Caramel cupcake

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

The Vanilla Cupcake, with a Twist (Actually, a Swirl)
Instead of jazzing up a basic vanilla cupcake with frosting or filling, this outrageous recipe has you swirling caramel sauce into the cake itself (it's your choice whether to add frosting on top of that). It's a brilliant technique: You scoop the batter into tins until each is just over 3/4 full, and then spoon about a teaspoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, whirling it into the batter with a toothpick. We love using Happy Goat's buttery vanilla-bean caramel sauce, but any kind will give you delicious results.

Get the recipe: Caramel Sauce Cupcakes
Cherry cupcake

Photo: Eric Isaac

The Boozy Party Cupcake
Cherries jubilee may be one of the most celebratory-sounding desserts ever, and these cupcakes from Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes take the concept—cherries plus liqueur flambéed—to a new level. They're vanilla cakes with a French buttercream frosting that has cherries-jubilee syrup stirred in. And, three cherries on top; because, hey, it's a jubilee.

Get the recipe: Cherries Jubilee Cupcakes
Red Hot Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

Photo: Anna Williams

The Red Velvet Cupcake You Weren't Expecting
We have a sneaking suspicion that the real reason many people love red velvet isn't the cool color or even the rich taste of the cake itself—it's the decadent cream cheese frosting (and we can't blame them). These treats from the masterminds behind Baked, the Brooklyn bakery and line of baking mixes, use that topping to brilliant effect by stirring in cinnamon; it adds a sweet and hot edge to the cool and fluffy cheese.

Get the recipe: Red Hot Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
Tres Leches Cupcakes

Photo: Eric Isaac

The Reason to Start Calling Cupcakes "Magdalenas"
This heavenly cupcake (or magdalena, in Spanish) from Robicelli's is a combination of two favorite Latin American sweets: tres leches cake and dulce de leche (you mix the latter with buttercream to make a frosting). Top this light and moist dessert with caramel shards—they're easy to make with just water and sugar—for a little bit of crunch.

Get the recipe: Tres Leches Cupcakes
Bake-Sale Pie Cupcakes

Photo: Alan Richardson

The Candy-Pie Cupcake
Although these adorable treats appear to be mini pies, they're really just a very creative use of candy and frosting. The blueberry-and-cherry pie filling is actually blue or red M&M's, and the frosting is tinted and piped to look like a lattice crust.

Get the recipe: Bake-Sale Pie Cupcakes
Banana Nutella Cupcake

Photo: Eric Isaac

The Cupcake That Celebrates the Other Amazing Chocolate Combination
Chocolate-peanut butter gets a lot of love, but Nutella (the chocolate-hazelnut spread) and bananas deserve some, too. Witness this outrageous cupcake from Robicelli's: It's a banana cake covered in Nutella buttercream, with bits of hazelnut praline sprinkled on top (crushed banana chips, roasted hazelnuts or a mixture of the two would work equally well).

Get the recipe: Banana Nutella Cupcake
Gluten-Free Cappuccino Ice Cream Cupcakes

Photo: Stephen Gross

The Cupcake for When You Really Want an Ice Cream Sundae
Silvana Nardone, who writes the blog Silvana's Kitchen, makes edible bowls out of finely ground sugar cones, butter and chocolate. She fills them with coffee ice cream and chopped, chocolate-covered espresso beans and finishes off each one with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Bonus: They're gluten-free.

Get the recipe: Gluten-Free Cappuccino Ice Cream Cupcakes
Blueberry Yogurt Cupcakes

Photo: Joel Brown

The French Cupcake
Cookbook author and baking guru Dorie Greenspan makes a French yogurt cake that's wonderfully moist and lemony. To take it one step further, Joel Brown, a reader and member of the online cooking club built around one of Greenspan's books, cupcake-ified it, first by turning the loaf cake into individual cakes, and then topping them with a lemon glaze and a dollop of canned blueberry pie filling.

Get the recipe: Blueberry Yogurt Cupcakes
Delicious Apple Cupcakes

Photo: Johnny Miller

The Seasonal Cupcake You Can Turn to Any Time of Year
Dessert stylist Amy Atlas makes these apple-like cakes for back-to-school events and bake sales, but you can vary the color of the sanding sugar on top to make them look like any fruit: strawberries in spring, peaches in summer or oranges and lemons in winter.

Get the recipe: Delicious Apple Cupcakes
The Maple-Bacon Cupcake

Photo: Molly Rundberg

The Bacon Cupcake (Trust Gayle on This One)
When Gayle King judged the Vendy Awards (a cook-off among New York's street food vendors), she was surprised to discover that the Cupcake Crew's maple-and-bacon cupcake was the best thing she ate: "I knew I liked maple and that I also liked bacon, but who knew how much I'd like them together?"

Get the recipe: Gayle King's Favorite Cupcake - The Maple-Bacon Cupcake

Next: 6 birthday cakes everyone wants to celebrate their day