Apple Walnut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I believe that I’m a muffin person more so than a cupcake person.  Muffins seem to be less work, more humble, and are at least somewhat capable of providing flavor without a lot of sugar so I can dupe myself into thinking that the morsel I’m about to pop into my mouth is good for me.  Then I can have two.

With butter.

Realistically, the only other big difference between a muffin and a cupcake is frosting, isn’t it?  Well, and all those cutesy decorations everyone’s putting on cupcakes these days.  Both muffins and cupcakes are transportable, which makes foisting the leftover onto unsuspecting co-workers expected, but when you travel with top-heavy cupcakes, don’t they usually end up on the floor of your car when you brake to avoid the bumper of the person in front of you who didn’t see the red light because she was putting on her make up while driving?  Muffins would survive that trip to the floor unfazed and looking just as comely as they did before the mishap.

But I think I’ve found a happy medium.  Something with pieces of fruit, nuts, some spice…and a lovely cream cheese frosting.  Humble, not cloyingly sweet, and very satisfying.  And yes, sporting a bit of a decoration as well.  Have you ever made your own apple chips?

You won’t have to grab a second because these are anything but bite-sized.  In fact, you’ll need a friend to share one with.  I’m sharing mine with Fanny of Foodbeam for SHF:  Cupcakes the Final Chapter.  They’re definitely…

Not.  Just.  Pretty.

Swirly Loveliness


Apple Walnut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 7 humongous cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 lg. eggs
3 c. granny smith apples, peeled, chopped (3 medium apples)
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped coarsely


If the butter is soft, you won’t need a mixer.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended.  In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, then add to the creamed butter.  Add the apples and nuts and incorporate well.  Line large muffin cups or 1-c. capacity ramekins with paper liners and divide batter evenly among cups.  They will be very full.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center is removed clean.  Let cool in container/pan for about 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely before frosting. Sneak taste of one before frosting simply because you can’t resist.  Muffin girl, remember?


Frosting Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 lb. box powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla


  1. In a large bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar over a bit at a time, and blend well before adding more.
  3. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Fill a piping bag and swirl away.  Makes enough to frost at least 7 big cupcakes very generously.
  5. Mix some cinnamon and demerara and sprinkle over the frosting.

Apple Chip Ingredients
1 granny smith apple
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Squeeze the lemon juice and a bit of water into a saucer and set aside.
  3. Using the fancy mandoline your husband bought for your birthday, and using the hand guard to keep all your fingers, slice the apple, peelings and all, making sure the slices are extremely thin.
  4. Mix 1/2 c. water with 1/2 c. sugar in a small sauce pan and heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  5. As each piece of apple is cut, dip into the lemon juice, and reserve.
  6. Put all slices into the syrup and bring to a boil, keeping an eye on the sliced.
  7. When they begin to soften, remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone.
  8. Bake for 2 hours, then flip to the other side and bake for two hours more.
  9. Cool on the pan until crisp and store in a well sealed jar or plastic bag.Decorate cupcakes, or enjoy as a snack.  They’re pretty tasty.

Chunky apple filled cupcake batter
This one was a bit flat!
Perfect cream cheese frosting with sugar on top
Push an apple chip into the frosting to decorate the cupcake

My Recipe Notes:

  • These are very dense cupcakes and do not rise much.  Fill those cups up!
  • Thinking that if you used standard sized cups, this would make 12-14, maybe more.
  • The chunks of apple and walnuts are perfect in this.  There are so many apples in the batter, the moisture really makes the crumb lovely.
  • Could really play around with the spice in these — allspice, mace, nutmeg…different nuts…cranberries and pepitas?   I’d make them again, easily, but without frosting since they really feel like muffins. Or even like little carrot cakes, without the carrots, of course.
  • Don’t usually like this much sugar in frosting, but it was pleasant with these and the cream cheese is still noticeable.  Maybe less butter, some milk…
  • Loved the apple chips.  Would definitely put in quite a few sheets since they take so long to bake.  It would be great to snack on lots.  Definitely keep them away from moisture. (read:  floppy apple chips on cupcakes sitting near open window in evening.)

And don’t forget to submit a recipe for my 100,000 visitor celebration. Everybody can use a new cookbook, right?