I suck at Minecraft. I cannot get my character to walk straight with his head facing the same direction. I make an effort to play with the kids whenever I can. However, when it comes to video games through a first person perspective, I have the hand-eye coordination as a one-year-old. My 7-year-old son is amazingly patient. My 4-year-old daughter, on the other hand, has banned me from gaming. I think I'll leave gaming to their dad and just stick to cooking.
It's been about three years since I started making cupcakes from scratch. My very first batch of cupcakes came from a box mix. After precisely following package instructions, my cupcakes still came out dry and pathetic. I was so bad at baking that I couldn't get any worst. The only direction was up and to get better so I persisted on. I continued to test recipes and tweaked recipes slightly. I recorded every change in hopes to find the perfect recipe. It wasn't until recently that I was truly satisfied with my vanilla cupcake recipe. It was moist, fluffy, and flavorful. The only thing that could improve the recipe was to use vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. Until I can find quality vanilla beans without having to sell blood, vanilla extract will do just fine. I use my vanilla cupcake recipe for a base to many other cupcakes. Recently, I made apple pie cupcakes, tweaking my vanilla cupcake recipe just so slightly.
For my apple pie cupcakes, I made a traditional apple pie filling with Granny Smith apples and a vanilla cinnamon cupcake batter, which was my vanilla cupcake recipe with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I filled my cupcake trays about 1/2 full with the batter. Then added the apple pie filling directly on top. While the cupcakes baked, the batter sank to the center. I initially planned on frosting the cupcakes with either a brown sugar Swiss buttercream frosting, but I loved the look of the apple pie filling poking out at the top. I omitted the frosting entirely and simply add a toasted walnut crumble to the top of the cake. The result? It was heavenly. The cake was moist. The apple filling was scrumptious and light. And the crunchy topping provided a nice contrasting texture, resembling the crust in apple pie. My kids didn't like these cupcakes because having no frosting on cupcakes was absolutely absurd to them. The adults, however, enjoyed them immensely. It was a delicate dessert that wasn't too sweet. I will definitely make these cupcakes again for the holiday season.
For those who want more of a traditional cupcake look, I highly recommend going a la mode. Instead of frosting, try a big scoop of vanilla ice cream at the top. Then add the crumble to the top of the ice cream for a finished look. Happy eating!
Apple Pie Filling Recipe
4 medium apples (peeled, cored and diced)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
Corn starch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
In a pan, melt butter over medium heat.
Add apple,cinnamon, sugar and water.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-6 minutes or until apples are slightly softened.
Remove lid and add slurry to pan while stirring.
Let it bubble and thicken without lid for 1-2 minute.
Allow the apple sauce to cool completely before adding to cupcakes.
Vanilla Cinnamon Cupcake Recipe
Yields 18-20 standard sized cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined.
Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in thirds mixing until just combined after each third.
Mix in water until just combined.
Fill cupcake liners 1/2.
Add a heaping tablespoon of apple pie filling to the center of the batter. The filling will sink down while baking.
Bake for 17-20 minutes.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Toasted Topping Crumble Recipe
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup walnuts (chop finely)
1/2 stick butter (melted)
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts.
Drizzle melted butter stirring with a fork to get small clumps.
In a small sauce pan, toast the crumbled topping on medium high heat. Constantly stir with fork to prevent burning. Once the outside is light brown, remove from heat and let it cool.