When I was a kid, our small town had a fair every summer complete with rickety rides, farm animals, and “fair food”. It was the one time of the year when eating funnel cakes, cotton candy and caramel apples was normal and almost expected. Those caramel apples were not very sophisticated – just an apple on a stick dipped in chocolate – but eating one on the midway seemed awfully special. A local chocolate company sells apples dipped in a layer of caramel and then a layer of white chocolate. Now THAT is something special! But I digress. Risa at Baked Perfection came up with this recipe that reminds me of the county fair caramel apples of my youth. I wonder if I can find a cotton candy cupcake, too?
Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream Frosting
makes 24 cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated apples**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars until creamy. Beat in the the orange juice, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Slowly add the flour mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in the grated apples. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely before frosting.
**Bakers Note – I prefer to use a mix of sweet and sour apples. For my latest batch I used a mix of Granny Smith and Macintosh.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until caramel is dark amber. Immediately remove from heat, and slowly add cream, salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool.
Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
**Bakers Note – When I made the caramel I doubled the recipe and used the leftover to drizzle caramel over the cupcakes. You will still have some leftover which is great on ice cream!