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Spiced Apple Cup Cakes

As the winter nights draw in, I find myself seeking comforting recipes that fill the house with beautiful spicy aromas. Making our house feel all homely and welcoming. Like a big, soft blanket to snuggle into. On these shorter autumn days, the spiced cup cakes are lovely to come home to after an invigorating walk outdoors. Great for little hands, but also for us adults to have with a big mug of steaming tea.

Autumn styled food photo

The great thing about these cup cakes is that the use of wholemeal flour, sunflower oil and maple syrup make for healthier sweet treats. So as indulgent as they may taste, they are a little easier on the waistline. I love salted caramel, but this ingredient could be left out if you are wanting a lighter cup cake.

Ingredients

Cakes:

225g organic wholemeal plain flour

113g brown sugar

1tsp cinnamon

1tsp ground ginger

1½tsp bicarbonate of soda

65g maple syrup

120ml sunflower oil

1 organic egg, beaten

120ml organic semi-skimmed milk

1 apple, grated

Zest of 1 clementine

Makes about 12 cup cakes

Cream cheese frosting:

275g icing sugar

50g organic butter, room temperature

125g full fat cream cheese, chilled

Salted caramel:

200g granulated sugar

90g butter, small pieces

120ml double cream

½ tsp high quality salt

Caramel centre in spiced apple cup cake

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180deg C, Gas Mark 4

Sieve the flour, cinnamon, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the sugar.

In a second bowl combine the wet ingredients: maple syrup, oil, egg, milk. Grated apple and clementine zest.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir until just combined – you don't want to over beat this mixture as it will make heavy cup cakes.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cup cake cases and transfer into the preheated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through.

Allow the cup cakes to cool completely. 

For the salted caramel, heat the sugar in a medium heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon. The sugar will form clumps but will eventually melt into a thick amber liquid. Don't allow the sugar to burn so once it starts to colour, immediately start to add the butter. Be careful as the mixture will bubble up so add the butter slowly and steadily, while stirring the whole time.

Now slowly pour in the cream. This time the mixture will boil even more rapidly, so take care. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. Then remove from the heat and stir in the salt.

Allow to cool before using. The caramel sauce can be poured into a sterilised jar and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Whilst everything is cooling, beat together the icing sugar and butter. Then add the cream cheese and beat briefly. You should have a light and creamy texture. 

Before piping, cut out the centres of the cup cakes to leave a small hole and fill with a teaspoon of salted caramel. Then pipe a swirl of cream cheese frosting on top of each cup cake. These are best eaten on the same day. If you wish to prepare in advance, store the cream cheese frosting in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Enjoy x

Cinnamon dusted cup cake