I might be truly obsessed with fall. I love everything about it. As my roommate starts moping about the house sad that summer is ending, I finally feel like my batteries are recharging. I start day dreaming about the endless possibilities of craft projects to be made. I moved my rain boots and jackets front and center in my closet and gleam with joy as I get all my fall decor out. Today has been the first day that really feels like fall and I felt the urge to throw on my rain boots head to the local market and get some apples to bake. If you love fall as much as I do, this is the perfect recipe to get you in the autumn spirit. Delicious spiced apple cupcakes, with a cheesecake center, elegantly topped with a rose made from apples.
Step 1: Ingredients & Supply List
Spiced Apple Cupcake Ingredients List
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, mounded
1 sprinkle nutmeg (optional)
1 sprinkle clove (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk, at room temperature
3 cups shredded apples, liquid squeezed out
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
Cheesecake Center Ingredients List
1 package of cream cheese (8oz), at room temperature
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Apple Rose Ingredients List
5-6 medium apples, halved, cored and sliced thin
1 container (64oz) cranberry juice
1/4 cup sugar
Other Supplies List
24 cupcake paper liners (you can also use butter if you prefer)
Dry and wet measuring utensils
2 mixing bowls
Mixing spoons or electric mixer
Optional parchment or wax paper
Pie crust leaves
Step 2: Apple Rose Prep
Add the sugar and the cranberry juice into a large pot and set aside.
Select at least 5 medium apples. I used 2 Gala, 2 Fuji, and 1 mystery apple simply because it was a gorgeous red color. Cut the apples in half (as if you were going to slice it up for a snack) and remove the core. Place the apple flat side down and thinly slice the apple all the way across. Add the slices to the pot at the end of each apple half to help prevent browning of the flesh. Once all the apples have been sliced place the pot on the stove and cook on medium heat until the slices are pliable. Caution: Be careful not to overcook the apples to where they turn to mush. Move onto Step Four: Spices Apple Cupcake Mix, while the apple slices are heating up and cooking.
*Optional-You can also use an apple core/peel/slicer. You will want to disengage the part that removes the skin since you want it intact. I personally prefer to hand slice because you can make the slices thinner making them easier to work with. However, the core/peel/slicer is great if you are in a time crunch.
*Optional- I have never owned one, but I would imagine a mandolin slicer could also make quick and consistent slices.
Step 3: Spiced Apple Cupcake Mix
Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl, lightly mix and set aside:
*Optional- Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to make the cupcakes less dense and more fluffy.
Select at least four apples, wash and remove stickers. I used 3 Gala and 1 Fuji. You can peel all or none of the apples before grating. I choose to peel only half of the apples. Grate the apples on the large grater until you reach the core. Squeeze the juice out of the apple gratings and set aside. I squeezed the juice into the pot of apple slices still cooking on the stove. The gratings may turn brown before adding in the batter, but it is nothing to worry about.
Don't forget to keep checking on the cooking apple slices. Once pliable but not soggy, skip to Step Five: Apple Rose Prep Continued and then return to complete Step Four: Spice Apple Cupcake Mix, if necessary.
In a separate bowl stir the butter, making sure it is soft and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and the granulated and brown sugar. Mix until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time while continuing to mix. Once the ingredients appear consistently throughout, add the buttermilk, stirring slowly at first so it doesn't slosh out of the bowl. It will mix in quickly but will make the mix look gritty.
Add the bowl of mixed dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Stir until the mix is uniformly moist.
Add the shredded apples and fold into the batter until dispersed evenly in the mix. Set aside for the time being.
Step 4: Apple Rose Prep Continued
Once the apples are pliable but not soggy (ideally you should be able to have the apple touch ends without snapping in half) strain them from the cranberry mix so that they can cool. I like to stain over another pot so that I can keep the cran-apple juice for later.
Return to Step Four: Spiced Apple Cupcake Mix if it was not completed, and then move on to Step Six: Cheesecake Center Mix.
Step 5: Cheesecake Center Mix
Place the cream cheese in a bowl. (I used the one I had previously had the dry ingredients in to save on dishes.) It is important that it is about room temperature and soft or it will be difficult to mix. Add the sugar, vanilla and sour cream. Mix until smooth in appearance.
Step 6: Assembling the Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners in the cupcake tray. Spoon fill the liners
1/2 to 2/3 full with the spiced apple cupcake batter. With your finger or a small spoon, put a divot in the middle of the batter. Take a small spoonful of the cheesecake mix and place in the divot and lightly smear around, being careful not to spread all the way to the edge.
*Option- In lieu of liners, you can butter or Crisco the cupcake moulding and lightly flour.
Step 7: Apple Rose Completion
On a clean counter top, cutting board or piece of parchment paper, lay a row of apple slices overlapping one another, starting on the left and working to the right. You will want about 7 or eight slices for each row. The more slices, the fuller the rose will be but harder to roll. I find it best to use one or two of the smaller end apple slices at the beginning left hand side of the row and the larger middle slices as the row progresses to the right.
Once you have a row laid out, start rolling from the left hand side. The overlapping of the slices should make it roll continuously.
Once you get to the end of the line, carefully pick it up and place in the center of the cupcake mix and gently press into place. It just barely needs pressed into the mix as it will puff up around the slices as it cooks and the cupcake tray will help it hold its form. If your rose is very tight, you can use your fingers to unfurl the apple slice petals.
*Tip: I find it easiest to roll with my index fingers and thumbs while using my middle fingers to keep the rolled slices from squishing out the top and bottom as the roll progresses
Step 8: Bake
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Bake the cupcakes in the center rack for 20-25 minutes. You can use a tooth pick trick to double check that they are done. Due to the cheesecake on the top I would suggest sticking the toothpick in diagonally from the edge through the center. If the tooth pick comes out clean and not covered in batter the cupcakes are done. Let the cupcakes cool once removed from the oven.
Step 9: Enjoy!
These are great with caramel sauce or served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. For a fun embellishments you can use your favorite pie crust to mold leaves. I hope that you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I have. Bon Appétit!