Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recouping - Apple Praline Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Well, the big muffin just returned from his big half day of school, all 3.5 hours of it. That was probably the longest 3.5 hours of my life. I went to pick him up from school and was delighted to see a huge smile across his face. Of course, he can't remember his teacher's name but who cares? He had fun!

While he was gone I decided to try some self therapy by making some cupcakes. And, they have hit the perfect happy spot that I needed. Since we are in back to school mood, I decided to try out some fresh apple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and praline topping. Did you get all of that? It was sort of a recipe gone wild. I don't know about you but one of my favorite things in this whole wide world to eat are caramel apples. There is a store in Gatinburg that we must go to whenever we are within a good two hour drive. I can smell the caramel cooking as I wind through the Smokey Mountains. I always buy two, one to eat there and one for the way back. I have been known to jump out of my car in the middle of the road to run in and buy these apples. I love them so.

This cupcakes was kind of a duplication of a really good caramel apple...well maybe I went a little overboard. But, I really needed something to cheer me up! I hope these can help you when you need a little self therapy. Enjoy!

Fresh apple cupcakes

1 1/2 c veggie oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose four
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 c peeled and grated apples (I had fuji on hand so they were extra sweet!)

Beat oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then slowly add to the oil mixture. Stir in apples. Divide evenly among paper lined cupcake pan (I got 28 cupcakes out of this batter). Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.
Allow them to cool before topping.

1 8oz package of cream cheese at room temp
1/2 stick of butter (4 Tbsp) at room temp
1 Tbsp 1/2 and 1/2
2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until thoroughly combined. With the mixer set on low, slowly add powdered sugar. Add 1/2 and 1/2 and turn up to medium and mix until well combined.
Place cream cheese in a large Ziploc baggie and snip one corner in order to pipe a good dollop on the top of each cupcake.

Praline Topping
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar

In a large heavy saucepan over low heat, combine sugar, milk and butter and stir. Once the butter melts, increase the heat to medium/high and allow it to cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and sugar. Allow the mixture to cool completely. I took a spoonful of the praline topping and rolled it in my hand to form a ball then lightly mashed it down to make the topping on my cupcake. I topped each cupcake with a red chocolate heart.

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