These apple cider cupcakes with bourbon icing and bourbon caramel are dreamy (and a bit boozy) fall cupcakes.
The cake is made up of reduced apple cider, honey crisp apples, and spices for days. They are then topped with a bourbon cream cheese frosting (which contains a full glass of bourbon) and a rich bourbon caramel sauce. This recipe makes 12-13 cupcakes and plenty of frosting.
The apple cider cake is made with one cup of apple cider that has been reduced down to one-half cup, one puréed honey crisp apple, and tons of cinnamon, allspice, clove, and nutmeg. The cider I used is Trader Joe’s, which I think is by far the best out there.
THE KEY TO GOOD CUPCAKES:
Using room temperature, eggs, butter, and milk is key to having a good, even cake. Ingredients that are too cold can cause the cake to split in the oven. It’s also a good idea to tap your cupcake pan against the counter to release any air pockets and that have been created.
The base for the bourbon icing is a cream cheese icing, but it isn’t tangy like most cream cheese frostings, and you can definitely taste the bourbon. It has 1/4 cup plus three tablespoons bourbon, which makes it a real party. It uses one eight-ounce slab of cream cheese (full fat because the low-fat version will make it too watery) and 5 cups of powdered sugar in addition to the bourbon. If it becomes too watery, chill it for 20 minutes, and it will be perfect! For the bourbon, I used Woodford Reserve.
The Bourbon Caramel
The trick to caramel is to leave it alone and watch it like a hawk, so it doesn’t burn. Start by mixing the water and sugar, then bring it to a boil, then simmer over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the mix begins to change color and becomes a deep amber color. Gently swirl the pan from time to time to distribute the heat. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream, bourbon, and butter. If the caramel starts to crystalize, return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Let it sit for about 30 minutes so that it can cool and thicken.