The first baked treat I endeavored to make from scratch was an apple pie. Best to start with something simple, right?
The list of treats that’ve been adapted to fit the apple pie flavor profile is practically endless: cheesecake, ice cream, muffins, dip, blondies, pancakes, pop tarts, smoothies, granola bars, cookies, macarons, tiramisu, parfaits, scones, and the list goes on. (I feel a little bit like Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump, reciting off his beloved shrimp dishes.)
As you know, I’ve been really fascinated with the notion of filling the cupcakes with various flavors and textures. I’ve tried curd, plain ol’ frosting, dulce de leche, pie filling, and mousse, to name a few, and I’ve found varying degrees of success with each. So, inspired as I was by the classic apple pie, I knew apple pie filling would have to be involved in my batch of cupcakes. I chose snickerdoodle cupcakes as the base, because let’s be honest--apple pie would be nothing without cinnamon. To top things off, I opted for a caramel buttercream. Although regular apple pie is perfectly delicious, it’s helped immensely by the simple addition of caramel.
To be frank, these cupcakes are the best I’ve ever made. The cupcake itself is superb, with the lovely aroma of cinnamon hitting, nay, caressing you before you even take your first bite. The slightly toothsome and gooey apple pie filling squishes into your mouth in the nicest way possible, offering a slightly tart contrast to the super-sweet and creamy frosting. All in all, it’s a magnificent experience. What’s more, while an apple pie takes several hours to make from start to finish, these cupcakes can be melting in your mouth in just a couple of hours.
Caramel. Apple. Pie. Cupcakes.
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (8 medium)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1-1/2 cups butter, room temperature
- 1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup dulce de leche
First, make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and set aside. Pour water into a pot over medium heat. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples and return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes, then roughly chop the apples into small pieces.
Next, make the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
Finally, make the frosting: With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and dulce de leche, and beat until frosting is smooth.
To assemble cupcakes, carve out a small cone-shaped section from each cupcake. (Don’t you dare throw the scraps away; eat them immediately.) Place a tablespoon or two of filling into the hole and top with the luscious frosting. Sprinkle the top of each frosted cupcake with a mixture of cinnamon sugar.