Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Our family's Thanksgiving always consisted of the typical turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, but then there was dessert; pecan pies, pumpkin pies, apple pies, and even lemon meringue. (Obviously baking runs in my blood)  Although not as traditional as the pies, the flavor of these cupcakes scream Fall, and would make a great addition to my family's dessert buffet.
The cake was very light and moist, tasting a little like a spicy cinnamony carrot cake. (The apple flavor went missing.) The frosting, a delicious and ridiculously smooth buttercream, with a perfect caramel flavor that wasn't too rich or too sweet. I was so pleased with the texture of the frosting that I am thinking about trying it in other flavors as well. As for the reviews, it was unanimous everyone LOVED them, even that super picky co-worker who complains about everything, yeah that one, he ate two. (:

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Adapted from Baked
Makes a boatload of cupcakes (about 45)

Apple Cake:
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
2 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups applesauce (I used 1/2 regular & 1/2 cinnamon)

Caramel Butter Cream:
1 ½ cups sugar
⅓ cup flour
1 ½ cups milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoon Smuckers Caramel Sauce at room temperature (Mrs Richardson's would probably be better)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Divide the batter into cupcake pan. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 and bake 20-30 minutes,  until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let sit until cool enough to touch. Remove cupcakes from baking pan and let cool completely.

Caramel Buttercream:
In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce speed to low and add the butter and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Add ⅓ cup of the caramel and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is to firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Frost cooled cupcakes and drizzle with the remaining caramel. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm before serving.

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