I like to make a new recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas every year. It gives me the chance to experiment and get feedback on if others like it too. I found the recipe for these here and I knew I just had to try them. Since you are using a boxed cupcake mix it is not too labor intensive, though there are a few steps.
Ingredients: One box of Duncan Hines Caramel cake mix (plus ingredients to make according to box) ~ One bag (14 oz) Kraft Caramels or bits ~ ½ cup sweetened condensed milk ~ 1/4c. butter or margarine ~ 1 stick (4 oz) salted butter ~ 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter ~ 2 cups powdered sugar ~ 2 teaspoons clear vanilla flavoring ~ 1 packet of Crystal Light – Appletini
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Make cake mix according to box and divide into 24 cupcake liners in a cupcake tin. Bake according to box. Remove from oven and cool completely.
In a small saucepan, combine caramels, sweetened condensed milk and butter (The bits is only 11 ounces so I added a few cubes of leftover caramels I had in my house). Melt (stirring constantly) until creamy and smooth.
Pour warm caramel into a small bowl. Dip tops of cooled cupcakes into caramel to coat the top. If it cools too much and hardens you can microwave for 15 seconds, then stir to smooth.
Allow caramel to cool completely. Make frosting by adding butters, powdered sugar, vanilla and Crystal Light drink mix together in a mixing bowl. Beat together on low until combined and then beat on high until light and fluffy. **note: the apple flavor in the drink mix is strong and tart– I only added a third of the packet and it was really sour/tart, you might want to add it a little at a time and taste as you go to decide how strong a flavor you want.**
Frost each cupcake with the apple frosting, then try not to devour them all in one sitting!