Introduction: "Coming Home" Cupcake

Picture of "Coming Home" Cupcake

As a military family, we understand first hand the sacrafices soldiers and families are asked to make for our country.  I wanted to create a cupcake for the contest that honored those now serving and provided a way to uniquely celebrate Independence Day!  When my husband was in Iraq one of the things he missed was plain old American apple pie.  So, I combined the two ideas and came up with the Coming Home Apple Pie Cupcake.  This cupcake is made with real apples and rivals Grandma's Apple Pie.  The secret ingredient (yes, I shared it) kicks up the apples and makes the whole thing pop.  I topped it with a basic buttercream frosting and a candied lemon peel yellow ribbon to remember the soldiers now overseas and hope that they soon return.

Step 1:

Cupcakes
2 Cups Cake Flour
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
2 large Granny Smith Apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Cup Butter
4 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 3/4 teaspoon Maple Extract (secret ingredient)
1 1/3 Cup Sugar

 Buttercream Frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
 
Garnish
Sugar
Lemon


Step 2:

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Preheat oven to 350.
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Set out the butter and eggs to soften for about 30 minutes. 
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In the meantime, peel and core the two apples.  Slice the apples.  I used a food processor with a slice blade.  In a nonstick pan, put the apple slices, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of the sugar.  When bubbly add in the 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch.  Cook until thickened and the apples are tender.  The whole thing takes about 6 minutes.
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While the apples are cooling, coat a cupcake pan with a nonstick spray, butter or use paper liners.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, Apple Pie Spice, and salt.  Set Aside.
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In another large bowl beat the 1/2 cup of butter until fluffly (about 30 seconds).  Add the vanilla and maple extracts, beat well.  Add a 1/2 cup of sugar; beat well.  Then add the last 1/3 cup of sugar, beat well.  Add each of the four eggs, beating for one minute in between each addition.  Now add your cooled apple mixture and beat until combined. 
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Step 3:

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Now begin adding the flour mixture to the apple mixture in thirds, beating until combined after each.  Drop batter by the heaping spoon into the cupcake tins til they are two thirds full. 
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Put into the oven until the tops spring back slowly to your touch.  Be sure to check them often when in the done "zone" of 18-22 minutes.

Step 4: Yellow Ribbons

Picture of Yellow Ribbons

For the garnish, it was very helpful to put the lemon onto an apple peeler/corer as pictured.  This gave me a long ribbon of lemon peel that I cut into sections for each ribbon.
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Step 5:

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Cut the ribbons into appropriate sized pieces then coat in sugar. 
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Heat a skillet on medium high.  Add the sugared peels to the skillet, cooking until sugar is dissolved and no longer visible, turning once.  Transfer the peels to aluminum foil and coat again in sugar.  This is your final ribbon product.  It is helpful to "glue" the ribbon together with a very small amount of buttercream frosting to form the classic "yellow ribbon" symbol.
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Let these dry out and harden a little.

Step 6: Buttercream Frosting

Picture of Buttercream Frosting

Allow a 1/2 cup of butter to soften for 30 minutes.
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Beat together the 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening.
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Add two cups of powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating thoroughly after each cup.
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Add two Tablespoons of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla.
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Add another cup of powdered sugar, beat thoroughly.
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Add the final 2 Tablespoons of milk, beat.
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Add the final cup of powdered sugar, beat.

Step 7: Final Touches

Picture of Final Touches

It's easiest to put the frosting into a bag or decorator's gun and pipe it onto the cupcakes.  Top with a candied ribbon and you're done! 

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