Monday, October 31, 2011

Moist Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

"When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,

May luck be yours on Halloween."

~Author Unknown

Happy Halloween to you! A fun holiday indeed. I love dressing up for this delightful day. This year I will be here hoping to get at least one trick or treater. We've lived here five years now and every year we're prepared with the lights on, decorations and pumpkins adorning the porch, bowl of candy in hand, and not a one. We live in the country you see, so you'd have to walk a mile to reach just a few houses. So I don't blame them.

To celebrate in my own small way, I've made these apple cupcakes. Wow are these tasty. Full of shredded apples, they are moist, delicious, and with just enough spice. They aren't too sweet, so they pair perfectly with the sweet caramel buttercream.

Apples for garnish sliced on the mandoline, you need to get them really thin

I've garnished them with some sliced dried apples. Using a mandoline is important to get them really thin. If you don't have one, no worries. Just slice them with a knife as thin as possible. If slicing by hand, they will take a little longer to dry in the oven. Or don't use the garnish at all, they won't mind.

"When witches go riding,

and black cats are seen,

the moon laughs and whispers,

‘tis near Halloween."

~Author Unknown

"Once in a young lifetime one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold."

 ~Judith Olney

"I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween."

~Author Unknown

The new addition to our family, Lucien the papillon

We've gotten a new dog! Lucien the papillon. As you can see, I really wanted to dress him up for Halloween. He doesn't enjoy the holiday like I do. I could barely get these pictures before removing the costumes.

For one of his Halloween costumes he was a chicken

His other costume, a cowboy. He doesn't like dressing up for Halloween

We chose the name Lucien because my husband really wants a doberman. Our next new dog, coming soon. We wanted to give the small dog a chance to become familiar with us before getting a large dog. This new doberman will be female. Her name will be Coco, like Coco Chanel. I looked up Coco Chanel's brothers names and there it was, Lucien. And after all, he's french, so I thought it was fitting. Not so easy to explain though at the groomer.

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Moist Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

makes 24 cupcakes

An original recipe by me, Melissa aka The Alchemist

Ingredients For the Apple Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups (250 g.) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) (113 g.), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (265 g.) brown sugar if using sweet apples, if using tart apples you might increase the sugar to 2 cups (about 320 g.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (61 g.) sour cream or yogurt
3 cups loosely packed  (447 g.) (about 1 lb after shredding) shredded apples - don't include the juice, just the loosely packed apples
Ingredients For the Caramel Buttercream
for pictures of the process of making this frosting, see this post- 
 Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream (for this version I've added less salt, and more powdered sugar so it's more fluffy for frosting cupcakes)

1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) water
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks (339 g.) unsalted butter- at room temperature- or if you use salted, just cut back on the salt, (below)
1/2 tsp.- 1 tsp  fine sea salt (depending if you want salted caramel frosting) I used 1/2 tsp and I liked it that way.
3 cups (345 g.) powdered sugar

For the dried apple garnish

2 or 3 apples, cut in half, then sliced thin on a mandoline

Start by making the Caramel Buttercream

First, get your mise en place ready for the caramel, it will go fast. Measure the cream in a slightly larger vessel than needed. Add the vanilla to it, and place it next to the stove.
In a saucepan where you can see the bottom, like stainless steel, (I used an off white color Le Cruset pan.)

This is important because you will make decisions based on it's color. So if you use a black pan for example, it will be harder to see the color. (I've done it, it is possible, but I don't recommend it.)
Over medium high heat, stir together the granulated sugar and the water. Stop stirring after the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Pull up a chair, you're going to sit and watch this for about 6-8 minutes, till it turns light golden.
During this time, don't stir it. Right when it gets to this point, remove it from the heat. You can swirl the pan a little if you feel like you can't see the color well. You must, I repeat, you must catch it right at this point. If you let it go any longer, it will turn to black in what feels like an instant.

As soon as you remove it from the heat, add the cream/vanilla mixture and stir. It will boil and sputter up. (is that a word?) The sugar will turn to a hard rock, basically. You will feel like you have done something wrong. You haven't.
Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves and becomes homogeneous with the cream. If you feel like it's not happening fast enough, go ahead and put the pan on low heat to help it along.

Using a fine mesh strainer placed over a heat proof bowl, pour in the caramel to remove any bits of sugar remaining.

Set the caramel aside until it's cool to the touch. About 1 1/2- 2 hours. You can also make this part the night before, and let it cool overnight.
While it's cooling, start making the cupcakes. (recipe below)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, (or a large bowl with a handheld) mix the butter and salt (start with 1/2 tsp., add more later when finished to taste) on medium high speed until very light and fluffy. About 4 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar. Beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Then mix again. Add the caramel while the mixer is going on low. After all the caramel is in the butter, turn mixer to medium high and mix very well, until very light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Taste it and see if it needs more salt for your taste. (If you want salted caramel frosting.)

To make the cupcakes


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 4.
Get 2 (12 count) muffin pans ready and line them with cupcake papers.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar till fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again. Add the sour cream (or yogurt if using) and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and beat until all is incorporated. Fold in the grated apples by hand. Make sure they are all incorporated.
With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into cupcake papers filling 3/4 of the way up.
Bake for 23-25 minutes, until they pass a toothpick test.
Finish making the caramel buttercream if you haven't already. And frost cupcakes.
To make dried apple garnish.
Place the thinly sliced apples into a bowl with water and a few tablespoons lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Let them soak for 10 minutes or so.
Dry then off, and place them on baking sheets lined with foil, and bake for 2 hours or so on 200 degrees Fahrenheit, 93 degrees Celsius, or gas mark 1/4. Turn the apples over after 1 hour. Bake them until they are very dry.
Apply them to cupcakes by bending them in half (as if to look like a butterfly's wings), then place them into the frosting of the cupcake.

These cupcakes are best at room temperature. If you refrigerate them the buttercream will become hard, (like butter does) so bring them to room temperature before serving.


Amanda said...

Wow, gorgeous cupcakes! They look delicious. What a cute dog. Thanks for sharing.

Gypsy Heart said...

These look and sound delish! I'd love to have one right now. Your dog is adorable!

P.S. Did you peel the apples prior to shredding? The photo appears as though there is some red peels...just wanted to clarify.

Gypsy Heart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Alchemist said...

Pat- Thank you. No, I didn't peel them first. Happy Halloween!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post as always and the photos clarify the recipe instructions perfectly too.
(Of coursed I could be biased.)

Jenn said...

Wow - what a beautiful photo! I seriously would love to lick the frosting off each and every one of those cupcakes. I would love to give it a try, but I always have trouble with caramel sauce! I might have to try again though, because that frosting sounds and looks amazing.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Mmmm.... I love the idea of caramel buttercream on apple cupcakes. Lovely photos.




Love these cupcakes and we are definitely in the same mood for them...This Lucien tiny dog is the cutest!


Chubskulit Rose said...

So beautiful!

Pink hat, have a great weekend!

Kathryn said...

Those look amazing! Please link them up at Muffin (and Cupcake) Monday. Thanks!

Unknown said...

YUM! I can't wait to try these cupcakes. Thank you so much for sharing. I love your cat goblet, how cute. Your dog is adorable!! I love to back so I will enjoy making these.

Hugs, LisaKay

Belles Roses Romantiques

Kathi-Ann said...

I just made these, and they are amazing! I was just wondering, the frosting doesn't have s strong a caramel taste as I'd like, any suggestions on how to boost it up?

The Alchemist said...

Kathi Ann- I'm glad you liked the cupcakes. About the caramel buttercream, you could make more caramel and add it to the frosting, although you may need to add more powdered sugar to counteract the liquidity of the caramel. It's tricky, I tried to add as much caramel as I could and still be able to pipe it and not have it be too sweet. Another option is that you could add a teaspoon or 2 of a caramel extract or flavoring. I hope that helps.

H.L. War said...

Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.(^〇^) I made these apple cupcakes (sans the spices) for St. Patrick's Day and it was perfect!

By the way, I also appreciate your sharing your recipes at LiveJournal. I wouldn't have found your wonderful blog otherwise (via Curious Cupcakes (。・ω・)ノ゙).

Children's Digital Spaces said...

What hole size did u use on the grater?? I'm worried Cause I heard that if u use a hole that's too small, it'll make ur cake have too much liquid~a dense cake...
Love ur blog btw :)

The Alchemist said...

Angie, I used a food processor to grate them so there is only one option when using the shredding blade. Depending on what size grater you have, I think small to medium is fine. Good luck and happy baking!