Here's the perfect treat to serve at your Independence Day festivities: Apple Pie Cupcakes. It's apple pie a la mode, re-imagined. Picture it: you're sitting on your back porch watching the fireworks, sweet iced tea in one hand and an apple pie cupcake in the other. Plush vanilla cake, gently spiced apple filling, and a luxurious brown sugar buttercream make for a very nice snack indeed.
This recipe will be a part of the All Through the Year Cheer : Fourth of July event hosted by Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny and Faith of An Edible Mosaic. Be sure to check out the ATTYC site for more details and to see the recipe round-up. There's bound to be an excellent collection of recipes celebrating the Red, White, and Blue!
Apple Pie Cupcakes (makes about 30)
Cake portion adapted from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America
4 Granny Smith apples
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp. apple pie spice
1 Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. flour
3½ cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tbl. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, diced & at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, divided
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Brown Sugar SMBC (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place paper liners into 30 wells of three muffin tins.
Prepare apple filling:
Peel and finely dice the apples; you should have around 4 cups of diced apple. Place apples in a large skillet. Add sugar, apple pie spice, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples are soft and have released their liquid (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle flour over apple mixture. Stir well and continue to cook over medium-low heat for another 3-4 minutes until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while preparing cupcakes.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add butter and ½ cup milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, remaining ½ cup milk and vanilla extract until combined. Add to the batter in 3 additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium after each addition. Scrape down the bowl between additions.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in the center. Cool completely on wire racks.
Using a small paring knife, carefully cut a cone from the center of each cupcake. Remove cone tops and reserve for another use (such as: quieting the kids, hubby, dog, etc.) Fill cupcakes with a spoonful of apple filling and with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1⅓ cups packed dark brown sugar
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
Place the egg whites and brown sugar in a heatproof bowl; whisk to combine. Place bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water (double boiler set-up). Heat egg white mixture to 160°F, whisking constantly. The mixture will become thin and foamy as you approach 160°F.
Pour the heated egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add a pinch of salt. Beat on high speed with the whisk attachment for 7-9 minutes, until stiff peaks form and mixture has cooled. The mixture MUST be cooled to room temperature before proceeding.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer running at medium speed, add the butter, 2 Tablespoons at a time. Allow the butter to incorporate before adding more. As you add butter, the appearance of the mixture will go from a fluffy meringue to a thin, cake batter-like consistency. Once all the butter has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and beat until an emulsion forms and the mixture has transformed into a thick & smooth icing. (How long this will take depends on the starting temperature of both the egg white mixture and the butter pieces, so be patient. Pay attention as the mixture is whipping--you'll hear a definite difference in sound when the buttercream is ready.) Add vanilla extract and beat on low speed for a minute or two to incorporate and to reduce any air bubbles.