupcake with a little swirl action. I left the fanciness to my birthday topping decorations!

apple spice cupcake3

Sparkle party hat, anyone!?

apple spice cupcake4

Wally certainly had a close eye on those party hats! Well, who am I kidding his eye is totally on the cupcake, not the party hat! Although, he’s worn a party hat before and can totally rock it!

apple spice cupcakes5

When it comes to birthday cake baking, I usually stick to our family’s classic birthday cake: vanilla cake with chocolate icing. But it was less than a week till Thanksgiving and all I had on the mind was all things fall! Pumpkin, apples, spices and more! And I just thought these apple spice cupcakes would be the perfect nod to fall while still being a birthday cake crowd pleaser! The applesauce does double duty here and while it adds flavor it really helps keep the cakes soft and moist. Then of course there is cream cheese icing and I think cream cheese icing can take any cake to the next level, especially when you add some cinnamon action! If you can’t eat all the cupcakes in one sitting (which, if it’s just you, I don’t recommend), store them in the fridge to help keep the icing cold. It won’t dry out the cupcakes themselves so long as you eat them within a few days, which after you try them I think you’d agree won’t be a problem! For now, that’s apple spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese icing…in the shell of a nut!

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