Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes

A soft, melt in your mouth, apple cider cinnamon cake is filled with an apple cider cranberry sauce, topped with a swirl of cinnamon cream cheese frosting and adorned with cinnamon sugar pie crust leaves and apple cider syrup.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

Keeping this recipe from you has been agony!

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes. It’s the Holidays in a cupcake!

I know. Lots going on here, but I promise the flavors come together perfectly. Cinnamon and apple cider are common themes in each component with a splash of cranberries thrown in for spice and tartness!

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

The cake is made with 100% brown sugar, which makes it delightfully moist and amplifies the cinnamon and apple cider flavors. It is soft with a delicate crumb but it is not light and fluffy, because if you’ve hung around here a while, you know that I like my cupcakes more dense than airy. That is just how I do.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

The cranberry apple cider filling is my Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce and it is packed with fresh cranberries, apple cider, and apples, and seasoned with star anise, cinnamon and cardamom. It’s spoon-lickin’ good. The tartness of the filling nicely compliments the cake and frosting.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

Speaking of the frosting, I used my favorite cinnamon cream cheese butter cream, and it is sensational. For these cupcakes I whipped it up to make it a bit lighter than in previous recipes because I planned to pipe the frosting on the cakes and nobody wants a mound of dense frosting. It’s all about the balance!

And, because I just couldn’t leave the apple cider flavor well enough alone, I boiled a cup of apple cider down to about 2 tablespoons and drizzled it over the top. Sooooo goooood!

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

And those sugared pie leaves? They almost stole the show. Crispy, sugary and buttery.

Would it be enough to simply sprinkle the pie crust leaves with cinnamon sugar? No. No it would not.

So I rolled the pie crust out in sugar and then topped it with more cinnamon sugar. The sugar on the bottom caramelizes and gets all nice and crunchy. I suggest you make extra to serve with the cupcakes because they are addicting and one will not be enough!

I know this is overwhelming. It’s a whole lot of awesome to take in all at once.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

So for your next Holiday Party give the cookies a break and bring these Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes…it’ll be legendary.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

If you were one of the two people who guessed “cupcakes” in this post, then you are awesome and you have won the satisfaction of knowing that you were right. :-)

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

Ps- The little pie crust leaves are actually the second crust from the recipe that I wasn’t pleased with here. While I wasn’t a fan in that particular recipe, here it worked rather well. Buuuut I tossed out what I did because I didn’t like it. So I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 14 Cupcakes

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes

A soft, melt in your mouth, apple cider cinnamon cake is filled with an apple cider cranberry sauce, topped with a swirl of cinnamon cream cheese frosting and adorned with cinnamon sugar pie crust leaves and apple cider syrup.

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple cider, natural & fresh
  • For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 ounces cold cream cheese (no whipped, no low-fat, high-quality preferred)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold but still firm
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • heavy cream if needed
  • For the Cinnamon Sugar Pie Crusts:
  • Your favorite pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
  • ¼ teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
  • ¼ cup sugar + more for rolling

Instructions

    Make the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven 350°. Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a hand mixer beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until thick and lighter in color, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla with the last egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  4. Alternately add flour and apple cider in three additions on low speed beginning and ending with flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. You want to stop mixing as soon as the last flour has disappeared. I like to fold in the last addition of flour with a spatula to avoid over beating.
  5. Scoop or pour the batter into the liners ¾ full. I use a large cookie scoop for this task and it works beautifully. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. I always start checking at 12 because I’m not a fan of dry baked goods. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick, inserted into the center, comes out with a few clinging crumbs but no wet smears!
  6. Remove from tins immediately and let cool on a wire rack. They must be completely cool before frosting.
  7. Make the Frosting:
  8. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, salt and cinnamon on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  9. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until incorporated. Add the vanilla after the last addition and mix until incorporated.
  10. I continued beating the frosting until it was lighter and a good piping consistency. If it is too thick then you can add heavy cream in 1 teaspoon increments until it is the desired consistency. This is also a great frosting for spreading on with an offset spatula, so you could always go that route.
  11. If you want to drizzle it with an Apple Cider reduction, just boil about 1 cup of apple cider down to approximately 2 tablespoons; cool; then drizzle!
  12. Make the Pie Crusts:
  13. I prepared these while the cupcakes baked, and then baked them in my preheated oven while the cupcakes cooled. Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar over a solid surface. Roll out your pie crusts in granulated sugar. If you are using store-bought, you can press some sugar into one side. Cut out little leaves or shapes and place 1 inch apart on a baking tray.
  14. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they puff up and are brown around the edges. The size of your cut outs will directly impact your cooking time. Just keep an eye on them! They are supposed to be crispy, not burned!
  15. Make the Cranberry Sauce filling:
  16. If you don’t already have your filling made, I would suggest preparing it after you pop you pie crusts in the oven. That way it has some time to cool before filling.
  17. To Fill the cupcakes- cut a round hole in the top of the cooled cupcakes using a pairing knife and then fill with the cranberry sauce. You can put the cake cutout back on top or just eat them all! ;-)

Notes:

The cranberry sauce makes more than enough to fill all these cupcakes. If you don’t have plans to eat it on turkey or pork or chicken or yogurt, then you should halve the recipe as written. *Melting Butter: I melt my butter in the microwave in 10 second intervals on 50% power until almost all the butter has melted. At this point I remove it from the microwave and stir or swirl the bowl until all the butter has melted. I do not like when the cream separates from the butter, which will happen if you cook it too long or at too high a power (or heat on the stove).

http://americanheritagecooking.com/2014/12/spiced-apple-cider-cranberry-cupcakes/

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Comments

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I hadn’t either, Gayle but it just sounded delicious! And at the time I was putting apple cider in everything! It was the new pumpkin up in here! Thanks for the pin!

  1. says

    You have completely outdone yourself with these cupcakes, Lindsey! Just wow. I think you need to be my neighbor so I can help you with taste-testing all of your amazing cupcake creations! I’m guessing the cinnamon cream cheese frosting would be my favorite part, but there is so much greatness going on in these cupcakes I can’t be sure!
    Kristine @ Kristine’s Kitchen recently posted…Peppermint Mocha Donuts {Plus a Giveaway!}My Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you! I wish you were my neighbor, Kristine! Would you give me homemade snacks in exchange for cupcakes? Everything you make looks so healthy and delicious!

  2. says

    WOA – so so love the tarty and cinnamony flavor combination in these wonders! Lindsey – your idea of sugaring both sides of the dough you used for those leaves is simply brilliant!

    Btw – Are you going to be in town between Christmas and New Years? I am on vacay and would so love to meet!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Shashi! I’m actually going to be in New Zealand from before Christmas til Jan 5th! We should still try to get together one day before I leave though!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I would gladly send you a dozen! If only we hadn’t eaten them all! It is an AHC policy not to judge cupcake hoarding… ;-)

  3. says

    You just blew my mind with these cupcakes. Seriously. I can’t focus on anything else right now other than an extreme desire to eat as many of these cupcakes as possible. Although I do have a funny sense of satisfaction right now…which oddly enough is pretty similar to hunger for cupcakes. Amazing work on this recipe! And those pie crust stars? Awesome, awesome idea. I might have to steal that from you at some later yet-to-be-named date. :-)
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Tomato Grilled Cheese SoupMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Haha! I find it hard to focus around cupcakes too! And those pie crusts?! Irresistible. Do it! They are so fabulous!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I could eat an entire bowl of this frosting by myself! I hope you bought some flour so you can get baking! I wish I lived closer to you so I could just send some over! Problem solved ;-)

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Christin! I love photographing cranberries! They make me want to use them more every time! Gahh the pie leaf…so good

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Love! Could you imagine having a cupcake shop and a blog?! I am getting heart palpitations just thinking about it! But I’ll take that title none the less! lol

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Kelly! I could have eaten the whole dozen of these cupcakes! Seriously out of control amazing!

  4. Emily says

    Am I totally missing the step where it explains where to add the cranberry sauce? I am in the middle of making these now and just realized I don’t see that part! Thanks :)

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Emily! Hopefully I’m not to late! You didn’t miss it. Apparently I glossed over that step. Sorry about that. The cranberry sauce is just a filling, so before you ice your cupcakes, cut a hole in the center of each and fill with cranberry sauce. Then frost. I’ll update the recipe – thank you so much for asking and letting me know!

    • Lindsey says

      Hi! You don’t have to, and you can definitely substitute regular cinnamon. There are several species of the cinnamon tree and they each have a slightly different flavor. The most common species is the one in generic cinnamon bottles and the flavor isn’t as intense or robust as saigon cinnamon.

  5. Ryanne says

    Just made these last night. They are beautiful and the cranberry filling is delicious, but you were right, the cake is DENSE :( Mine came out like a tasty brick, and I’ve gotten many of the dreaded “muffin” comments. Do you have any suggestions to alter the recipe slightly to make it a little lighter and fluffier? I really love the idea of this cake and would like to try them again. Thanks!

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Ryanne! This recipe is adapted from my Sprinkles copycat recipe and it is a more dense cake, just like the ones from Sprinkles. There are many variables in what makes cakes dense verse light and fluffy, but the most important aspect is making sure you properly cream the butter and sugar and then beat more after each egg. Creaming traps air in between the sugar granules, which will expand and leaven the cake in the oven. You can also add another 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Other than completely changing the recipe, those are my suggestions.

    • Lindsey says

      I was also thinking you could use room temperature butter instead of melted butter, which will allow more air to be incorporated and trapped during the creaming process!

  6. Jessica Witty says

    I can’t get these cupcakes out of my mind! A friend has requested them as a cake, instead, and I think I’m up to the challenge! I’ll use your above notes on lightening the batter a bit… any other tips or suggestions to bring this into 3 layer cake form?

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Jessica! I would double everything for three layers. I assume you’ll use the cranberry chutney as a filling between the layers? Since it can bleed or be a little loose (depending on how you cook it), I would create a “dam”. Basically a dam is when you are assembling a cake and you want to use a looser filling (like lemon curd for example), you pipe a ring of buttercream around the outside edge of the cake (like if you were using eyeliner on your eye- so right against the edge) to create a barrier between the filling and the outside icing. Put the chutney inside the “dam” and then place the next layer on top. Repeat with the second later, finishing with the top layer. Now you can ice the outside without worrying about the filling seeping into your buttercream or squishing out as you try to ice the cake. Life is hard enough – these little baker’s secrets make all the difference!

      If you want, you can use the apple cider reduction to soak your cake layers instead of drizzling on top. This will add moisture to the cake as well as additional flavor. Totally up to you. If you do, just be careful not to over-soak so the cake becomes soggy.

      I hope that helps!

  7. Jessica Witty says

    Thank you so much for your reply! Yes, that’s my plan with the chutney. I had not considered soaking the cakes with the reduction… that’s brilliant and I’ll definitely try that as well. Wish me luck!

    • Lindsey says

      Good luck! You know what would be pretty on the outside is sugared cranberries…if you have the time :) Just cook some cranberries in sugar water for 1-2 minutes then take them out with a slotted spoon and roll them in sugar. It’s going to be so beautiful!

  8. Alison says

    Hi! I just made these (omitting the cranberry filling but adding in fresh diced apples). The batter seemed to me a little too thin and baked up DELICIOUS, but very dense. I sifted the flour but have no idea why so dense. This happen to you? Usually my caked are lighter than air.

  9. Amanda says

    Hi! These cupcakes look amazing! Can’t wait to try making them but I’m a little confused as to when you fill them with the cranberry sauce. Do you bake them with the sauce or fill them after they have cooled? I couldn’t find this step in the recipe.

  10. Shirl says

    Mmm mmm mmm!!!!!! i think these must be the best looking cupcakes i have ever seen!!! but unlike you guys who seem to be proper bakers…!!! i’m nervous just thinking that i want to make them(Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes) but i will attempt it!!! (my challenge: i don’t do alcohol, so) can i simply use apple juice instead of the cider??? well done Lindsey… clever girl ;0)

    • Lindsey says

      You’ve totally got this, girl!!! Just take it step by step and before you know it, you’ll have stuffed cupcakes! The cider that I used wasn’t the alcoholic kind – just regular apple cider that you buy in the grocery store! You can substitute apple juice but apple cider tastes a little different! Happy baking!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Spice Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes. Say that three times fast. The opening line of this article sold me in seconds. ‘ A soft, melt in your mouth, apple cider cinnamon cake..’ UM YES PLEASE! A little more completed it seems then the about 2 recipes but oh so worth it I bet. Plus I love how she breaks down the ingredients and instructions into 4 separate sections each for the 4 separate parts of the cupcake (Cake, Filling, Icing, Topping). […]

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