Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes

http://cravingchronicles.com/2011/09/22/caramel-apple-pie-cupcakes/

Makes about 24 cupcakes

There are several steps to complete before assembling the cupcakes, but some can be done a day ahead to speed things up. The caramel and apple filling can both be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Let them come to room temperature (or gently warm caramel) before using. You won’t need the whole batch of caramel, so feel free to half it if you don’t want a bunch leftover. Any leftover pie filling + caramel sauce + greek yogurt makes a fantastic breakfast or snack!

Ingredients

2 cups Apple Filling (below)
1 cup Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce (below)
24 Cinnamon Cupcakes (below)
1 batch of Caramel Swiss Buttercream Frosting (below)

Directions

Working with completely cooled, use a small paring knife to cut out a cone shaped wedge from the center of each cupcake. (Like when cutting the lid off of a jack-o-lantern.) Save the “lids”. If needed, scrape out a little bit of cake from each hole to make more room for filling – just don’t go too far or your cupcakes will fall apart. Fill each hole not quite to the top with Apple Filling (about 1/2 tablespoon). Replace “lids”, trimming off the bottoms of the “lids” if necessary.

Pipe frosting on cupcakes. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

Serve same day as assembled, or freeze for long term storage.


Apple Filling

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 pounds (approx.) Honey Crisp apples (about 4 medium), peeled, cored, and finely diced
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples, sugars, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook until apples are tender and release their juices – about 10 minutes. In a small bowl or glass, combine cornstarch and water. Add to apples and stir, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. (Cover and refrigerate overnight if making ahead.)


Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Annie’s Eats
Makes 2 1/2 cups

A word of caution: Making caramel is tricky. Have patience and have all of your ingredients ready to go. Caramel also gets very, very hot. Much hotter than boiling water. It will spatter, so be careful. Wear long sleeves, use a deep pan or pot, and do not try to taste the hot caramel no matter how much you want to! David Lebovitz has some great tips for making caramel.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Directions

Measure heavy cream in a measuring cup. Scrape out vanilla bean seeds and add to cream. Set aside.

Spread sugar in an even layer on the bottom of a heavy, tall-sided sauce pan or pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently with a heat-proof spatula or whisk to promote even browning, until sugar melts. Once the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring.

Watch carefully. When the caramel turns a rich amber color and smells like caramel, remove from heat and immediately whisk in cream. (Caution: Caramel will bubble violently!) If any sugar has hardened, return to low heat and whisk until smooth.

Cool to room temperature. To store or make ahead, transfer to an air-tight container and keep refrigerated. Caramel can be re-warmed in microwave or in a saucepan over low heat, if needed.


Cinnamon Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats
Makes about 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture and beat on low just until incorporated. Add milk mixture and vanilla, and beat until blended.

Divide evenly among baking tins. Bake at 350°F for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Caramel Swiss Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Flour Child
Makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes

It’s very important that your caramel be no warmer than room temperature when you add it to the frosting, or your frosting will melt.

Ingredients

6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup Vanilla Bean Caramel sauce (above), cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Place a saucepan with about 2 inches of water over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Place bowl over pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until mixture an instant-read thermometer reads 160°F. (Sugar will be dissolved and mixture will start to resemble marshmallow fluff.)

Remove bowl from heat and attach to stand mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment until stiff meringue peaks form and the outside of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 10 minutes. Switch to paddle attachment. On low speed, add one cube of butter at a time, waiting until incorporated before adding the next. Once all butter is added, on low speed slowly pour in caramel. Add vanilla and continue beating until smooth. (If frosting curdles, just keep beating! If frosting is soupy, place mixer bowl in fridge for 10-15 minutes and beat until smooth. Repeat if necessary.)