Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cupcake Tuesday-Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

When the weather starts to get cold I always get really excited.  While the bright sunshine of the spring/summer is certainly beautiful, I just love the cold and DESPISE the heat.  I love being able to wear cardigans and big puffy sweaters.  I love cuddling up with a warm drink and a blanket.  I love the beauty of the snow as it blankets our trees and yards.
The finished product.

All of this to say that I also love the flavors of the fall and the winter.  The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, the warmth of a spiced cider.  It's all so lovely.  So I made it into a cupcake, because really what else would I do.

Apple Spice Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Beat on medium until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and continue to beat on medium for about a minute.  (I learned the hard way that if you let this go too long it will severely affect the texture...oops!)  While the eggs are mixing in add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.

Once the butter mixture is smooth and just fluffy add 1/3 of the flour.  Mix on low, until just incorporated and add the applesauce.  Beat gently.  Add the baking soda and baking powder.  Add another 1/3 of the flour and continue mixing on low.  Add in the sour cream, followed by the last 1/3 of the flour and mix until everything is combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix one last time.

I use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to fill my cupcake pans, but you can also use two spoons and fill about 2/3 of the way full.  With this batter it's hard to tell because it's pretty thick, which is why the scoop is a good call.

Scoop into lined cupcake pans.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool.

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce*

In a stand mixer, or a bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and the cream cheese until smooth, about 3 minutes on high.  With the mixer on low, start adding the powdered sugar, slowly.  After you have added about half of your powdered sugar, add in the caramel sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the remaining powdered sugar until you have reached your desired consistency. (For me this differs every time, make sure to keep tasting as you go so that it doesn't get too sweet.)  You can add more salt if desired.

Pipe or spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.

*Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt.
3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

In a medium sauce pan, mix together the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt using a wooden spoon.  Bring to a gentle boil and allow to cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to turn the color of caramel, about 15 minutes.  Make sure to keep an eye on the mixture as it is heating, it can burn very quickly.  Once the sugar is golden in color, remove from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream while stirring quickly with a wooden spoon.  Transfer to a squeeze bottle or just use a spoon to drizzle onto cupcakes.
My "sneak peak" of the cupcakes that I shared via Instagram.

To finish off my cupcakes I cut thin slices of granny smith apples and coated them in lemon juice (this helps prevent browning).  I then dipped them in the caramel and put them on top of the frosting, letting the caramel drip down.  To be honest, the original plan was to let the caramel stiffen before putting on to the cupcakes, it would probably look prettier and be less messy, but I got tired, and this worked great!




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