I have a new appreciation for cranberries
in my old age as an adult. As a kid I always enjoyed the jellied cranberry sauce, and was somehow never weirded out that it was still shaped like the can. Now, however, I see so many more uses for cranberries than just for cranberry sauce. Take these Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes, for instance.
These Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes are moist (sorry not sorry), delicious apple cider cakes topped with cranberry Swiss meringue buttercream. These aren’t your standard cupcake! The cupcakes are just sweet enough to complement the sweet-tart cranberry buttercream. I topped them with a sugared cranberry, which is an extra sweet-tart treat! <3
This recipe makes 12 standard cupcakes, but you can easily scale it up or down to make more/less. If you want mini cupcakes, you’ll get about 48 of them. You will need to reduce the bake time to about 8 minutes for mini cupcakes.
I thought I was a genius when I thought of cranberry buttercream. Turns out I’m not (of course it’s already a thing), but it’s still a genius idea! The sweet-tart flavor and beautiful color (no food dyes here!) are amazing. You will need a candy thermometer to know when your egg white/sugar mixture reaches the appropriate temperature. If you don’t have one and are looking to purchase one, you can find one [here].
I spent the time to strain my cranberry puree before using it in the buttercream. This step isn’t exactly necessary, but I wanted the buttercream to be a consistent pink color. If you don’t mind the buttercream being less smooth and having flecks of cranberry skin throughout, you can skip this step.
I love the little sweet-tart sugared cranberries on top! If you’d like to make them, there are instructions included in the recipe for my [Cranberry Curd Tart]. Because I just made a small handful of sugared cranberries, I reduced the sugar and water to 1 Tbsp each, and only needed to simmer the mixture for a few minutes to reach a syrupy consistency.
I love the way that cranberries bridge the gap between the fall and winter holidays. These cupcakes are definitely all Fall, but I feel like the cranberries hint at a chill in the air… <3
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Cake recipe adapted from Fork in the Kitchen (link here).
Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes
Apple Cider Cupcakes:
- 1¼ cups flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup apple cider, at room temperature
- 6 oz cranberries
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp lemon juice
Cranberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 3 egg whites
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup cranberry puree
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease cupcake pan or line with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Mix until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add vanilla. Then add eggs one at a time, allowing the first egg to incoporate before adding the second.
- Alternate adding the apple cider and dry ingredients in two additions each (½ the apple cider, ½ the dry ingredients, remaining apple cider, remaining dry ingredients). Mix until just incorporated.
- Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared pan, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with only a few crumbs attached. (See notes regarding mini cupcakes.)
- Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For Cranberry Puree:
- In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Over medium-low heat, warm the cranberries, stirring occasionally, until they give off juice and start to burst.
- Transfer cranberries to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Strain the puree with a fine mesh strainer (see note). You should end up with about a ½ cup of cranberry puree.
- Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the water doesn't touch the bowl. Cook mixture on medium heat until it reaches 160°F (see note).
- Once the mixture reaches temperature, carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until white, glossy, and bowl is no longer warm to the touch, about 10 minutes.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add butter a few pieces at a time. Allow each addition to incorporate before adding the next. Once all butter is incorporated, add vanilla extract and whip until smooth, another 3-5 minutes.
- Add cranberry puree and whip until fully combined. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and frost the cooled cupcakes. Top with sugared cranberries (see note), if desired.Enjoy!