Well, I finally did it.
I managed to cut myself pretty badly yesterday, during my work’s Easter buffet, of all days.
It only required one stitch, thankfully, but my finger is still very numb. I have a consultation with a hand surgeon this week to determine if there is nerve damage/if I’ll need surgery.
To cheer myself up, I decided to make these beauties. I realize it’s officially Spring, but our weather is not cooperating yet, so I decided to just ignore that little fact. These cupcakes are a little bit of work to make, but so worth the effort.
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Yield: About 30 cupcakes
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
4 cups peeled, cored, and grated Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup apple cider or juice
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 1/4 cups pecan halves (5 ounces), toasted, cooled, and finely ground
Put 1/2 stick butter into a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until butter is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in apples, cider, and 1 cup granulated sugar. Raise heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook until apples are golden and translucent and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla bean paste. Let cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Reserve 1/4 cup of the flour mixture. Beat remaining 2 sticks butter, remaining 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, and the brown sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the sour cream and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour mixture to apple mixture, and combine. Fold apple mixture and pecans into batter. Scoop batter into cupcake pans. Bake until tops are medium golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
*Recipe adjusted from Martha Stewart’s Caramelized Apple Spice Cake Recipe
Brown Sugar Swiss Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, slightly cold but pliable
Put egg whites, sugar, and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about 4 minutes. Whip in a stand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition. Meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added. The mixture will break, looking curdled. This is supposed to happen, and the mixture will come back together as it whips further. Whip until frosting is smooth and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes. Pipe buttercream onto cupcakes using a large star tip. Buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring back to room temperature, and beat before using.
*Recipe slightly adjusted from Martha Stewart’s Brown Sugar Swiss Buttercream Recipe
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
¼ cup water
Combine heavy cream and vanilla extract. Set aside. Combine sugar and water in a medium sized pot. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Let mixture boil for five minutes. Remove lid. Do not stir. Allow sugar to caramelize until it is a dark brown. Mixture will bubble up and start to smoke. Turn off heat. Immediately, and carefully, pour heavy cream and vanilla extract into pot. Whisk to combine. Turn heat back on to medium. Boil caramel sauce for one minute. Pour sauce into a metal bowl. Place over an ice bath, and cool completely before storing caramel sauce in the fridge.
*Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Caramel Sauce Recipe
To garnish cupcakes, spoon 1 teaspoon caramel sauce onto each cupcake. Sprinkle with miniature white chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.