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Rustic Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cider Maple Buttercream

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Frosted cupcakes on a red plate with a cupcake on the table beside it cut open and cinnamon sticks next to it.

Nothing says fall quite like the combination of apples and spices. These rustic spiced apple cupcakes are a blend of sweet apples and warm spices, and the maple and apple cider buttercream frosting is the perfect complement for them.

Are these cupcakes healthy ones? The answer to that is yes and no. It really depends on how you define healthy. These are homemade cupcakes made with all-natural real food ingredients like butter and eggs and fresh apples, so in that sense they are definitely a much healthier option than a store bought cupcake with artificial ingredients or preservatives or something made from a packaged cake mix. 

If your idea of healthy is low-calorie or low-fat or sugar-free or if you are on any special diets like grain-free or low-carb, then, no, these cupcakes are not healthy. They have sugar (quite a bit of sugar actually, especially in the frosting), and they don’t have any special modifications to try to make them a healthier option.

But these cupcakes aren’t even trying to be healthy ones. They’re a sweet dessert meant to be an occasional indulgence. And occasional indulgences should be thoroughly savored and enjoyed in all their less-than-healthy glory, at least in my opinion. 🙂

It’s all about balance. With the exception of those with special dietary needs or medical reasons for avoiding certain ingredients, of course, it’s much more satisfying to let yourself enjoy a super-sweet dessert every once in a while rather than trying to convince yourself that the “healthy” version of a dessert recipe is equally satisfying. (Because, let’s face it, most of the time the “healthy” or “lite” version isn’t anywhere near as good as the real thing!)

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe for these sweet and spicy apple cupcakes with a rich, sweet and tangy apple cider buttercream frosting. This recipe is adapted from a recipe in “Mrs. Winslow’s Domestic Receipt Book for 1868.”

Spiced Apple Cupcakes Recipe:



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
  3. Peel and chop apples into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Combine sugar and melted butter. Then add apple cider and stir to blend well.
  5. Beat eggs and add to the cider-butter-sugar mixture, stirring well to combine.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices, stirring to blend well.
  7. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Then fold in chopped apples.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake tins. (This cake doesn’t rise as high as some cupcake recipes do, so I filled my cupcakes until they were about a quarter of an inch from the top of the cupcake liners.)
  9. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (with one or two spare cupcakes for taste-testing!)

Cider Maple Buttercream Frosting

(Note: For a frosting recipe that has a similar tangy flavor but uses less powdered sugar, I recently discovered this cream cheese frosting recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that I really like, so I recommend that as an option if you want to use less sugar or if you don’t want to take the time to boil down the apple cider to concentrate the flavor.)



  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the apple cider and 3 Tbs of the maple syrup. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes to concentrate the flavors.
  2. Using a stand or hand mixer, blend together softened butter, vanilla, salt, and 3 cups of the powdered sugar.
  3. Add the cider-maple syrup from the sauce pan and mix together.
  4. Then add the remaining 1/4 cup of apple cider and 1 Tbs of maple syrup and mix together well.
  5. Add the remaining powdered sugar gradually, mixing well until frosting reaches the desired consistency for spreading or piping.
  6. Frost cupcakes, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top, and enjoy!
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Frosted cupcakes on a cake stand and on a rec plate with a cupcake beside them that has been cut open and cinnamon sticks next to it.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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Michelle Danielson

Wednesday 1st of November 2017

These look so good!! Thanks for the recipe, and your wonderful balanced mindset about food. It's very healing and refreshing! Happy Fall!


Monday 13th of November 2017

Thank you! And I hope you have a happy fall, too! (Sorry for such a late reply! Usually the comments I haven't seen yet are highlighted so I know they are new ones, but this one wasn't for some reason, so I didn't even see it until just now.)

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