Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

I love everything about the fall: apples, pumpkins, cool weather, changing leaves, etc. But I've seriously been slacking this year. Pastry school has been keeping me super busy and I haven't had any time to make any fall treats. When I heard about the What's Baking cooking group from my favorite cooking board, I knew I wanted to participate, especially since this month's theme is fall cupcakes, two of my favorite things. We went to the local orchard over the weekend and picked up a barrel of Macintosh apples that were just begging to be used in a recipe. I had been eying a recipe for caramel apple cupcakes in the October issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray.

I liked the method for this cupcake recipe. Just shred the apples and stir all the ingredients together. No mixer involved. Plus, it yielded only 12 cupcakes, which is a perfect amount since I'm bringing home hoards of treats from school. (This week is tarts!) Instead of topping these with caramel, I opted for a caramel buttercream. While the buttercream was delicious, I don't think these cupcakes needed any frosting at all. It overwhelmed the fresh apple flavor, but they were delicious nonetheless. 

Apple Cupcakes
Source: Every Day with Rachel Ray, October 2010

2 apples, peeled and shredded (sprinkle w/ lemon juice to prevent browning)
1 and 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed tightly)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Whisk in oil and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in the apples.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 22 - 28 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before topping with frosting.

Caramel Buttercream
1 stick butter 
2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons water
15 caramel candies

Melt caramels in microwave for about 1 minute. Stir well and cool. Cream the butter. Add vanilla and beat well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Add the caramel and beat well.

*TIP: Since I didn't wait for the caramel to cool completely, I used slightly cold butter so it didn't melt during mixing.

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