What?! Can it be? I am really posting a cupcake recipe? Darn right, I am! Many of you (or possibly a very vocal few) have been reminding me often of late that it has been quite some time since I last shared a cupcake recipe. This was not intentional but simply a by product of my general approach to blogging which is that I make whatever sounds good and inspires me, and in recent months that hasn’t been cupcakes. However, if there is one thing certain to command my attention, it’s brown butter frosting. Put that amazingness on top of a tender, fluffy spice cake and yes, cupcakes, you have my undivided.

There is not much more to know other than clearly, these should be made at your earliest convenience. In my mind, the brown butter frosting is the true star of the show in this duo and I kind of want to slather it on everything. I knew that it needed a cupcake base that had a subtle enough flavor so as not to overpower it and I think this spice cake is a perfect pairing. Top with some sugared cranberries and you have a lovely and unique holiday dessert, or simply enjoy standing at the kitchen counter and don’t even bother with a plate. They are fantastic either way.


For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. (71 grams) white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. (43 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) vegetable or canola oil
  • ¾ cup (15o grams) granulated sugar
  • 2½ tbsp. (37 grams) water

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. (227 grams) cream cheese, cold
  • ½ cup (63 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream


  • 01

    Before preparing the cupcakes, reduce the cider. Place the cider in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and let cook down until the liquid just about 2 tablespoons. You will want to stir more frequently near the end of cooking to avoid burning. Set aside.

  • 02

    Heat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip on low speed at first until the whites become foamy, then increase the speed and continue to whip until medium peaks form. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.

  • 03

    In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Whisk to blend, and set aside. In the now empty mixer bowl combine the egg yolks, oil and sugar. Now fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until well blended. Add in the water and cider reduction and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Using a spatula, gently fold in the whipped egg whites a third at a time until fully incorporated into the batter and no streaks remain.

  • 04

    Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake until golden brown and set, rotating the pans halfway through baking, about 18-20 minutes total. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 05

    To make the frosting, put the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and aromatic, about 3-5 minutes after the butter is fully melted. Pour the brown butter into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

  • 06

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cooled brown butter and the cream cheese. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt and beat 1-2 minutes more. Add in the cream and whip on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the frosting is very light and fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.


  • Liz N.

    I’ve been trying to decide what to bring to a festive holiday party this Friday and THIS.IS.IT! I can’t wait to make this. Shame on me for waiting all these years to make sugared cranberries! Thanks for making my decision easy.

  • Oooh these look so yummy! I’ve never tried browned butter frosting before, something tells me I need to soon!

  • omg these look soo great!

    Kisses from http://poshnessary.com

  • haha, yay! Another cupcake! What I love most about this one is definitely that frosting – totally swoon worthy!

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    These cupcakes look amazing! I’ll have to try them soon!



  • Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie

    For some reason cupcakes rarely inspire me. When they do, I go on binges of baking various kinds but I too have been going through a cupcake drought and may need to feed the masses. These are gorgeous!

  • Oh my gosh these cupcakes look like heaven!


  • Lindsay

    These are so beautiful and sound SO delicious! Can’t wait to try them!

  • Stacy

    These are totally gorgeous! It’s so nice to see cupcakes after so long and two posts in one week from you! Yay!

  • Bibbyskitchen

    Hi Annie. Just stumbled upon your blog. Brown butter anything is good, but never seen it whipped into frosting before. Your cupcakes are completely fabulous!

  • Laura

    Do you have any experience with the cupcake liners that stand by themselves on a baking sheet? I have a variety of beautiful patterns that I’ve picked up but have yet to try them!

  • Kate Herrold

    Annie, I made these today for a holiday party and they are fabulous! The cake is so fluffy and light, a perfect base for the incredible frosting. I can’t wait to see how they go over!

    Just one question, is it possible the quantity is off for the cake portion? I made them as written and, for me, it yielded exactly 12 cupcakes.

  • kadie96

    Thanks for posting, Annie! These look divine! I can’t wait to make them :)

  • annieseats

    Ack, you are completely right! So sorry about that and thanks for catching it. I have updated the yield now. So glad you enjoyed them!

  • annieseats

    I have used them occasionally but I’m not a big fan. I just prefer traditional liners :)

  • That brown butter frosting is calling my name!!!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    I made these tonight to celebrate our au pair’s birthday. They were so perfect and delicious. I was nervous when I added the reduced cider to the yolks and sugar. They had reduced down into a caramalized blob which just kind of kept whipping around in the kitchen aid. I kept mixing for at least 6 minutes and it broke up enough for me to add the rest of the ingredients and must have dissolved completely in the oven because the cupcakes came out perfect. I think maybe I just went a tiny bit past the point I was supposed to with the cider (even though it was exactly 2 tablespoons) but they turned out ok and I was very relieved because I didn’t have a back-up plan!

  • Vanessa F.

    I had that problem, too! I came up with 2 possible options for next time: 1) keep the heat on a lower temp as I reduce the cider, and/or 2) dissolve the ‘caramel’ in the 2-1/2 tablespoons of water right away, since the directions say to add both at the same time anyway