Friday, October 23, 2009

Apple Cider Cupcakes

Ah. Fall. How I love thee.

This time it's tasty Apple Cider Cupcakes with a delectable spicy cream cheese glaze and apple cutout. My friend Kristy sent me this recipe a year ago and I made it then, before I really jumped on the cupcake bandwagon. They were SO delicious and I remembered them a year later just as I saw the apple cider hitting the supermarket aisles.

I did do a little research on some other apple cider cupcake recipes posted online, and I modified the original slightly and was very please with the results. There's really nothing better, in my opinion, than having a spicy cupcake loaded with chunks of juicy apples. I also liked having the apple cider reduction ready to go for the cupcakes as well as the frosting. It really intensified the flavor. I actually used Trader Joe's "spicy cider" which already has a lot of flavor in it.

  • 2 eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup apple cider**
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 -1 granny smith apple, cored, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease or line 12-16 cupcake wells. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Combine the baking powder, cinnamon and salt to the flour and add to the butter mixture alternately with the apple cider until thoroughly combined. Mix in apple chunks. Pour into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Bake 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

Cider Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup apple cider

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened but still cool

  • 1 - 2 cups powdered sugar

  • a pinch of salt

Put the apple cider in a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil until the cider is reduced to about 2 tablespoons (it will be slightly syrupy). Set aside to cool completely.

With an electric mixer, beat together cooled reduced cider, cream cheese, pinch of salt, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Add enough additional powdered sugar for desired frosting texture.

* I learned a neato trick with room temperature eggs. If I don't have enough time ahead to get them to room temperature, you can place your refrigerated eggs into a small glass of warm water for about 30 seconds-minute to bring them to room temperature. The science of eggs is that cold eggs separate more easily, and room temperature eggs will fluff and incorporate air more easily than cold ones which is good for a lighter cupcake.

** I read a recipe online that suggested using 2-3 cups of cider and boiling it down to the approximately 1 cup you'd need for the the cupcakes. If you have enough time ahead, I recommend it because it really packs in a whole lot more flavor. And you can just make enough for the frosting at the same time while you're at it.

My little added touch was the apple cutout on top. I took a granny smith and used a handy little apple shaped cookie cutter that happened to be the right size, and was able to pop out the shapes from the apple slices. I actually just used the remnants of that apple as the chunks in the cake, which worked out to be about half an apple's worth. I recommend peeling the apple before hand though, something I didn't do.

While I made the cupcakes, I let the apple shapes rest in a bowl of water with a splash of lemon in it to keep them from browning. When the cupcakes were done and cooling, I pan fried the slices with a touch of butter and cinnamon and let them go until they were slightly browned, but not mushy. I did lose a couple in the process, so it's best to have a couple more than you think you'll need.

When the cupcakes were cooled, I made the frosting. It was pretty runny because I was trying to pack in a lot of flavor with the cider syrup, but it was good. I frosted and then placed a nicely browned apple slice on the tops of each of them. Make sure your apple slices have had a chance to cool though, because they will slide around on the cream cheese frosting and melt it if they're not.

A delightfully rich, tangy treat. Enjoy!

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