Apple Cardamom Cupcakes with Salted Caramel

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

From the Cupcake Archives...

This is a recipe I've long looked forward to doing once apples came into season. Fuji apples, cardamom, and caramel. A fantastic combination that just goes so well together. Plus, the apples the Elise gave me were just begging to be baked into a cupcake.

This was also a lesson for me as my friend Ann, one of the writers for Sacatomato, Edible Sacramento, and author of the cookbook Hands-Off Cooking taught me how to make caramel. The recipe was actually very easy and the use of a candy thermometer wasn't even necessary.

The cupcake is sweet & sticky, with the cardamom giving it just the right amount of spice. The cake itself is certainly toothsome, so the salted caramel really just acts as the perfect accoutrement to balance the whole thing out. We were both literally scraping (in my case using my finger and tongue) to get every little last bit of caramel off the plate. Using really fresh apples is key here, and the recipe is very forgiving, we over baked a few and they still came out fantastic. A perfect harvest treat now that September is here.
Apple Cardamom Cupcakes
Makes 22 cupcakes / 350F oven

What You'll Need...
4 cups chopped apples (varieties that are good for baking - i.e. granny smith, gravenstein, Fuji)
2/3 cups vegetable oil

2 cups of sugar

4 egg whites

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of cardamom

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

What You'll Do...

1) Chop the apples and combine them with the sugar and let them macerate for one hour. Next add the oil and stir.

2) Preheat over to 350 degrees F (165 C).

3) Slightly beat egg whites just until a light foam appears. Combine them with the oil and apple mixture.

4) Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together. Stir into the apple mixture, and then place into cupcake papers about 3/4ths full.

5) Bake for 15 minutes undisturbed, then rotate the pan and cook for another 3-7 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Careful, as if the toothpick goes into an apple it will not come out clean, but cupcake may be done.

Salted Caramel
What You'll Need...
6 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of sugar or vanilla sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

What You'll Do...
1) Melt the butter in a large, deep heavy-duty saucepan. Stir in the sugar and and stir until golden brown.

2) Take off the heat and pour in half the cream and whisk like a crazy person until the caramel is smooth. Whisk in the rest of the cream and the salt. Strain into a bowl and then spoon over cupcakes. (The caramel will thicken if you let it sit in the fridge, which is also yummy.)

Feel free to switch out the cardamom for cinnamon, or apples for pears. The recipe is flexible and forgiving. Freshly whipped cream is also an ideal pairing.

Similar Cupcakes
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Vanilla Rice Pudding Filling
Pear Cranberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Ganache


  1. These are perfect for my dinner on Monday...only one question. I live in Colorado, would there be any difference for the high altitude?

  2. deana - Well, I'm not sure. I would say whatever extra steps you usually take to account for the altitude, apply here. I'm at sea level, so I really dunno. Sorries. :(
    The recipe is forgiving, so I wouldn't worry.

  3. Garrett, where do you come up with these ideas? I LOVE this & can't wait to try them out myself.

  4. As always, your timing is perfect. I just bought cardamom today in order to make Marie's Streusel Plum Cake (she's on the Foodie Blog List at A Year At Oak Cottage,) and since I spent a small fortune on said cardamom, I was thinking of other ways to use it.

    You, my dear, are my cardamom knight in shining armor (Eat Beast will have to be your mighty steed.)

    Oh, and by the way... thanks for posting the plum crepes. I scurried to the farm market today to buy plums; the preserves are cooling on the counter.

  5. thanks daniela! i used an old recipe of mine as the base, and must have missed some of the alteration when i wrote it. check the other cupcake recipes like the pear one to see the original.

  6. What a totally gorgeous photo! This looks just delicious, just like all your food does.

    Also wanted to thank you again for the vanilla beans. They came yesterday and I've been smelling the envelope all day!

  7. With fall juuust about here, I've been actively seeking out new apple recipes and was so glad to find this one--hooray! And any excuse to put salted caramel on something is good enough for me. Looks great!

  8. We have more apples my dear.

    Perhaps we could arrange a trade? Those cupcakes sound fabuloso.


  9. Good Lord, where do you come up with all the yumminess? It seems you have a never-ending supply of amazing ideas and innovation.

    And, dang, but you're making me hungry!

  10. these sound wonderful. I love both cardamom and caramel; they'll give a real flavor boost to the not-so-fabulous apples I mentioned on my blog yesterday.

  11. I swear. You should open a shop...and sell online. I would seriously order if I could!

  12. Mmmm.... that first photo, in particular, makes me want to lick the screen!

  13. Garrett, I've been looking for something to make as a gift. My friend's Aunt is sewing a bridesmaid dress for me for a friend's wedding. The dress is fantastically hideous, so the gift must be fantastically delicious to assuage her offended good taste, and this is just what I needed! Thank you.

  14. I'm going apple picking in about a week, so I'm thrilled to have found this post just in time! Thank you for sharing! Cardamom and apples go so well together, and I love salty caramel, so I can't wait to bake some of these cupcakes.

  15. Make these cupcakes!!! You will LOVE them!!!

  16. Wonderful!!! I changed things up a little and turned it into a bunt cake..came out great.Served warm drizzled with the warm caramel.. great with vanilla ice cream too!

  17. rookie canadian cook says-you forgot to tell us what to do with the oil in the directions. I added with the apples and sugar to macerate. They're cooking right now.

  18. Rookie - Perfectly fine to do so. I will make the alteration to the wording, I can see how it might be confusing.

  19. You make me wish it was Fall already!

  20. These sound so delicious and unique. Can't wait until get a break in this diet so I can enjoy dishes like this (in moderation, of course)!

  21. Lovely combination of flavours Garrett.

  22. i am a huge cupcake fanatic. i stumbled unto your site while looking for a french vanilla cupcake recipe. you're awesome and i can't wait to test out some of the great recipes! <3 -monzie

  23. Salt caramel?

    Yeah, um... has anyone mentioned how awesome you are? Right now, you are my Kitchen God.

  24. I made these - very tasty and yummy but I have a question. Mine were very soupy at the stage of putting into the pan to bake. I added more flour because I was afraid I messed up. After baking, the cake part was a little too dry so then I figured I should not have added more flour. When you finish mixing this up, is it very runny?

    The cardamom is excellent and I didn't have any dry ginger so I used fresh - grated a bit and plopped it in. Very good. Oh and the caramel sauce - to die for. LOVE it.


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