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Apple Cider Doughnut Cupcakes

September 15, 2011

I’m pretty sure that just yesterday I was in third grade.  In fact, I was, sitting at my daughters desk listening to the teacher talk about the year and thinking when on earth did I become a responsible adult…let alone a parent of a third-grader!  And how on earth am I going to get my knees out from under this desk-I’m pretty sure I’m stuck here! I still remember my teacher, my classmates, the special projects and parties we had, the paper cranes we made, writing in cursive the first time…you get the idea.  Somehow I blinked a little too fast and 20 years went flying by.

Thankfully some of my favorite memories are still a reality today.  I watch my daughter come home way too excited about writing 3 letters in cursive and listen as she tries to come up with words to write with those 3 letters.  Back to school shopping is even more fun when it’s for someone else and hot apple cider and cider doughnuts taste even better when sharing them with your kids.  So I’m trying not to blink at all now and enjoy these fleeting moments.

I’ve been really wanting to make apple cider doughnuts but the recipe I would use has been blogged before so it seemed a little redundant.  So I wasted 2-3 hours whining  pondering what else I could do with apple cider.  Nothing. At least nothing that interested me enough to do anything.  I looked at my list of ingredients again and then it hit me.  Duh!  Make cupcakes!

So these aren’t exactly like eating an apple cider doughnut…but its very reminiscent and they do bring you to that happy cinnamon-ey sugar place.  The cupcake batter is based off a doughnut recipe just altering the flour and butter.  They come out super light, fluffy and moist-my husband and I almost ate them all hot out of the oven!  I wanted to add some crunch (any good apple cider doughnut has a crispy outside!) but I wasn’t about to deep fry the cupcakes.  Instead I added a burnt sugar coating (creme brulee anyone?) that adds a delicious toasted flavor and a definite crisp.  A buttercream would be too heavy for such a delicate cupcake so I topped it all off with fresh whipped cream and the traditional cinnamon sugar that coats cider doughnuts.  They are heavenly. Dangerously so.  Not too sweet and light enough where you can eat three in a row without batting an eye.  Go ahead, I won’t tell 🙂

Apple Cider Doughnut (inspired) Cupcakes
Yields 12-15 cupcakes


1 cup apple cider
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
whipped cream (fresh or store bought)
2 teaspoons cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.

Pour the apple cider in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and then adjust heat to maintain a steady simmer.  Continue to cook until reduced to 1/4 cup of liquid.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

3.  In a large mixing bowl cream the butter on medium speed of an electric mixer.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.  Add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the buttermilk.  Beat in the reduced apple cider.

4. Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full (don’t overfill because they will spread out over the pan during the cooking).  Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back at a light touch.  Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

5. When the cupcakes have cooled prepare the burnt sugar topping by placing 1/2 cup of the sugar in a (very clean, very dry) medium, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has turned to liquid and is the color of honey.  Remove from the heat.  Carefully spoon a little of the liquid sugar over each cupcakes, smoothing it as much as possible with the back of the spoon to cover the top of the cupcake.  You have to work quickly because the sugar will immediately start to harden.

6. To finish, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Generously dollop the cupcakes with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Serve immediately.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 9:57 am

    These sound and look amazing! These are on my to-do list!!!

  2. September 15, 2011 12:17 pm

    I might have to try these! They sound amazing!

  3. September 15, 2011 1:16 pm

    Do you pinky promise not to tell if I eat three in a row?

  4. September 15, 2011 2:01 pm

    WOAH. These look SO GOOD!!! Can’t wait until it gets cooler so I can make these and feel like fall is here. This recipe, SAVED 🙂

  5. September 15, 2011 2:29 pm

    Darn it I have everything except for the buttermilk!! I was really wanted to make these cupcakes. Guess I’ll have to wait till later. Thank you for this great recipe.

  6. September 15, 2011 2:29 pm

    Darn it I have everything except for the buttermilk!! I was really wanted to make this cupcakes. Guess I’ll have to wait till later. Thank you for this great recipe.

  7. September 15, 2011 4:57 pm

    Apple cider and cinnamon sugar donuts are my favorite parts of fall food. We would make both for our annual pumpkin carving parties at my house growing up. Ah, nostalgia, thanks for the beautiful post!

  8. September 17, 2011 1:37 am

    These look absolutely delicious! They’re beautiful!

  9. September 17, 2011 8:36 am

    These look absolutely delicious! Congrats on Top 9 today!

  10. September 17, 2011 9:15 am

    Would love to post this with a link back here for next weekend’s Practical Magic Blog Party. 🙂 would love to hear from you.

    Congrats on top 9. I am a new email follower. 🙂


    Dana @ On the Broomstick

  11. September 17, 2011 10:05 am

    i’m totally making these this week! the look sooo Good!! =)

  12. September 17, 2011 10:40 am

    These look so good! Love all of the elements you have combined to make one amazing cupcake!

  13. September 17, 2011 12:00 pm

    These look like the best darn cupcakes, ever. Wow!

  14. Dee Dee's Delights permalink
    September 17, 2011 12:45 pm

    Congrats on top 9! This looks amazing and yummy too!

  15. September 17, 2011 4:30 pm

    Congrats on Foodbuzz top 9!

  16. September 17, 2011 5:31 pm

    These look so heavenly! I love fall inspired foods!! Can’t wait to try them!

  17. September 17, 2011 9:29 pm

    Congrats on the Top 9! You have more control than I do that is for sure I would have definitely eaten them all out of the oven 🙂

  18. September 18, 2011 9:14 am

    I made these last night but made a couple of changes for the diet conscious. I reduced the amount of butter to 1/4 cup and the sugar to 3/4 cup. They still turned out moist and light. I find most recipes for muffins, cake or cupcakes, you can use half of the sugar per flour. So if the recipe calls for 2 c.flour , 1 cup of sugar is fine. Many muffin/cupcake recipes you can reduce the fat by half, especially if there’s some kind of fruit in it. These are big savings in calories and fat grams.

  19. September 18, 2011 10:29 am

    Holy wow! These look wonderful!!!!

  20. September 19, 2011 10:51 am

    Wow! These look unbelievable! I am so craving the flavors of the season..these might be added to my repetoire!

  21. September 20, 2011 9:50 pm

    These look incredibly delicious! I’m a big fan of the doughnut cupcake concept!

  22. September 23, 2011 4:37 pm

    What a great recipe and lovely story about being a third-grader! I’ll be making these for a family gathering this weekend – I know they’ll be a hit with the kids and adults. Thanks for a great post!

  23. September 27, 2011 12:33 pm

    This looks so tasty! And so pretty, too. Great photos.

    I love apple cider, and I’m so happy ’tis the season!

  24. Jennifer permalink
    September 30, 2011 5:33 pm

    If I make these ahead of time, will they be alright? Should I just hold off on the whipped cream until its time to serve? Will the rest make it overnight? 🙂

    • September 30, 2011 6:12 pm

      the cupcakes will definitely make it overnight, although I’ve never done the sugar and whipped cream until right before serving. I would definitely wait on the whipped cream until right before but the sugar topping should be ok as long as they are not being stored in a very warm environment! 🙂 good luck!

      • Jennifer permalink
        October 2, 2011 12:43 pm

        worked great! I did the sugary top ahead of time…transported them to the birthday bash and topped with whip and cinn/sugar right before serving! 🙂 Thanks so much! They were a big hit!

      • October 2, 2011 3:44 pm

        oh good! I’m so glad to hear! thanks for the feedback 🙂


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