Unlike a friend of mine who insists serving pretzels to children on Halloween is okay (you know who you are), I firmly believe that this holiday deserves to be spent indulging in your sweet tooth.
One of my favorite treats growing up was caramel apples, and though I still have a fondness for all things fruit, what better way to pay homage to this autumn flavor pairing than by turning it into a cupcake?
What I like about this cupcake is its lingering subtleties: a hint of ginger, a little lemon, a smoky caramel and pucker of tart green apple.
The decorations, made of sugar glass, were originally supposed to be cobwebs with piped chocolate spiders on them; however, after an exhausting Saturday night, my Sunday webs became interpretive art instead-but it’s the thought that counts, I’ve heard
- Stand or electric mixer
- Heat-proof measuring cup
- Parchment paper or sil pat/roul pat
For the cupcake: (makes a little over 24 cupcakes)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, rm. temp.
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. lemon extract (lemon juice can also work here)
- Roughly 5 cups (about 4 large apples) cored, peeled, and finely chopped apples (I like to use Granny Smith, as they have the most flavor when baking)
For the salted caramel frosting:
- You can find the recipe here from Blackberry Farms. *Note: Make sure you remove your boiling sugar a little before the sugar by the rim of your pot turns almost black-this means your sugar is burning and should immediately be removed from heat.
For the sugar decorations:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup water
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tin with liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. In a stand mixer, or another very large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add both sugars and beat. Beat in eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly after each to incorporate completely. Then mix in the sour cream and lemon extract until blended. Mix in the flour. *Note: the batter will be very thick, but the addition of the apples will make it more moist. Fold in the apples. Divide batter evenly among the liners-you’ll want to fill the cups all the way to the top. Bake about 25-30 min. until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Frosting: See recipe here.
Sugar decorations: *Note: to see how to do this, watch this video. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir on medium-low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Once clear, don’t stir, as this will upset the sugar. Boil anywhere from about 5-10 min. on medium-high heat until the color turns to amber. Pour immediately into a measuring cup. Stir frequently with a heat-proof spoon or spatula to have the sugar cool both on the edges of the cup and in the middle. Using your heat-proof spoon/spatula, make designs over your parchment or sil pat/roul pat. Wait until the sugar has completely dried-about 5-10 min, then either lift off or break into pieces (which is what I did for my cupcakes).