Before we ever went picking apples, I had four recipes in mind: apple butter, apple pie, cornbread and sausage stuffed apples, and this little cupcake. I have my recipes for the pie and stuffed apples down cold. And as you, hopefully, noticed earlier this week, I’ve figured out a pretty good recipe for apple butter. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the cupcake. It’s first iteration wasn’t a cupcake at all. It was that Toffee Apple Cake from a couple of weeks ago. And, don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good, but it was missing something and wasn’t exactly what I was looking for to scratch my apple cake itch. But those shredded apples eventually led my brain down the garden path to my other favorite dessert: carrot cake, which got me to thinking….
What if I substitute all that stuff in the carrot cake with apples?
The answer? My new favorite cupcake ever.
Apple Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
4-5 large apples (combination of Pink Lady and Granny Smith- 4 cups, shredded)
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed pecans, toasted (7 minutes, 325 degrees)
1 batch cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
ground nutmeg (optional garnish)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a 1 cup measuring glass, combine the milk and vinegar and set aside. If you have buttermilk, you can just use 3/4 cups buttermilk; however, I never have it on hand, so I like this handy substitution method.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Here’s everything laid out on my clean counter– soon not to be so clean.
Peel the apples.
Then core ’em.
Okay, I just had to include this shot. Look how monstrously huge that apple core is.
Then, using the large holes on a box grater and being very careful, shred the apples. Place the shredded apples in a bowl or large measuring cup– you should have around 4 cups of shredded apple at this point– and set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar.
Beat them together on medium high
until the mixture is thick, creamy, and pale yellow.
Reduce the speed to medium low, and drizzle in the oil, followed by the milk and vinegar mixture, the vanilla, and the spiced flour. Mix just until the ingredients come together. It seems like a thin batter, but it’s really a bit thicker than it looks. It just isn’t all pudding-like.
Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Return to those apples. Since they were going to be baked, I didn’t add any lemon juice. They really didn’t need to be beautiful for the cupcakes. Using your very clean hands, pick up the shredded apples and squeeze them, allowing the juice to run into the bowl. Save the juice. Move the squeezed shredded apples into another container.
Once all of the juice is squeezed out– I got 3/4 cup of juice out of these guys– drop the apples and toasted pecans into the batter.
Then stir them to combine.
Make sure you get the apples thoroughly mixed into the batter. The shreds have a tendency to try to stick together.
It really isn’t a pretty batter, but it smells divine.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners (you do want liners for these, trust me), and spoon them about 3/4 of the way full. I used my gravy ladle to do this– 1 spoonful each seemed to do the trick. I think my ladle holds about 1/4 cup, but I’m not swearing to it. Make sure you wipe up any spills on the tray.
Bake them for 18-22 minutes. Mine were fully cooked at exactly 20 minutes.
While the cupcakes are cooking, pour the apple juice that you reserved into a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until simmering. The juice will get darker, slightly thicker, and sweeter.
When a tester (wooden skewer, or, in my case a knife because all of my wooden skewers have disappeared– I think I “put them away” because Viv kept stealing them, and I can’t remember where I put them) stuck into the middle of one of them comes out clean, remove them from the oven to a cooling rack. Spoon a little bit of the warm apple juice over each cupcake. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then remove them from the muffin tin and start all over.
Now, you can eat them just like this and call them muffins. Personally, I wanted cupcakes, so I mixed up a batch of cream cheese icing, topped them all off,
and called ’em cupcakes! I put a sprinkle of nutmeg over some of them. It was a good call. You could also top them with cinnamon or some toasted pecans.
They were moist and spicy, but not too spicy. They had a texture very similar to carrot cake, yet it wasn’t like eating carrot cake. In short, they were simply delicious.
Yield: 36 cupcakes/ muffins/ apple-pecan filled goodness
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (Took the picture before I added the vanilla–sorry).
Mix them on high until light, creamy, and fully combined.
Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, and mix on high until the frosting is creamy and light.
Two cups of powdered sugar were perfect for me on this particular day, but you may want to add more powdered sugar if it isn’t sweet enough or if the mixture isn’t as stiff enough. If it’s a really humid day, you also may need to add more powdered sugar. Just do it a tablespoon at a time.
Yield: Enough frosting for 48 cupcakes or 1- 9 inch double layer cake