Caramel Apple Cupcake-Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

5 years ago
Caramel Apple Cupcakes (gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan optional) 

It's apple season!  What better way to introduce the fall season than with a caramel apple cupcake.  Part caramel apple, part apple cake with walnuts.  Grating the apples brings out the apple flavor and keeps the cupcakes light and moist.  The caramel is so sticky and sweet, the way caramel should be.  You will not believe this is dairy free.

I wasn't sure if making a caramel dairy-free would work.  My first try was without a candy thermometer, bad turnout, nothing happened when I added the coconut milk.  The second time I used my candy thermometer, why I didn't the first time, ugh! I figured how hard could it be to add the "milk" when the sugar is amber, well I am here to tell you, you need a candy thermometer.

This was such a nice treat that brought me back in time, caramel apple in hand, just better.  If you have a school bake sale coming up these would make a perfect gluten,dairy free addition to any fall bake sale.  I think you will love this candied apple cupcake as much as we all did.  Enjoy! 

Makes 15 Cupcakes


  • 1 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats 
  • 1 1/8 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch (I use all Bob's Red Mill gluten free flours)
  • 1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium apples, cored, grated
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 cup coconut or almond milk
  • 1/3 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons applesauce
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
  • Vegan Option: 1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (Bob's red Mill) plus 2 tablespoons water
  • Caramel recipe follows
  • Sugared Walnut crumble recipe follows
  • Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pretzel sticks for garnish 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Line muffin pan with cupcake liners, I used shiny red ones.

Add coconut milk or almond milk to a measuring cup, add lemon juice.  This will create a "buttermilk".  Set aside.   

Put the oats into a bowl and pour 1/2-3/4 cups of hot water, mix.  The oats will absorb the water.  Set aside.

Core and slice the apples in half.  I rub a cut lemon on the cut sides of the apples to slow oxidation (that quick brown color). Grate the apples, I use a box grater. 
Place all the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, salt into a bowl and combine well.  Add the walnuts to the dry mix.  Stir to coat well. 

In a small bowl combine oil, egg, and applesauce, add this to the "buttermilk" mixture.

*Vegan Option: Combine 2 tablespoons water with 1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed meal in a small bowl, stir to mix well.  Add to the oil and applesauce.

Now add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, mix with a rubber mixing spatula until all the ingredients are combined.  Add the grated apples and oats, fold into the batter. 

Use a 1/3 cup measuring spoon to scoop batter into cupcake liners all the way to the top.  Evenly add any remaining liquid in the bowl to each cupcake.

Bake cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cupcakes are golden brown.  Let it cool on a cooling rack to room temperature.  

For the Caramel

Makes about 1/2 cup 

Click here to see step by step pictures in my fig tart recipe.


  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 5/8 cup vanilla flavored coconut milk (So Delicious brand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Earth balance Soy Free Spread

Note:  You will need a candy thermometer (I use Wilton brand)

Also Note:  Use a medium saucepan, even though the ingredients look like a small amount, so the coconut milk doesn’t boil over and burn you.    

In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan set on medium low heat, add sugar and water, do not stir.  Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan.  When it begins to boil raise the heat to medium high. 

Stage 1 will still look clear.  

Stage 2, beige, temperature should reach 220 degrees F 

Stage 3, brown, temperature should reach about 280-290 degrees F watch the candy thermometer at this stage, sugar can go over 350 degrees F quickly, and burn.

Stage 4, dark amber brown, temperature will reach 350 degrees F. 
Turn off heat.  Slowly pour in the coconut milk, it will boil violently, which is normal.  Wear gloves, if desired.  Turn the heat back on medium, add the margarine, stir briskly until caramel has become smooth and glossy, 2-3 minutes.  Let cool for a few hours.  It will thicken as it cools.

Take about a spoonful of cooled caramel and pour over the cooled cupcakes starting in the middle then around.  Make sure they are cooled otherwise it will drip right off the cupcakes.  Add a gluten free, dairy free pretzel stick on top and a little sugared walnut crumb on top.  

Sugared walnut topping:

I just used a spoon of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of crushed walnuts heated up in the microwave for 15 seconds, then cooled, and garnish over caramel.

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