I made these for a family party over the holidays, they turned out delicious and went down really well so I thought I'd post the recipe(s) exactly as I made them in case anyone wants to try them.
My basic cake recipe is fairly standard:
125g unsalted butter, 150g caster sugar, 2-3 medium eggs, 200g self raising flour, 1 teasp vanilla essence (optional).
Cream the butter & sugar, add beaten eggs gradually, add sieved flour, add vanilla. 15 mins at 200 degrees celcius.
The cream cheese frosting recipe I use is:
115g unsalted butter, 170g cream cheese, 250g icing sugar, half teasp vanilla essence.
Mix the butter & cream cheese, add icing sugar, add vanilla.
The first variation I did was spiced apple cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I'd seen a recipe online which used reduced apple cider for the flavouring in the cupcake sponge. As I don't drink alcohol, and as these had to be suitable for kids too, I decided to try reducing store brand apple juice from concentrate. Worked like a charm. I started with about two thirds of a litre and simmered until I felt like it tasted strong enough, I was left with about a cup of liquid.
Instead of adding the third egg to the batter, just use two and add the apple reduction to it after the flour. Add a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and allspice. To the cream cheese frosting, add a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon.
The second variation I made was spiced orange with cardamom cream cheese frosting. To the basic cupcake batter I just added a teaspoon and a half of natural orange oil flavouring, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger. I didn't use allspice in this one as I didn't want to drown out the orange flavour, but it probably would have been ok. To the cream cheese frosting, I added a teaspoon and a half of ground cardamom.
The third was gingerbread cupcake with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Simply add three teaspoons of ground ginger and one of cinnamon to the batter, and a teaspoon and a half of strawberry essence to the frosting (I also added a drop or two of red food coloring to make it pink).
From left: Spiced apple with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, spiced orange with cardamom cream cheese frosting, gingerbread with strawberry cream cheese frosting