Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Applesauce Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Have you ever gotten those plastic tubs full of caramel that they sell in the grocery story by the apples?  The "Caramel Apple Dip."
That's the type of thing that I would pick up and I would eat the entire container of caramel spread out over a single apple.  Every teeny tiny bite of apple was literally dripping with caramel.  In my mind, it was a pretty healthy little snack.  It has an apple in it!  What's healthier than an apple?

These cupcakes are basically that after school snack in an even less healthy form.
Plus, the caramel is salted so you won't get that itchy tooth thing from it being so sweet.  (Oh, is that just something that happens to my family?  Must be genetic.)

Caramel and apple and spices and sweet and salty.  It's all good stuff.

For the Cupcakes:
1/3 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
3/4 applesauce
For the Salted Caramel Frosting:
1 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 c. whipping cream
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2-3 c. powdered sugar

1.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.

2.  Sift together dry ingredients then slowly add to butter mixture.  Stir in applesauce until the cupcake batter reaches a smooth consistency.

3.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill two thirds full.

4.  Bake at 350˚ for 22-25 minutes or until the centers are set.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.

5.  While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the salted caramel: In a large saucepan, mix together sugar, water and corn syrup over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

6.  Cover the saucepan and let the caramel cook for 3 minutes (do not touch or stir).

7.  Remove the lid and turn the heat on medium-high.  Bring to a boil.  Rather than stirring, swirl the caramel around the pan until it turns an even amber color.  Remove from heat and let sit for 30 seconds.

8.  Stir in the cream (be careful! The caramel can bubble up a lot here.)  Stir the butter, lemon juice and salt into the caramel then let sit until it has cooled significantly (the caramel will be warm to the touch).

9.  Remove about 1/2 c. of the salted caramel (store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator to serve on top of ice cream, as a dip for apples, etc.)

10.  Prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Gradually and slowly, stir in powdered sugar until thick.  Add in the 1/2 c. of reserved salted caramel.  Add more powdered sugar if necessary to get the desired consistency.

11.  Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost them and store leftovers in an airtight container.

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