"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I have a bit of an obsession with cookbooks, mostly baking and cake decorating ones. I can't stop buying them.  They are so fun to read and great inspiration for my baking addiction.

 The newest to add to my ever growing collection is The Cupcake Diaries by Katherine and Sophie from the TLC hit show DC Cupcakes.  It is a great read and contains beautiful pictures.  I love their story and how they had the courage to follow their passion and open up a bakery.  I often dream of doing the same thing with my sister, but fear plays a rather very paralzying factor.
Since I still have an abundance of apples at the moment I took the opportunity to make these amazing cupcakes for my grandmothers 91st birthday.

A lot of really great recipes in here that I can't wait to try

The recipe calls for fresh grated apple.  Then the baked cupcakes get filled with caramel sauce and topped with a cream cheese icing. oooooooohhhhh my!  I think I did pretty good with their signature swirl. A step by step instruction of how they ice their cupcakes is in the book. I used a large round open tip by Ateco to achieve this swirl here.

look at that caramel ...

have you ever seen such a pretty birthday candle? It sings happy birthday while spinning slowly in a circle.

enjoying her cupcake

91 years!! Happy birthday Nonna!!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes by Georgetown Cupcake
  • Cupcakes
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (European style recommended)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup hot water
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly grated apples (4 to 5 medium-size apples, we use Gala apples, but you can use your favorite type)
  • Vanilla cream cheese frosting
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (European style recommended)
  • 4 cups confectioners
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey pure Madagascar bourbon recommended)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Caramel
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (European style recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey pure Madagascar bourbon recommended)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard cupcake pan with paper baking cups. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly on medium speed, after each addition. It's important to add them one at a time so that they will completely incorporate into the batter and you don't put too much weight on your batter at once. 
Reduce the speed to low. At this stage, it's always important to mix as slowly and as little as necessary since you don't want to over mix your batter. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add 1/3 of the hot water, beating until well incorporated. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by 1/3 of the hot water. It's important to add the flour and water little by little like this, so that your batter does not have too much weight thrown on it and that you allow each amount of flour and water to completely mix into the batter. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining hot water, and beat just until combined.
Using a spatula, fold the grated apple into the batter.  Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each baking cup with batter, so the cups are 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. After 5 minutes, transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely for approximately 20 minutes.
It's always best to cool the cupcakes at room temperature. Putting them in the refrigerator to cool can dry out the cake.
For the vanilla cream cheese frosting: Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until well combined. Be sure to beat on high speed at the very end for at least 2 minutes to ensure that the frosting is light and fluffy.
For the caramel: Pour the sugar and water into a large saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sugar completely liquefies. Stir constantly and be careful not to burn the sugar. After all the sugar has dissolved, add the butter and vanilla extract to the saucepan and mix thoroughly. Once the butter has melted and the butter and sugar are completely mixed, remove from heat and, using a whisk, slowly whisk in the heavy cream until you reach a beautiful golden brown caramel color. Set aside and let cool and thicken for 5 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to thicken further before you use to fill or decorate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apple Carrot Muffins

Here is another fantastic recipe from The Essentials of Baking cookbook I mentioned in my last post.  I'm really enjoying this book , there are so many recipes I can't wait to try.

These muffins were a great way to use up our abundance of apples this time of year.  Along with grated apples it calls for grated carrot and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top. 

Mix  the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with the grated apple and carrot. NEVER over mix your batter! or your muffins will be tough and dense

cinnamon sugar

Try baking them today! you know you want to!Here is the recipe

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall = Apple pie...always

To state that my father has a green thumb would be the understatment of the century.  He has managed to grow a garden, full of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, peppers, chilies, parsley, basil, the kitchen sink.. every single year since I can remember.  Along with growing vegetables my dad has a slight obsession with fruit trees. 

At one time we had a cherry, pear, peach, prune and of course 3 apple trees! They were beautiful, expertly pruned by him and produced the best fruit I've ever had.  Sadly, over the years, many of these beautiful trees had their day in the sun, but the mighty apple still remains.  

Every fall means bushels of apples which we use to make apple sauce, apple crisp and of course apple pie.  I used the recipe from Williams-Sonoma's, The Essentials of Baking cookbook.  If you love baking then you need this book in your life.

I made the double crust recipe for the dough. Click here for the recipe on their website.

You know you're baking something great when this much butter is involved 

Mixing the dry ingredients together before cutting in the butter
I decided to make the dough by hand. This pastry cutter is great, also from Williams-Sonoma
Visible chunks of butter means you've done it right
 For the crust you add very cold, unsalted butter to the dry ingredients and cut the butter into the flour. You can use a pastry cutter like I did here and do it by hand or throw it in the food processor and pulse it, not too finely, you want to see chunks of butter.  Then add in ice water until the mix just comes together to form a ball of dough.  Then cut the ball of dough in half and form into two dics. 

This apple slicer makes getting the job done so much quicker
I picked up this pie crust cutter from Home Outfitters. IN LOVE!

I will never make another apple pie without these two gadgets again.  The apple slicer is from, of course where else? Williams-Sonoma!  It cores and cuts the apples.  You can choose how thick or thin you want your apple slices from two different settings. I have pictured here the thinest setting.

I brushed the top of the pie with a little milk and sprinkled on sugar before putting into the oven to bake.

The pie was excellent and nothing makes your kitchen smell more welcoming and cosy :)

Happy Fall!