Tart apple cupcakes with a sweet caramel frosting - basically a bonfire night party in your mouth!
Ingredients: (makes 24)
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g light brown sugar
A pinch of salt
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 medium eggs
240g self-raising flour
250g Bramley apples, peeled and chopped (approx 2 large apples)
60ml vanilla syrup
Preheat the oven to 175°C/Gas mark 4 and line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake cases.
Place the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly in a jug and slowly add to the butter mixture while beating quickly. If the mixture starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2-3 tablespoons of flour before adding the rest of the egg. This will rebind the mixture. Once all the egg has been added, sift in the flour and fold until the batter is just combined. Fold in the apple. Using a piping bag or tablespoon, fill the cases until two-thirds full.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, depending on your oven. They are cooked when the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or skewer into the centre of each; it should come out clean.
Once cooked, let rest for a few minutes outside of the oven. Brush the tops with syrup while they are still warm. Remove them from the trays and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To decorate: Use the caramel cream cheese frosting and finish with a lollipop stick.
60g caster sugar
Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring just to the boil. Stir until the sugar crystals have all dissolved, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool. Add ½ a used vanilla pod while cooking or ½ tsp vanilla extract to the cooled syrup.
Basic cream cheese frosting:
250g full-fat cream cheese, slightly softened
250g unsalted butter, softened
625g icing sugar, sifted
Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
Place the butter and a third of the sugar into a separate bowl and cream until very pale and fluffy. Add another third of the sugar and repeat. Add the remaining sugar and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps remain. Add the cream cheese, a little at a time, and mix at a low speed until combined. Chill until firm enough to pipe.
Caramel: Gently mix in 150g soft caramel or dulce de leche.
Edited extracts taken from 'Cakes In Bloom: The Art of Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers' by Peggy Porschen, £25; www.peggyporschen.com