Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Brie Frosting

UPDATE: Iron Cupcake voting is now open HERE through Friday, December 4 at noon. Please go check out all the wonderful apple cupcake creations and vote for your 3 favorites!

2009.11.22 Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Brie Frosting (Iron Cupcake)

Most days during the fall, I love nothing better than to bite into the sweet, crisp flavor of a fresh apple. We've all heard the old adage: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." As it turns out, apples are quite full of heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, and flavonoids (WHFoods). In Norse mythology there was even a magic apple said to bestow eternal youth. Now I wouldn't bet on that last bit. But I can at least pat myself on the back whenever I enjoy my daily snack. With such a love of the fruit and new found appreciation for its benefits, I was excited (though not really surprised) to hear that the November Iron Cupcake challenge ingredient was apple.

Pairing apples with sweet, warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves just feels right for fall. Like diving into a big pile of leaves feels right...or putting on your favorite mittens. I used an apple-carrot cake as my point of departure. The carrots in the original were quickly replaced by more grated apples to maintain the purest apple flavor and out-of-this-world moistness. Throw in a few grinds of fresh black pepper and my base was complete.

2009.11.22 Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Brie Frosting (Iron Cupcake) [Collage]

Now came the subtle twist: brie and cream cheese frosting. Odd-sounding at first, this pairing really isn't surprising when you consider all the fruit and cheese appetizers we enjoy. I actually added about half the brie specified in the recipe below. Its flavor was barely distinguishable but added that "something special" that made people take notice. In fact this creation produced one of the nicest compliments I've ever received for my baking: a friend told me the day after eating one that she couldn't get it out of her mind.

I loves me some brie though, so I'll up the amount next time. Has anyone else tried frostings made with unconventional cheeses (not cream cheese or mascarpone)? I'd love to hear about them. =)

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Brie Frosting (Iron Cupcake)

Voting for Iron Cupcake will begin at this site no later than Friday, November 27th at 8 p.m. and will be open through Thursday, December 3 at 12 noon. And please show some love to our generous IronCupcake:Earth prize providers by visiting their sites!

The Demy™ by Key Ingredient
Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Bella Cupcake Couture
Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Brie Frosting
[Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Sunset Magazine
Makes 12 to 15 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I found that I could grate the apples with the skin on using my box grater. The McIntosh apples I used became quite juicy and mushy when I grated them, so I drained off some of the excess juice before using. This amount of brie resulted in a fairly mild-flavored frosting that still tasted much like regular cream cheese frosting. If you want a stronger brie flavor, you should be able to increase the ratio of brie to cream cheese up to 1:1 with good results.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple juice concentrate, defrosted (optional, increase oil to 1/2 cup if not using)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 generous cup packed coarsely grated tart apples (about 2 medium-large)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
Brie and Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners and set aside. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, pepper, and salt together into a large bowl. Whisk to ensure they are combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the oil, apple juice concentrate, vanilla, and eggs. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until almost combined. Stir the apples and walnuts into the batter.

Divide batter among cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out mostly clean, about 16 to 20 minutes. Let cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer them to wire racks and let cool completely before frosting. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Brie and Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese (low-fat is fine), cool room temperature
4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) brie, softened and with rind removed
1/4 cup (2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered (confectioner's) sugar

In a large bowl beat the brie, cream cheese, and butter until softened and smooth (but do not overbeat). On low speed beat in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Start with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and add more to achieve desired sweetness and stiffness. Finally, beat on high speed for a few moments until smooth.


  1. I will definitely be trying this brie and cream cheese frosting! It is SO original and includes my favorite frosting AND my favorite cheese. I really don't think you can go wrong there.

    I have never ventured outside of the cream cheese/mascarpone frosting realm but I would be interested to see what other people have done.

    Great recipe and good luck with the competition!

  2. Very original! Nice touch with the black pepper and brie :) I'm intrigued and want to try one!

  3. brie frosting, omg you just made me go wild... FABULOUS IDEA! oh i know i will just love these, brilliant idea!

    thanks for letting me know about fws, your pics are in my cache so it takes me a long time to know if anything is missing!

  4. Looks great - love the brie frosting, definitely want to try that! :)


  5. How interesting! And SO creative! I've never thought to use anything other than cream cheese and mascarpone! This is defintely on my to do list! =)

  6. I LOVE brie with apples!!! The idea of using it in a frosting is superb! I cant wait to give this a go!! Beautiful photos too.

  7. Oh wow - brie frosting! What a great idea - I love soft cheeses :D

    Good luck in the comp :)

  8. Thanks, you all! I'm relieved this turned out well and not weird 8).

  9. Great job with your cucpakes! they look delicious :)

  10. Your cupcakes and photos look fabulous. I always made my cupcakes with buttercream frosting, maybe it is time to try out the cream cheese frosting. Thanks for sharing!


  11. Brie frosting. How interesting! I like!

  12. This sounds like a fabulous, unique combination. I have never tried a brie frosting, but I sure would love to bite into it right now. Great idea!

  13. Genius!! I was reading your post and wondering why you had pepper in the batter then I saw the frosting and it all clicked. Love the idea!

  14. I really appreciate all the support!

    Trissa - the black pepper doesn't stand out much plus I really like a little extra kick in my spiced cakes.

  15. I've tried a gouda frosting before. I was terrified of it, so I only used a tiny bit melted with some heavy cream and mixed it into a basic buttercream recipe. It wasn't too bad (you could barely taste it), but needed some tweaking. I'll definitely have to try brie frosting out too!

  16. Gouda, eh? You're even more adventurous :). I had the same issue with adding too little for the taste to really come out. Please let me know if you like it!

  17. Wow, this is so cool! I never would have thought of putting brie in a frosting, but it actually sounds really delicious with apple cupcakes! Yum. I will have to give it a try!

  18. Brie in cupcake frosting is BOLD. I love it! What a great combination of flavors you have here. Such pretty photos too :)

  19. These cupcakes look absolutely fabulous, as does your blog. So glad I happened upon it today - you have a new reader! :)

  20. omg, I love cupcakes and these look great, I sure need to try them...:)

  21. What??? Brie frosting?? That is brilliant.

  22. I want to make and eat each and everyone one of your cupcake creations. Dear god. Brie frosting? Are you joking me? Could you get any better?

  23. I have been looking for a recipe using apples and brie for several hrs now and am releived to finally find something besides a base of phyllo dough! Thanks so much, I am going to go get some cupcake liners so I can make these today!

  24. Thanks for leaving a comment! I hope you like the cupcakes. As I mention above, the brie frosting is pretty subtle, so you may want to increase the amount of brie if you want the flavor to stand out. Happy New Year!

  25. I just made these cupcakes this afternoon and they were a HIT! So yummy! We will definitely be making the again!

  26. Thanks, Terra! I'm so glad you guys liked these =D.

  27. Btw, being in Texas...we use PECANS all the time! So, I added those in the place of the walnuts! Loved em!


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu