Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apple Pie Cupcakes

Last week I mentioned that my two favorite flavors of fall are pumpkin and apple. Well, after opening one of those giant 32oz cans of pumpkin and making use of all the delicious goodness inside, I'm ready to move on to the wonderful world of apples! (This doesn't mean I'm done with pumpkins, by any stretch!)
I wanted to bring a bunch of cupcakes to a dear friend of mine who did a huge favor for me this week. She has two young kids, so an apple cupcake is a healthier, more acceptable flavor for them, which works well for me. After spending some time thinking about what flavors could meld well with apples and drawing inspiration from this idea, I decided I definitely wanted the flavors of this cupcake to echo those of a warm, buttery apple pie. I didn't just want apple pie filling in a vanilla cupcake, though. I wanted you to feel like you were eating apple pie in cupcake form - crispy, flaky crust and all.
My base was to be a brown butter cupcake. If you haven't already, you really need to brown butter in your kitchen. The nutty, buttery aroma fills your house. It's butter, only taken up 10 notches... The brown butter cupcake is like a toasted vanilla cupcake, which, in this case, reflected the crust of an apple pie. For the filling, I made a traditional apple pie filling and cut out a substantial chunk of the cupcake to fill it up. What did I do with the cut-outs, you are wondering? Dunno.. They seemed to disappear as I was cutting them.. :-)

After having discovered Biscoff spread a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate this flavor into these cupcakes. So I made a Biscoff buttercream to top off my apple pie cupcakes with. Biscoff, in case you are not aware, is a European cookie. It's cinnamon-y and caramel-y and crunchy and satisfying. If you've ever flown Delta, you'll know that it's the in-flight cookie of choice. Biscoff spread is a molten, spreadable cookie-in-a-jar. Think Nutella, only different... in a good way. You have to try it. You can find it near the peanut butter and other spreadable goodies in your local grocery store. Try it, and let me know what you think.

My cupcake taster this time around was my hubbie. I had cut one of the finished cupcakes in half to photograph for this post earlier in the day so there were two halves sitting on the plate waiting for him. My hubbie said he would probably only have one half. He's not too big on sweets, especially apple pie. He'd rather have a beer than dessert... the thought is incomprehensible, especially as my husband! But to his credit, he always makes sure he tastes my creations and gives me his 100% honest critique on them. *LOVE* Ok, enough about him. I turned away from him for a minute and when I turned back, the plate was empty. He gave me a grin and said "that was the best cupcake you've ever made." He is not one to give compliments easily. He tells it like it is. *LOVE x 2*

Apple Pie Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream

Brown Butter Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (heated to brown butter point)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Apple Pie Filling:
2 T and 1/2 T butter, unsalted and separate
1 T flour
3 apples (any kind), small dice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 t Apple pie spice
Biscoff Buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted 
3-4 cups confectioners sugar
4 T Biscoff spread
1/4 cup milk, cream, or half and half
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla extract  

Preheat your oven to 350F. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Cream the eggs and sugar in a mixer until thick and pale.  On low, add the butter, salt, and vanilla until combined. Then add the milk. Once incorporated, add the dry ingredients until just combined.
Bake in lined cupcake wrappers for 20 - 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out crumb-free. While the cupcakes are baking, make the apple pie filling. In a saute pan on medium heat, melt the 2 T of butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the diced apple and sugars and cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples begin to soften. Then sprinkle the apple pie spice on the mixture as well as the flour. Toss and cooke for another 5 minutes. Turn off the stove and add the remaining 1/2 T of butter. Combine well. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the buttercream: Beat the butter for a few minutes until light and airy. Add the salt and vanilla and then the powdered sugar a cup at a time, reducing to 1/2 cup at a time to determine the consistency you desire. Blend in the Biscoff  buttercream until well incorporated. At this point you can adjust the consistency of your buttercream with the milk/cream/half and half.
To assemble the cupcakes: Take a cupcake and gently cut out the center with a knife in the shape of a cone. You can take out as much or as little as you'd like based on how much filling you want in your cupcakes. Then add about a tablespoon (more or less depending on the size of the hole) of apple pie filling to the cupcake. Frost as desired.

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