Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Seriously, allow around 5 minutes for this job in a freestanding mixer if you have one – this time spent creaming will result in a lovely fluffy sponge later.
Add your eggs, one at a time. Ensure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Stir your apple sauce into your butter, sugar and egg mixture.
Fold your flour and cinnamon into the mixture, going gently so as not to over-mix the cupcakes.
Finally, fold through your chopped pecans into the mixture before spooning into your tin lined with 12 cupcake cases.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, in a 180C oven, until the cupcakes are risen and springy to the touch. Allow these to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
For the Caramel Frosting:
Cream the butter until smooth. Allow 3 minutes for this and use a freestanding mixer if you have one.Add 2 tsp of caramel extract and beat until incorporated. You may have to do a little searching to find caramel extract but it is divine and well worth the hunt! I use a brand called Uncle Roys.
Add your icing sugar and allow at least 5 minutes of beating to make a light, fluffy buttercream. If you buttercream is too dry, add a little milk to soften it. If your buttercream is too runny, add a little more icing sugar.
Top your cupcakes with a piped swirl or a generous spread of this frosting and decorate the tops as you wish. I have gone down the classic route of adding a few more chopped pecans to hint at the cupcake within but I have also drizzled over a little caramel sauce too! These cupcakes are all treat and no trick!