For the Cupcakes:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup apple cider, natural & fresh
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 ounces cold cream cheese (no whipped, no low-fat, high-quality preferred)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold but still firm
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- heavy cream if needed
Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
For the Cinnamon Sugar Pie Crusts:
- Your favorite pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
- ¼ teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
- ¼ cup sugar + more for rolling
Make the Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven 350°. Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Using a hand mixer beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until thick and lighter in color, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla with the last egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
- Alternately add flour and apple cider in three additions on low speed beginning and ending with flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. You want to stop mixing as soon as the last flour has disappeared. I like to fold in the last addition of flour with a spatula to avoid over beating.
- Scoop or pour the batter into the liners ¾ full. I use a large cookie scoop for this task and it works beautifully. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. I always start checking at 12 because I’m not a fan of dry baked goods. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick, inserted into the center, comes out with a few clinging crumbs but no wet smears!
- Remove from tins immediately and let cool on a wire rack. They must be completely cool before frosting.
Make the Frosting:
- Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, salt and cinnamon on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until incorporated. Add the vanilla after the last addition and mix until incorporated.
- I continued beating the frosting until it was lighter and a good piping consistency. If it is too thick then you can add heavy cream in 1 teaspoon increments until it is the desired consistency. This is also a great frosting for spreading on with an offset spatula, so you could always go that route.
- If you want to drizzle it with an Apple Cider reduction, just boil about 1 cup of apple cider down to approximately 2 tablespoons; cool; then drizzle!
Make the Pie Crusts:
- I prepared these while the cupcakes baked, and then baked them in my preheated oven while the cupcakes cooled. Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar over a solid surface. Roll out your pie crusts in granulated sugar. If you are using store-bought, you can press some sugar into one side. Cut out little leaves or shapes and place 1 inch apart on a baking tray.
- Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they puff up and are brown around the edges. The size of your cut outs will directly impact your cooking time. Just keep an eye on them! They are supposed to be crispy, not burned!
Make the Cranberry Sauce filling:
- If you don’t already have your filling made, I would suggest preparing it after you pop you pie crusts in the oven. That way it has some time to cool before filling.
- To Fill the cupcakes- cut a round hole in the top of the cooled cupcakes using a pairing knife and then fill with the cranberry sauce. You can put the cake cutout back on top or just eat them all! 😉
The cranberry sauce makes more than enough to fill all these cupcakes. If you don’t have plans to eat it on turkey or pork or chicken or yogurt, then you should halve the recipe as written. *Melting Butter: I melt my butter in the microwave in 10 second intervals on 50% power until almost all the butter has melted. At this point I remove it from the microwave and stir or swirl the bowl until all the butter has melted. I do not like when the cream separates from the butter, which will happen if you cook it too long or at too high a power (or heat on the stove).