Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening until fine crumbs are formed. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and spices. Beat at low speed for 1 minute, then high for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently. Fold in apples.
Pour into greased cupcake pan or paper liners until 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a small saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes and sprinkle with pecans. Insert a Popsicle stick into the center of each cupcake.
*Alternately, you can use a spice cake mix and add the apples, and follow directions for baking on the cake mix box.