Continuing in the spirit of Autumn, we came up with the idea to make Caramel Apple Cupcakes. It’s a green apple cake, filled with green apple curd and topped with salted caramel buttercream, scratch-made caramel sauce and chopped peanuts. I can admit that this cupcake is not my favorite, but I think it’s pretty good considering everything I did to make it finally work as well as it did.
My flavor inspiration came from Jones Green Apple Soda – it has that perfect tart green apple flavor, so I wanted to try to mimic that in my cake. At first I attempted just a normal recipe for a soda cake – all of my dry ingredients mixed with a proper ratio of the soda. No eggs, no buttermilk, no vanilla; just soda. Well the batter had the perfect consistency, but when they baked they expanded WAY too much and, of course, fell. So I decided to try again by turning the green apple soda into a syrup and just use that as a flavoring in lieu of vanilla. But, as it turns out, when you cook green apple soda with sugar, all you get is a very sweet syrup that tastes nothing like apples. So then I came across the idea of de-carbonating the soda before adding it to my normal recipe. I measured the soda into a glass, covered it and shook it, to flatten the soda. Now I had green apple flavor without all the lift. So i brought my eggs and buttermilk back into the recipe, and baked a small batch. They came out perfect – dense and velvety with a nice crown. Bueno. However, the buttermilk flavor seemed to overpower the apple…but there was a hint of apple…a very subtle hint.
So I decided to make an apple curd for the filling, which I think worked really well, flavor-wise. Notice for future reference. Don’t use applesauce as a base for apple curd. It thickens, but never gels. That was kind of disappointing, but I didn’t have time to peel, core, dice, cook, and smash apples, and THEN make curd. I cut corners and it shows 😦 I’ll do it the right way next time lol. The apple curd added just the right amount of tart apple flavor to the cupcake, so they subtle flavor of the cupcake alone was no longer an issue.
I topped the cupcake with our salted caramel buttercream, scratch-made caramel sauce and chopped salted peanuts. While it’s not my favorite cupcake, there’s no denying that it tastes just like a caramel apple. So I’ll put this under the “success” column 😉 However if I had to do it over again, I’d make the curd with apples instead of applesauce, and I’d probably go with unsalted peanuts for the garnish.