September 25, 2014

Apple Cider Cupcakes

Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream. 

Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Fall is here!  I think that my biggest motivation for making these cupcakes was that I wanted to be able to eat apple butter by the spoonful, an then some.  Plus, I've had these fall colored sprinkles for a while now and I have been dying to use them!  (You know, the whole "when life gives you sprinkles" thing...) Most of my creations are inspired by the sprinkles that I find. 

When Jamie and I were in college we used to take regular trips to the nearby apple farm, eat at the yummy diner, shop in the country stores, and taste and buy as many apple flavored things that we could.  After the apple season was over, we would still visit to play in the snow in the winter time. 

Fall Autumn Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

These cupcakes are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and truly give you the nice warm feeling you get from sipping hot apple cider from a mug.  You know by now that I love me some Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but when I figured out that I could use BROWN BUTTER to make it, my mouth began to water just thinking about it.  This is the best SMBC you will ever make.  And remember, Swiss Meringue Buttercreams can seem intimidating at first, but it is worth the extra effort, and really isn't difficult. 

Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Apple Cider Cupcakes

Makes about 24 cupcakes

Doctored Up Cupcake Batter:

1 box yellow cake mix
½ cup butter (melted and cooled)
3 eggs
1 cup apple cider
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cardamom
(you could substitute 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice for all the spices)

Mix all ingredients together on low with flat paddle on kitchen aid for about 1 minute.  Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  Cool completely. 


1 cup apple butter
1 cup chunky apple sauce
A couple pinches of the same spices that were in the cupcakes

Mix together all of the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cupcakes. 

Brown Butter SMBC:

2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
5 egg whites

Brown the butter in a saucepan or large skillet.  It should take about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Stir pretty frequently and the moment you start to see brown specks on the bottom of the pan remove from heat and whisk for another minute or two.  It will continue to brown so be careful not to burn it.  Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until solid.  This can be done ahead of time if you want.  (when the butter was solid but still soft, I was sure to stir it with a spatula to be sure it was all blended together and sure that all the little browned bits were mixed in and then continued to let it set in the fridge.)

Remove the butter from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temp while you make the meringue. 

To make the frosting, heat the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler for about 5 minutes.  Whisk continuously.  You want to make sure you reach at least 150 degrees.  A good way to check is to stick your finger in and rub some of the mixture between two fingers. It should be smooth and all the sugar should be dissolved.  (I use my kitchen aid bowl over a pot of water so that I don’t have to transfer it after its cooked.)  Once it reaches temp, place on kitchen aid and whisk at high speed for about 15 minutes or until the bowl is no longer warm, but ambient temp.  Make sure you have stiff peaks.  Switch to the paddle attachment and on medium speed add the butter one tablespoon at a time.  Make sure its fully incorporated before adding more butter. 
Don’t worry if it starts to deflate or separate.  Continue to add all the butter 1 tbsp at a time, then if the consistency is too soft, place the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes and bring it back out and mix it with the paddle again.       

Assembling the Cupcakes

Use a cupcake corer, strawberry huller (that's what I use), a large piping tip, or small paring knife to remove the core of each of your cooled cupcakes.  Fill each center with about a teaspoon or two of filling.  I filled a pastry bag with the apple butter mixture so that I could easily fill the cakes. Pipe the frosting on top and decorate how you would like.  I went the easy route and used some sprinkles, but a drizzle of caramel would be excellent on these as well!  Keep these cupcakes refrigerated but bring to room temperature before serving. 


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