So, Sheryl over at Lady Behind the Curtain has started hosting a monthly Improv Cooking Challenge on her blog. The idea is that two ingredients will be assigned each month, and every participant is supposed to create something delicious with those ingredients. This is my first time being invited to do something like this, and I’m super excited — I think it’s going to be a lot of fun! I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.
This month’s ingredients = caramel + apple. Caramel and apples are two ingredients that go together so well, and are paired in dishes all the time, but I was seriously stumped for a while about what to do. I thought about making caramel candied apples, but that seemed boring, and just a little too literal. So, I headed online to search for inspiration, and finally narrowed my choices down to three recipes: caramel apple tarts, gooey caramel apple cookies, or caramel apple pie cupcakes. They all looked and sounded great, but in the end, I settled on cupcakes because the recipe seemed so intriguing — cinnamon-y cupcakes stuffed with apple pie filling, topped with creamy frosting, and drizzled with caramel sauce. Mmm…
In the original recipe, these cupcakes were topped with a buttercream frosting; however, after looking at my fridge full of banana cake and whoopie pies, I decided there was enough butter-based frosting in my life for now. Instead, I topped my cupcakes with whipped cream for a slightly lighter, airy-er treat. The result was that these cupcakes tasted kind of like warm apple pie served with whipped cream and melted caramel sauce.
I love apple pie, so I was surprised to find that I wasn’t crazy about these cupcakes. The cakes were soft and cinnamon-y, the filling was thick and sweet, and the whipped cream frosting just melted in my mouth, but…I would have preferred a stronger apple flavor overall. On the other hand, Dan loved these cupcakes — he came home from work and inhaled six in a row. He thought the apple flavor was just right, and especially loved the surprise pie-filling center. In his words, “they’re just so light and fluffy, and easy to eat.” So, maybe it’s just me. But, I’d still like to see what happens if I add apple sauce to the batter and making my own filling. Next time!
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Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes (Adapted from the Craving Chronicles recipe)
– 1 cup milk
– 1 stick butter
– 2 cups all purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 1 pinch nutmeg
– 1 pinch ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 4 large eggs
– 1-1/2 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 cups store bought apple pie filling
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 3 to 4 tbsp powdered sugar
– 1/2 cup caramel sauce (store bought)
(1) Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners
(2) Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat.
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
(4) In a separate, large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until thick ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix until just until incorporated.
(5) Add milk mixture and vanilla, then mix until blended.
(6) Divide evenly among baking tins, about 1/4 cup per tin.
** The original recipe said this should make 24 cupcakes…I somehow only had enough batter for 20.
(7) Bake 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.
(8) When cupcakes are cool, use a cupcake corer or spoon to scoop a hole out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with as much apple pie filling as it can handle.
** I used about 1-1/2 tsp filling per cupcake.
(9) Using an electric mixer, beat whip cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer into a piping bag with star tip, and frost each cupcake.
** I don’t like my whipped cream to be too sweet, so I don’t use a ton of powdered sugar. You should add more or less based on your own personal tastes.
(10) Dip a fork into your caramel sauce, and drizzle caramel on top of each cupcake. The more the better!
(11) Serve and enjoy!