Eat Like a Princess - Snow White - Hard Cider Character Cupcakes

To finish up our month in the kitchen with Snow White, I wanted to some fun cupcakes! Instead of baking a full pie or doing a poison apple recipe I stretched my icing skills and created these colorful treats. Still inspired by the apple theme, though, they are filled with apple pie filling. The cake is spiced vanilla bean cake with a twist. Apple pie spice usually is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and/or allspice. To make it a little less traditional I added coriander! Coriander is actually the name for the dried plant and seeds. Fresh we call it cilantro! It is spicy and nutty when dried, citrusy and floral when fresh.

I completely advocate baking with vanilla bean if you can stomach the price. The vanilla bean in the cake is sweet and floral while the spices are warm but not over pouring. Technically this cake is also in my "adults only" category because I used a hard apple ale for the liquid in the batter. At home you can easily sway this out for regular apple cider or juice. You could definitely smell the apple in the uncooked batter. After baking it reinforces the sweet and aromatic flavor experience of these cupcakes. The apple pie filling is made with Granny Smith apples and provides an additional contrast in sweetness with some tart!

The most complicated part of these cupcakes isn't the cupcake itself but the frosting. I made only one batch of vanilla buttercream and really stretched it between seven different colors (including white). Between Snow White and each of the dwarfs I also used multiple piping techniques and tips. To minimize the mess and conserve my tools, I added the icing to a sheet of plastic wrap and rolled it into a sausage. This allowed me to keep my piping bag clean and switch between colors with less waste. Check out this video on how to use this life saving technique!

Building these cupcakes required three steps. What I call the "beard" layer or white buttercream which was whipped at high speed in my stand mixer to brighten it up formed the first layer of icing on 6 of 7 dwarfs. The second layer was the hat. This involved mixing up four different colors and separating them into buttercream packets. The hardest color by far was the tan. I mixed a medium amount of orange, small amount of yellow and a tiny bit of black together until I was satisfied. This color also doubled for Dopey's base layer since he is beardless. I added a few accessories; Doc received a pair of glasses made from a paperclip and plastic lenses, Grumpy got some chocolate sprinkles added to his hat, and Dopey has his signature ears. I simply rubbed some cocoa powder on candy melts to make them more skin toned!

Snow White's blue and red rosette may look complicated but it is actually pretty easy. The hardest part for me was trying not to be perfect! Using the same method as the smaller packets, I dropped dollops of red and blue frosting into sheet, rolled and smoothed to try and eliminate air bubbles, then piped a rose starting from the middle and worked my way out! Using this technique you can add multiple colors for a simple two tone effect or multiple colors for tie-dye! The bow is made using a mold I bought on Etsy filled with red candy melts. Always remember to dust a mold with flour or corn starch when making a fondant or candy/chocolate melt piece to prevent sticking! Lastly I used an edible glitter to dust the bow and buttercream.

I used Wilton Gel food colors to achieve to bright colors and minimize the thinning impact of regular food dye on the buttercream. Also, if you're looking for really intense or true colors, gels will give you the best saturation and you won't end up with pastels. However, they can dry out it not used and open for long periods.

Give these a try - you won't be disappointed! If you're not sure you want to spend the extra cash and time with the colors don't cook the apples all the way down. Leave a thin caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan. After piping on the vanilla buttercream, drizzle with the apple-cinnamon flavored caramel sauce and sprinkle with nuts, pearls, or diamonds! Has anyone figured out why the dwarfs are dig, dig, digging yet?

During the stay-at-home order in Colorado, I have been focusing on baking and creating to minimize my anxiety. I am also in the process of finding a new job which is not ideal in the middle of a pandemic. Today Disneyland also announced that they will be closed until further notice which cancels my birthday trip. All of this means that the blog will continue to be filled with sweet and savory treats in the coming months. Including my own interpretation of some delicious looking menu items from the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival!

Hard Cider Spiced Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Yield 24 cupcakes


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and de-seeded
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple juice, apple cider, or hard cider


  • 4 medium apples (Granny Smiths for tartness or Honeycrisp for sweetness)
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups of confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 tbs heavy cream
  • gel food colors, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with papers. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream softened butter and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla bean, and spices. Mix until combined. In a separate medium bowl, whisk baking powder into flour.
  2. Starting and ending with dry ingredients, alternatively and flour/baking powder and apple cider mixing between each addition until combined. Batter will be thick.
  3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full or about 3 tbs. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a tooth pick comes away clean.
  4. While cupcakes are baking, dice apples into small cubes. Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until butter melts and comes a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 12 minutes stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue to cook down using a wooden spoon to encourage apples to break down. 
  5. Reduce sauces in pan until they coat the back of spoon for drizzling or cook down for 5-10 more minutes for filling only. Cook completely.
  6. To make buttercream, whip butter with vanilla extract with paddle attachment in bowl of stand mixer. Add sugar 1 cup at a time until incorporated starting on low and ending on high for 30 seconds. Once all sugar is added, thin with heavy cream to desired consistency for piping. Give it one final whip for 30 seconds to 1 min to whiten. Divide into bowls and color with gel food colors if desired.
  7. Using a cupcake corer or the large end of a piping tip, make a hole in the middle of the cupcake. Press cake down with fingers. Using a small spoon, fill cupcake cavities. Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake. Top with decorations. Enjoy!

 And the answer is yes. Some of these colors will stain your teeth temporarily like those tartar detection tablets in elementary school. Anyone else remember those besides me? Comment below!


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