Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 6-cup doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease with butter.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, canola oil, apple butter, apple cider and vanilla until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips if using.
Spoon the batter into the doughnut molds, filling to just below the top of each mold, 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3 to 6 mm) from the top. Bake for 20 to 26 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges. The doughnuts are supposed to have a gooey center. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Slide a thin spatula around the edges of the doughnuts to help loosen them out. Then place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before glazing. Repeat with the remaining batter.
To make the caramel, add the apple cider to a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil, boil for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the cider has reduced to about 1/3 cup and is thick and syrupy. Reduce the heat and add the brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the the caramel has thickened and is dark in color. Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Dip or drizzle the doughnuts in the caramel. If the caramel thickens too much, just place over low heat and add a splash of cream to thin the caramel.
*Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine April/May 2016 Issue.