Fall flavors abound at this time of year, including, but not limited to, apple and pumpkin. It seems every cupcakery is doing some version of those two flavors in particular this year, so I thought I'd do a head to head comparison for a couple in Kansas City:
Cupcake A La Mode, located on the Plaza and in Park Place featured a Pumpkin Cheesecake and a Caramel Apple over Thanksgiving. As usual, their cakes were of an amazing texture I have yet to find anywhere else (nationwide!). The apple cupcake had real bits of apple in the cake itself, but I could have used more caramel in the icing. Because the theme was "caramel apple", not "apple pie", which is more common, there were also crushed peanuts on the outside of the cupcake, but I found that addition a bit jarring and actually ended up picking some of them off. The icing layer of the pumpkin cheesecake cupcake is where the pumpkin cheesecake flavor was located and it really tasted like real pumpkin cheesecake (though lighter and fluffier), but by itself, it was a bit overpowering, whereas a bite of all the layers together was thoroughly enjoyable.
At Addictions cupcakery in Zona Rosa, I purchased 6 cupcakes, but most of them were very dry, so I was excited when I got to their pumpkin spice cupcake because it was moist and delicious and fit the bill through and through. There was nothing special about the cupcake, but they did the simple spice cake combination just right and chopped walnuts on top were a welcome addition. The apple pie cupcake was again a bit dry and hard and the icing was tangy in a not-so-pleasant way. In addition, they used canned apple pie filling in the middle instead bits of real apples, so the overall combination "didn't work for me", as Florian Bellanger of Cupcake Wars might say.
In the end, please draw your own conclusions from my descriptions about which pumpkin or apple cupcake might be better for your own tastebuds, but personally, I'd say it was a tie for pumpkin and win for A La Mode for the apple. I will try to do the same for December flavors soon!
P.S. I took a picture of the interior display at Addictions to share with you, however, because it was just so lovely! They wanted to have a display window in the front of their shop when they opened on Black Friday 2012 (that was brave!), but their landlord doesn't allow it. It's too bad, because I'd like to see more from them.