Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Prepare a muffin tin or a baking tray with 15-20 paper cups.
Peel the apples and remove the core. Cut the apples into small pieces. Mix apples, raisins and lemon juice in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Mix together well so that all the apple pieces and raisins are coated with sugar and cinnamon.
Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and almond essence in a mixer on medium speed.
In a bowl, whisk eggs and add buttermilk.
When the butter mixture is creamy, add half the egg mixture to it. When the egg mixture is incorporated into the butter mixture add half the flour. Once the flour is incorporated into the batter add the other half of the egg mixture and the other half of the flour in the same way. Mix for another half minute and fill the paper cups with the batter.
Add a bit of the apple mixture on top of each cupcake pushing it very lightly into the batter. Finish it off with a light sprinkle of the juice of the apple mixture.
Bake the cupcakes in the centre of the oven for about 25-30 minutes until they firm up. The cupcakes are ready when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let them cool for a while and put them on a wire rack.
Put water, rum, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil while stirring. Make sure the sugar has melted completely.
Once the mixture starts to foam keep on the heat for another 20 seconds while stirring constantly. Take of the heat and quickly spoon the caramel over the cupcakes. Make sure you do this quickly, as soon as the caramel begins to cool it will be harder and thicker. If the caramel becomes too thick you can put it back on the heat again to warm and soften, you can also add a bit of water or rum to melt the caramelized sugar again.
Cream Cheese Topping
When the caramel topped cupcakes are completely cooled, you can decorate them with a cream cheese topping. Mix the cream cheese frosting for this with the cinnamon and pipe it on the cupcakes. Serve immediately.