This week I was lucky to escape the windy city in favor of sunny Florida where I’ve been vacationing with my family. While I’ve been enjoying relaxing by the pool with my sister, walking with my dad, and doing puzzles with my mom, I haven’t been able to get in much cooking. And this is especially sad given that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite eating holidays, right up there with Passover and that’s just because I’m a sucker for matzo ball soup.
A few nights ago we were eating dinner with extended family and I was excited, not to mention a little surprised, when my sister, Marci, volunteered the two of us to make a dessert to bring to my aunt’s house for the big dinner. It was a little daunting because the home we’re staying in has a kitchen that isn’t equipped with much more than a mixing bowl, hand-mixer, half-sized cutting board, paring knife, and non-stick egg pan. Despite this, I was up for the task.
And quite a task it was. Marci decided we should make apple cinnamon cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. Sounds great, I thought, as I turned to the Internet to find a recipe to work off of. Well, it turned out a to be a bit more challenging than I’d anticipated.
For starters, there were very few recipes for apple cupcakes and those that did exist had less than stellar reviews or seemed like they’d turn out more like muffins, which are more dense and often dryer than cupcakes. But eventually we came across this Food Network recipe that I adapted to better fit what we were going for. And it still took a bit of trial and error to reach the right level of apple-cinnamony goodness that Marci was hoping to achieve, but we did it!
The final cupcakes were moist with great cinnamon spice flavor and speckled with small bits of apple pieces. And then there was the frosting. Oh my, it was fantastic, both sweet and tangy with just a hint of apple flavor and was a perfect compliment to the cupcakes.
Here’s the recipe:
Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes with Apple Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted from Food Network, makes 30 cupcakes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup apple butter (no sugar added)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups peeled, cored and finely chopped apples, preferably Granny Smith
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two cupcake trays with liners. It’s best to bake the cupcakes in batches to ensure even cooking.
In a medium bowl whisk or sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Use either a stand or hand mixer. Add the granualted sugar and beat until combined, then mix in the brown sugar. Beat another 2 minutes until both sugars are completely incorporated and the butter is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla.
Pour in one-third of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add half the apple butter and mix well, then add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining apple butter. Add the remaining flour then the sour cream and beat until just combined. Fold in the chopped apples.
Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake trays and fill two-thirds of the way up. Bake the cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove and cool to room temperature.
Bake the remaining cupcakes until all the batter has been used. Cool all the cupcakes completely before icing.
Apple Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted from Epicurious
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
Combine the butter and brown sugar a large bowl and beat with a stand or electric mixer until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until fluffy, then beat in the powdered sugar. Add the apple butter and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste and spread on the cupcakes to frost.