Thursday, September 14, 2006

One of my favorite things about fall is caramel apples. The mere sight of them makes me happy, not to mention the lovely way the sweet caramel compliments the apple-y tartness.

And of course we know that today is Friday which means...

So it was perfectly logical that I began hunting around for a caramel apple cupcake recipe.

There are aquite a few out there, from the gourmet to the practically already made when you buy them. I opted for a happy medium. I was inspired by a recipe for these treats from the goddess of all things cupcake, Chockylit. Since I knew I would be making these at night, after work AND after having made dinner, I didn't want anything TOO involved so I devised a plan to cheat. I went to the supermarket in search of spice cake mix and when I couldn't find one I decided to use a carrot cake mix. Instead of using water in the cake recipe, I used apple cider. And instead of making my own caramel, I melted down some store bought caramels with a little milk and used that. I did keep Chockylit's recipe for the cream cheese filling because it was easy enough, and also PERFECT.

So here we have it.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes.

1 package carrot cake mix
apple cider

2 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples.

Preheat oven to 325

Prepare cake mix as follows but subsitute an equal amount of apple cider for the water. Fold in choppped apples and blend. Pour batter into LARGE 6-muffin tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or use large baking cups).

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

While cupcakes are cooling prepare cream cheese filling

1/4 c cream cheese
1/4 c butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Make sure cream cheese and butter are at room temperature and cream them in mixer until smooth. Slowly add sugar and vanilla and blend.

When the cupcakes are completely cooled (I put them in the freezer for a few minutesto speed things along), you want to remove the center section by cutting in a little circle on the top of the cupcake. Remove a small cone shaped piece and spoon some of the cream cheese frosting in until almost full

And replace top when finished.

When all cupcakes are done, set aside and begin on caramel topping. It's important that you have the cupcakes completely ready to be frosted when you take the caramel off the stove because it will harden up within minutes, making it really difficult to spread.

Caramel Topping

20 caramels (I used Brachs, they even come with popsicle sticks this time of year for making actual caramel apples. )
2 1/2 tbsp milk.

Combine and cook over low heat until melted and smooth. At this point it is important to work quickly, and to ensure that the cupcakes don't become too drippy. Using a butter knife, spread some of the caramel over the top of each cupcake, coating evenly, and place in fridge or freezer immediately. When you are done, you may remove them from the freezer or fridge and they won't drip since the caramel will have stiffened.

Place popsicle stick in the middle and voila!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes!

Aren't they adorable?

A nice autumn cupcake.

The batter is enough to make six large cupcakes with enough left over to make 12 mini cupcakes. You can break that down other ways too, I am sure you could just make 12 medium sized cupcakes out of this batter too. I like the bigger ones because they hold up to the cutting of the middle better. I plan on wrapping up a few in celophane and tying it up with a festive ribbon to give out to my parents & brother when I see them this weekend.

Either way they are really cute, and REALLY delicious.

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