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.
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. =)
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.