Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Apple Frosting

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

I’ve taken a bit of break from blogging, mainly to do lots of cooking for my family. A few weeks ago, I had the most amazing gluten-free pumpkin cupcake and it made me realize how much I forgot I enjoy a pumpkin spice bread. Like many people, it’s one of those fall favorites, and while I post this one AFTER Halloween, it will carry perfectly into Thanksgiving. In fact, it might just be the perfect thanksgiving treat for those who have decided pumpkin pie is a passe, or just want to do something a bit different. Of course, I decided rather than ever trying to re-replicate a gluten recipe, I wanted to make it so much better than an original recipe that the gluten eaters would simply be jealous. After all, what better way to prove Gluten-free is not the end of the world?

In this version, (thanks to a few tips from Jules at Jules GlutenFree Flour) I use instant pudding which gives you a more moist, rich, and dense cake, perfect for that almost pumpkin pie in a cupcake wrapper treat. I used and abused one of Jules recipes (the starting point of the recipe came from her Blueberry Muffins recipe in her e-book The Bakers Dozen.) One of the most important ingredients to this recipe is freshly grated nutmeg. It is the pixie dust of the frosting. Without it, it’s not the same. Make sure, you have nutmeg and a microplane for this recipe, it’s well worth it. (Besides, I’ll be posting another recipe that needs fresh grated nutmeg, and it’s fantastic on Egg Nog!) I also used a touch of apple cider in the recipe and in the frosting. It gave it a touch of sweetness and the hint of fall. Adjust the clove and cinnamon if you use a spiced apple cider. Although the Five Spice is not necessary, it gives depth to the flavor. I used it in my last two test batches and it added subtle character to the cupcakes. You could reduce the cinnamon if you find the 5 Spice strong.

Spiced Apple Cider

Cupcake Ingredients
*1/2 Cup Butter or nondairy alternative
*2/3 Cup Brown sugar
*2 Large Eggs
*1 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
*1/4 Cup Apple Cider
*1/2 Cup Yogurt or sour cream (I used vanilla goat yogurt. SO-Delicous Coconut worked well too.)
*1 Can Pumpkin (100% Pumpkin)
*1 1/2 cups Jules GlutenFree All Purpose Flour (or other flour blend that you enjoy and works like flour -add xantham gum as needed)
*2 tsp Baking Soda
*2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
*1/2 tsp salt
*3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal (in Jules recipes the flaxseed is optional; here it’s needed. Also, toast if you wish to give a more roasted flavor)
*Package GlutenFree Instant Pudding (I used White Chocolate JELL-O brand, which Jules Shepard uses often and has researched KRAFT)
*2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
*1 – 1 1/2 tsp Clove (I like a lot of clove)
*1/2 tsp cardamom
*3/4 tsp 5 spice (optional)
*1/2 tsp lemon peel
*1/2 tsp Allspice
*few grates of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F (static) or 325F (convection)

Line 24 regular size muffin cups and set aside. (I did use a stand mixer for this because it helps to put in the flour a bit at a time)

Prepare the dry ingredients by sifting and then whisking together the Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, flaxseed, and pudding mix. Set aside

Cream the butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.

Mix in the yogurt and pumpkin until well blended.

Lower speed on the mixer and add flour mixture by 1 cup increments. Scrape sides if you need to (I used the shield and put it through the slot.)
Mix until incorporated. This is a thick mixture. It will not be runny like most muffins.

Scoop into muffin pans. I used about 3 oz cookie scoop. (Pampered Chef makes them, ice cream scoops work. Because the mixture is thick, a scoop with a release works well).

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until they don’t push through or wiggle when you poke them. These don’t test well with a cake tester or knife. If you use them, you actually want a little bit on your tester because it’s more of a moist very dense cake that’s almost between a custard and a pound cake. I baked until they were firm, but didn’t bounce back like traditional cake will when it’s done. Poke gently because it will leave a small indentation, but does eventually disappear.

Cool in the tins if you can for about 10 min before turning out. When cool frost with Caramel Apple Frosting (BELOW) and scrape nutmeg on them to garnish

Caramel Apple Frosting
If you can’t have the diary that comes in caramel, I’d suggest a maple flavored buttercream for these cupcakes. I tested it with both, and the maple was excellent, but I enjoyed the caramel more. For my Caramel, I buy it from Chocoley because of the high quality. They also run excellent specials. I adapted a Caramel Buttercream recipe from Wilton.

*4oz by weight caramel
*1 1/2 fl oz heavy cream or evaporated milk (I’m guessing the evaporated milk will give a richer flavor. That is Chocoley’s suggestion for their caramel sauce recipe; I had cream open, so figured I’d use that instead of opening a can of evaporated milk too. If you forgo the apple cider, just use 2-3 oz evaporated milk or heavy cream)
*1 1/2 fl oz apple cider
*1/3 cup shortening
*1/3 cup butter softened
*4 cups powdered sugar
*1 tsp vanilla extract (gf)_or you can use more cider

Step 1
Make the Caramel
Melt the caramel in a double boiler with the cream or milk and apple cider. Whisk often (I covered it to help it melt down more quickly). Transfer to a bowl and let cool. I used the fridge to make more cool quickly. The caramel MUST be completely cooled. If you happen to have a GlutenFree caramel sauce you trust, measure out about 3/4 cup for the frosting.

Step 2
Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add the caramel and beat again. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium high and let beat for 3-4 minutes. Slow mixer down for one minute or so until light and fluffy. If icing appears dry, add a bit more apple cider or milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Pipe onto the cupcakes and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. ENJOY. These can store 2-3 days and still taste fantastic. (I have not tested refrigeration or freezing, if you do, please leave a comment).

If you feel like having fun, these also make great whoopie pies. Just bake a shorter time. Perhaps 12-15 minutes.


2 thoughts on “Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Apple Frosting

  1. Hi Jennifer
    I’m very excited to try this recipe as we LOVE spice cake around here and caramel makes everything better! Is the “can of pumpkin” the 15 or 30 oz size? Thanks so much for this idea it will make our gluten free Thanksgiving even better!

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