Apple Spice Cupcakes with Homemade Caramel Drizzle
This past weekend is the first weekend that it truly felt like fall. I’m talking about feeling the crisp air, seeing the leaves on the ground, the desire to go apple picking and my wanting to wear nothing but leggings, over-sized sweaters and hats.
With this onslaught of fall surrounding the residents of Connecticut, and all of New England for that matter it seemed like the perfect time to try to make some apple spice cupcakes. I can’t take all the credit for this idea, because while I may be running this blog, and am definitely a novice baker, I have my cousin (we’re each other’s own side kicks) who loves to bake just as much, if not more than I do. So from here on out I’ll be documenting OUR baking excursions as we test the perfect cupcakes to someday be made at her own bakery!
Now, this apple spice cupcake recipe is actually a cake recipe from a book called Great Cakes, which we adapted to be able to make cupcake sized portions, because any cupcake lover will tell you, cupcakes are in fact better than a slice of cake!
Apple Spice Recipe:
- 2 ¼ cups sifted flour
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 1 /2 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon– I added 2 tsp just because I love the taste of cinnamon, so don’t be afraid to add more!
- 1 tsp Nutmeg- I wouldn’t add any additional nutmeg because the flavor is so strong and present with just 1 tsp. You want the taste of fall not Christmas!
- ¾ cups pecans- chopped medium fine
- 1/3 cup (2/3) sticks of butter
- 1 tsp lemon zest- Make sure you have a zester or cheese grater! I didn’t have either and was scrambling to find ways to zest my lemon. Also, once you have gotten what you need from the fruit I suggest boiling the leftover bit in water…it’ll make your house smell like fresh lemon.
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 lrg eggs
- 1 medium granny smith apple- peeled and chopped medium (about 2/3 cups)**
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sweetened bottled apple sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir in chopped pecans and set aside.
- Cut the butter into 1” pieces and place in a large bowl. Soften using a mixer on low speed, add in lemon zest. Beat on medium high, until smooth (about a minute). Add shortening and beat for a minute longer.
- Add sugar, 1 tsp at a time, taking 3-4 minutes to blend well, scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time with 1 minute intervals. Reduce speed from medium to low and add in the fresh cut apples and vanilla.
- With the speed on low add the flour mix alternatively in 3 additions, with the applesauce in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mix. Beat until everything is incorporated and after each addition scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 and bake 18-22 minutes. Due to the applesauce it is better to bake them closer to 22 minutes than 18.
Caramel Sauce: This recipe was taken from Food Network and it yielded amazing results. This is something that you really have to pay attention to or you’ll end up burning the sugar, which is never a good thing. Once the caramel is done it tastes like a melted English toffee. The sauce is on the sweeter side, but you can either dip the cupcake in it, or just drizzle it on top, it’s up to you, but it’s a nice addition to the spicy cupcake.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.
The longer you let it stand the thicker the caramel will get, so you don’t want to use it for about 4 hours.