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Spice Cupcakes

These moist, spicy cupcakes with creamy caramel frosting are a delicious treat. The recipe has been in my family for years. When I was growing up, it seemed these cupcakes were always in the freezer, just waiting to be snitched one at a time! —Carla Hodenfield, Ray, North Dakota
  • Total Time
    Prep: 40 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    14 cupcakes


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Coarsely chopped walnuts, optional


  • In a large saucepan, bring water and raisins to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (do not drain).
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in raisins. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts.
  • Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack.
  • For frosting, in a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cream and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat; cook and stir until smooth. Stir in butter and vanilla. Remove from the heat; cool slightly. Stir in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Frost cupcakes; top with nuts if desired.
Nutrition Facts
1 each: 357 calories, 12g fat (4g saturated fat), 25mg cholesterol, 257mg sodium, 61g carbohydrate (46g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.

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  • riverwoman
    Dec 8, 2015

    Delicious cupcakes and frosting, and easy to make. I baked and iced these a week before Thanksgiving and put them in the freezer. They were just as good after freezing as the day I baked them. I actually boiled the raisins late in the afternoon and then decided not to bake that day so I stored the raisins & juice in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I brought this to room temperature and continued with the recipe. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I did spices just as they were written and it was perfect. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • buecm8
    Sep 30, 2015

    My 3-year-old son and I just made these and they are wonderful! Satisfies the sweet tooth without being too sweet, great texture, and very easy to make with a young one. We didn't have raisins on hand, so to get the batter moist enough, we substituted with 1 cup of his Mott's for Tots apple juice, which is kind of like watered-down traditional juice. It worked beautifully. We didn't even add icing, they were good on their own. I'm saving this recipe!

  • stephmat
    Sep 11, 2014

    Made these today and they were very good but next time I'm going to try wolfmommy's idea and soak the raisins in rum first.

  • a2zpair
    Dec 10, 2013

    Can this be made in a loaf instead of cupcakes? It sounds awesome!

  • wolfmommy
    Dec 9, 2013

    Made these today with a small variation. I soaked the raisins in spiced rum then added water to the rum to reach the 2 cups. Finished the cupcakes as written. Then added a teaspoon spiced rum instead of vanilla to the frosting. My husband raved and wants me to make these often.

  • Leigh111999
    Dec 8, 2013


  • amusick911
    Dec 8, 2013

    If you don't want to use the raisins, substitute 3/4 to 1 cup of applesauce....or enough applesauce (to your liking) to make the batter moist .

  • LynnieV
    Dec 8, 2013

    I haven't tried this yet. But for those of you who don't like raisins, you could grind them in the blender and then cook them with the water. That way, you have the moisture with the raisins, but not the texture that so many people don't like with cooked raisins. I've done this with cookies and it turns out great.

  • cdgalin
    Dec 8, 2013

    to all who want to make this without can't, find another recipe...or you could use craisins or dried cherries instead

  • silverfox2951
    Dec 8, 2013

    People are making a mountain out of a molehill about the raisin-water thing. It says, in parenthesis , do not drain. How much more clearer could she have been! Btw Carla, I can see why this recipe has remained in your family for years. It is delicious!! Thank you!!!