Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Jean jackets, sweaters, crockpotting, football, foilage, haunted houses, anything pumpkin (see previous post). You can now add these little devils to my long list of reasons why fall is my favorite season.

Ever since I made the Snicker's cupcakes, I had been wanting to make the caramel buttercream frosting again. This frosting is so addicting, both times I've made it I've ended up eating WAY to much frosting straight out of the bowl. It is that good.

I got the idea to make a caramel apple cupcake and went on the hunt for an apple cake recipe. I didn't have to look to far, as Every Day with Rachael Ray had one this month (theirs called for the caramel drizzled straight on top, which I'm sure would have been amazing as well).

I had so much fun making these and especially decorating them - I think they turned out so cute! I coated the apple slices in lemon juice and they actually held up and didn't brown or shrivel for about 24 hours, so this would work well if you were making them for a party ahead of time.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes


adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 apples (about 1 pound), peeled and shredded- I used Golden Delicious, you can really use whatever your preference is + 1 extra apple if you are going to garnish (with slices coated in lemon juice)

Preheat to 350° and line 2 cupcake pans with baking liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined; stir in the apples. Spoon the batter into the pans until almost full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Caramel Sauce & Frosting

adapted from Annie's Eat's

Caramel Sauce:

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

To make the caramel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to foam a bit. It will look and smell like it’s on the verge of burning. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream. Stir until the sauce is smooth (you may need to return it to the heat to smooth it out), then mix in the vanilla and salt. Let cool.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tbsp. heavy cream

To make the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed 1 minute until smooth. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla, caramel sauce and salt until incorporated. (Note: the caramel sauce should be just warm enough that it is workable, but not warm enough to melt the butter in the frosting.) Add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Decorate the cupcakes as you'd like, I piped the caramel butter cream, added the apple slices and drizzled the rest of the caramel sauce over.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto - Take 2

Hello readers! I'm back from another blogging drought, sorry about that! Had another trip to London for work, and then a mini-vacation with Joe to go visit my sister in Houston, and a couple of nights at a golf/spa resort in San Antonio to celebrate our 2 year anniversary!

As much fun as I had in Texas, I was SO EXCITED to come home today. Besides a 5 hour stop in Chicago on Friday between London and TX, it feels like I haven't been home in forever. I can't wait to stay put for the next two weekends (besides a quick drive up to Milwaukee this Saturday for our friends' 30th bday party - but after all that Milwaukee is nothing!).

One of the reasons I'm looking forward to staying at home is to do some fall baking with the cans of pumpkin I've been stockpiling in fear of another shortage! Now, while I haven't done any baking yet - I did recreate the pumpkin risotto I made this time last year. I'm sharing it with you again because 1) I have more followers than I did this time last year 2) I've gotten better at taking photos, and this dish deserves a better picture - and - 3) It's just that good!

I did mix up the format a bit from when I made it previously, mainly by omitting the shrimp (just didn't feel like it) and switching from pancetta to bacon (just because that's what I had on hand). I also started the dish with the bacon and left it in while cooking, rather than adding it crispy at the end. I think this really added to the depth of the flavor and helped balance the sweetness from the pumpkin and the spices.

This is a fabulous, rich and hearty fall recipe!

Pumpkin Risotto

1 cup arrabrio rice
olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 strips bacon (chopped)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in heavy bottomed pan and saute the onion and garlic about 5 - 10 minutes over medium heat with salt and pepper to season. Add the bacon and allow to cook until slightly browned.
Add the rice, cinnamon and cloves and allow rice to brown slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine and let simmer until all the liquid is gone. Then add one cup of the chicken stock, one cup at a time, cooking until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup (about 30 - 40 minutes total). Once the last cup of stock is almost absorbed, add the pumpkin and cheese and mix to combine.