Apple Crisp Cupcakes w/ Caramel Buttercream topped w/ Apple Crisp Crunch!

I know pumpkin flavors are an all time fall favorite for many- and I love myself some pumpkin anything too!  However, for myself personally- apple treats make my heart happy year round!  These cupcakes are seriously delicious!  Possibly the most moist cupcake I have made to date!  I think its the perfect combination of apple, fluffy caramel buttercream and crunchy topping that make them so special.  

It is a time consuming recipe for sure, but if you follow all the steps you are sure to have the perfect treat that is going to make you wanna grab a cup of hot coffee and snuggle up with a good book- just gives off that homey vibe!  Don't think they are an adult only cupcake- Bradley could eat them by the dozen if I let him, and its not the icing that reeled him in- he actually prefers them with no icing!!

There are a few things within the recipe that are super important that I would like to point out.  Please note that this recipe will make you a lot of cupcakes (between 2-3 dozen depending on how large your cupcake tins are and how full you fill the liner).  I always make a big batch with my little vultures (AKA kiddos), but you could certainly try to half the recipe- it gets difficult when it comes to the eggs (not an even number).  I have not personally done this, but this would be a perfect recipe to use the large muffin tins for (you know the ones Crumbs Bake Shop uses for their delightfully large cupcakes)- would make you about a dozen (maybe a few more).  

The type of apple you use in baking is crucial.  I personally love using Jazz apples, but I know that they can be hard to find- in fact I know a lot of people have never even heard of them.  If Jazz is not available I have also used Honey Crisp for this recipe and they turned out just as good.  If you are an experienced baker when it comes to apple treats go ahead and use your favorite apple of choice.  If not, I highly recommend going with the apples that I listed because the wrong apple choice can leave you with a mushy cake.  Thumbs down for mushy cakes! 

I don't dice my apples super small and use a handy tool that you can find in many kitchen departments.  I personally purchased mine at William and Sonoma and love the quality!  It's commonly used for chopping onions, but I use it for just about everything- such a time saver!

The recipe says to separate the eggs and this step is so important.  You will mix the yokes in early on in the recipe and save the egg whites for the end.  The egg whites will need beaten first in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Here is a photo just incase you aren't familiar with that term.  The egg whites turn bright white and become very stiff- you will know you have reached the right consistency when it is no longer runny, and sort of like whipped cream. 

Once you have your stiff peaks you will add the egg whites to the batter.  I folded this in by hand using a wooden spoon or spatula to ensure it was not over mixed.  The very last step is to fold in your apples.  

Because every oven is different I suggest starting to check your cupcakes around 18 minutes- but it could easily take over 20 minutes for them to be done.  I will note that these cupcakes don't come out with that perfectly round cupcake top.  This is partially due to the high moisture content of the cake and the fact that there are lots of apple chunks in the cupcakes.  No need to worry if they aren't pretty- thats what frosting is for!  

Ok- so your cupcakes are done and currently cooling.  Time to move on to the buttercream and apple crisp topping.  
One secret I will disclose on this buttercream and all buttercream recipes is beat the living daylights out of it!  There is no such thing as over mixing buttercream.  The longer and harder you beat it, the fluffier and smoother it will be.  Second tip is to always give it a splash of heavy cream- not milk, not buttermilk, not soy milk- HEAVY CREAM.  Heavy cream is what makes homemade whipped cream so darn delicious.  After making whipped cream from scratch many times I realized adding it to buttercream would enhance most buttercream recipes.  I also find that when I add the heavy cream it allows me to add slightly less confectioners sugar so the buttercream isn't too sweet.  
Note- if caramel isn't your thing (we might not be able to be friends if you don't like caramel) you can feel free to make a cream cheese icing instead.  I had a little extra cream cheese icing leftover from another recipe and tried it on one- it was delicious!  
Remember when you are icing the cupcakes to allow room for as much of the apple crisp topping as possible.  I iced the cupcakes to form somewhat of a birds nest so it would hold the crisp topping- we don't want to lose any of those delightful crisps! 
Finally you will spoon the apple crisp topping on each cupcake- adding as much as you would like!  You likely will have extra apple crisp topping (feel free to half the recipe)- keep it in a container for the next time you have a sweet tooth that involves apples!! 
Feel free to go above and beyond with some caramel drizzle- I will certainly be adding that touch next time I make them!  
Let us know if you tried this recipe! It is surely one of our favorites! 
Apple Crisp Cupcakes w/ Caramel Buttercream and topped w/ Apple Crisp Crunch 
Cake Batter:
2 cups brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 medium apples (Jazz or Honey Crisp preferred)
Caramel Buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-10 cups confectioners sugar
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream 
Apple Crisp Topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your cupcake tins with paper liners. 
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth (2-3 minutes).  Once butter is smooth add the brown sugar and beat for several minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the oil in a steady stream. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Let mixer run on medium speed while you sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium-size mixing bowl. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, mixing well- do not over mix. 
With the electric mixer, in another medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold them into the cake batter.  
Peel, core and chop up the apples into small pieces- fold into the batter.
Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 
For the buttercream beat the butter for 3-5 minutes on the high speed of an electric stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Beat until the butter is very smooth and is no longer yellow- butter will eventually turn white.  Once the butter is smooth add the vanilla, caramel sauce, heavy cream and half the confectioners sugar.  Beat on high another 3-5 minutes.  Add the remaining confectioners sugar (more if needed) to get buttercream to the desired thickness and sweetness.  Beat for at least 3-5 minutes once remaining sugar is added.  
Pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes with a large round tip (if you do not have this tip simply snip of the end of a piping bag or ziplock bag).  Pipe in a circle to make a double layer birds nest.  
For the apple crisp topping preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combined all dry ingredients into bowl and cut in butter with a pastry knife.  Mixture should be crumbly and butter the size of peas.  Place mixture on a non-stick cookie tray (use non-stick aluminum foil to avoid extra clean-up).  Spread mixture evenly over tray.  Bake until all butter is melted and is brown on top- 30-40 minutes.  
With a spoon sprinkle the crisp topping on each cupcake.  Drizzle with caramel if desired.  


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