It’s not often that I have an idea I’m so passionate about that I need to share it with the world. But a few weeks ago, just when summer was lingering into the chilly evenings of fall, The BF and I enjoyed a divine dessert at Boulevard. I had heart amazing things about this restaurant, and I was definitely not let down; however, it was their dessert that lingered with me the most. Essentially a reinvention of all-American Apple Pie: thick, delectable square of apple terrine; I liken it to the pudding-ed juices that would dribble out as you wrung out a freshly baked apple pie (if that were possible of course), spiced ice cream, sandwiched between two sugar cookies and rounded out with pecans, a final sprinkle of candied apple pieces. There are not words. Let’s just say that The BF was not ashamed to scrape his finger along the leftover bits on his plate.
So how did this lifechanging sweet motivate me? Within a week after eating it, when it was still on my mind, and I could remember it’s textures on my tongue I ran into Cupcake BakeShop’s cupcake contest, with the theme “Reinvention.” I’m not competitive, never have been, I’m all too happy to let others take the gold, but when I saw that contest, my first thought was, I could win. Now whether that’s even moderately true or not, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I had an idea that I just I had to try.
An apple cake was easy enough, but I desperately wanted to try that to recreate that terrine in the form of a pudding I could dollop inside my moist cake. Well I dug through the internet like I would if I were Googling an ex-crush, but no firm signs of an apple terrine. I did, however, find recipes for apple pudding and one for a terrine that sounded somewhat similar to what I had eaten. I managed to rework them to create the exact flavor I needed and the pudding texture that would set up just right in the cupcakes. My final step was frosting. Buttercream was an obvious choice since it immediatley conjured up the buttery goodness of apple pie, but vanilla? That didn’t seem right, and I already had a lot of spice going on, so what’s the next best thing to vanilla and pie spices…bourbon, of course.
So that was that, and thus, my re-invented Apple Pie cupcakes were borne. Oh, and they tasted amazing too. The perfect Autumn cupcake.
Apple Pudding Cupcakes, with Bourbon-spiked Buttercream Frosting
Cake from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1.5 lbs. Granny Smith Apples, peeled and grated
2 1/3 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sour cream
- Preheat over to 350 F. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon over the apples and let them sit for 15 minutes to expel some of their juices.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour the apples over a fine mesh sieve and let the juices drain. Don’t press down, just let the natural juices leak through. Set Aside.
- Beat eggs and sugar together in a mixer on medium-low speed until thickened and pale yellow, about two minutes.
- Add the oil, pouring slowly, until just incorporated.
- Add the sour cream on low speed until the white streaks are gone.
- Pour in the dry mixture in two separate batches. Mix until just incorporated in the batter.
- Finally, add the apples. Stir in by hand to prevent over-mixing. The batter will be runny, but don’t fret, that’s normal.
- Spoon the batter half way up cupcake liners. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar in a thin layer on top. Top with batter until just below the liner.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool to get ready for the pudding and frosting.
Apple “Terrine” adapted from frenchgardening.com
2 lbs. sweet apples; I used
½ cup hard local cider; I used Aces here, local to
1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. Calvados (apple brandy)
2 eggs, beaten
6 tbsp. butter
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Peel and chop apples into two inch pieces and place in a baking dish along with the lemon juice and cider. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until they are soft enough to mash down with a potato masher or a fork (if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.
- Remove from heat and mash, along with the butter, Calvados, eggs, and butter. Cover in tin foil, bake for another 40 minutes, until much of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from oven and chill.
- Once chilled use an immersion blender to finish off the smoothing process of the apple. Set aside.
Brandy Buttercream Frosting adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cakes: Fillings & Frostings
3 cold egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup water
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2 tbsp. pieces
2 tbsp. high-end brandy; I used Knob-Creek
- Stir together the egg whites and cream of tartar, until the cream of tartar completely dissolves. Set aside until the sugar is ready
- Clip a candy thermometer to a small saucepan. (Make sure it’s immersed in the liquid but not touching the bottom.) Combine the 2/3 cup sugar, the water, and the corn syrup. Cook over low heat, partially covered until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir often. Raise the heat to high and let the syrup bubble vigorously, until the thermometer reaches 240 F; this is soft ball stage. Wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush. Remove from heat.
- As soon as the sugar is off the heat, begin to whip the eggs and cream of tartar mixture with the 2 tbsp. of sugar on medium speed until soft peaks form. About 5 to 10 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low while you pour in the hot sugar mixture. Try not to let it hit edges of the bowl because it will harden on contact. Once all of the syrup has been added increase the speed of the mixture. Beat until stiff peaks form.
- At this stage, you can begin to add the butter one-piece at a time until combined. Using a spatula wipe down the edges as the butter has a tendency to hang on the edges of mixing bowl. If you notice that the butter is forming tiny lumps, place the mixing bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and whisk vigorously by hand until combined.
- Once the consistency is right, add the brandy and give it a final stir. Using immediatley or set in the fridge until ready.
- Cut a small circle from the top of the cooled cupcakes, going about an inch down. Remove the circle and fill with a dollop of the apple “terrine.” Cover up with the remaining circle of cupcake.
- Top the cupcake with a generous swathing of frosting.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.