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Caramel Appletini Cupcakes

27 Oct

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Halloween has got to be one of the best holidays out there, if for no other reason than because it’s a just-for-fun holiday. All you have to do is put on a crazy outfit and go out and collect more candy than you should ever eat. (Some of us also know this as a trip to the Walmart.)

Caramel apples are probably the iconic Halloween treat for me. They’ve been associated with the spooky holiday for as long as I can remember. When I was little, there was always that one brilliantly crisp fall Saturday when my parents would load us all up into the Rambler station wagon and drive us out of town to the nearest apple orchard. In those days, it was actually a bargain to pick your own, and as anyone who follows this blog knows, my parents loved a bargain. We’d bring back a big bushel basket of apples that we kept in the garage, where it was always nice and chilly.

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Invariably, there were always several apples in that bushel that looked less than great. Those were the special ones, set aside for the profound honor of becoming caramel apples. My mom would bring out the bag of Kraft Caramels, take out the little popsicle sticks, and set us down to start unwrapping those lovely little squares. With the four of us popping more of those caramels into our mouths than into the bowl, it’s a wonder there were ever enough for the apples.

As my mom melted down the caramels, we’d get busy pushing the popsicle sticks into the apples. Once the caramels were sauce-ified, we’d start twirling and swirling the apples, trying to get as much caramel as possible on the apple, never quite making it all the way to the stick. On to the wax paper then, to cool, which always took too long.

Finally! time to eat – and to this day, it’s always the same – a couple of big bites of caramel-covered apple, but once the caramel is gone, I am done. Nobody really wants the rest of all that plain old apple, right? It was just a way to get all that caramel-ly deliciousness.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a good caramel apple. But I haven’t missed those flavors, because I’ve found the big girl version – the Caramel Appletini. A nice little cocktail consisting of vodka and apple schnapps in a glass rimmed with caramel sauce…mmmmmm!

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Of course, I had to try to “cupcake” it, and just in time for Halloween, too. I started with a spice cake mix, added in some Angry Orchard hard apple cider, topped it off with apple schnapps frosting, and garnished with Captain Morgan spiced rum caramel sauce.

These Halloween Caramel Appletini cupcakes are so good, it’s scary!

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Caramel Appletini Cupcakes

I used a Betty Crocker mix for this recipe, so the ingredients listed are for that mix. If you use a different brand, follow the directions, substituting the water with the same amount of hard apple cider.

1 box spice cake mix

1 cup Angry Orchard hard apple cider

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer, mixing at low speed for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

Appletini Frosting

1 cup butter, softened

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

3 – 4 tablespoons apple schnapps

Cream butter in bowl of stand mixer. Add 3 cups confectioners sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons apple schnapps, mixing at low speed until blended and then on high speed for up to 5 minutes until light and fluffy, adding more sugar and schnapps until desired consistency is reached. Frost as desired.

Captain Morgan Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce

Follow the directions for the caramel sauce from my Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes recipe. Drizzle caramel sauce over the frosted cupcakes.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes with Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce

26 Oct

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So apparently, just about very day is a national some type of yummy food day.  Fitting for the season, October 21 is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day. Now, I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake.  I know it’s a delicious, decadent, indulgent treat, but I’m more of a cookie, cake and brownie girl. But the thought of a pumpkin cheesecake cupcake got the creative wheels turning.

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First, the crust – no ordinary graham cracker crust for these special cheesecakes, I had to go with something a little more seasonal, something more evocative of fall, something with a little kick of spice to go along with the pumpkin. I don’t know what they call them where you live, but around here, we’ve got our Sweetzels Spiced Wafers, and they’ve got quite a cult following.  I don’t know which I look forward to more – the first fall pumpkin ales or the first spotting of that bright orange Sweetzels box.  OK, that’s just silly, of course it’s the pumpkin ales, but the Sweetzels are a close second.

Next, the cheesecake filling. Easy enough, using a basic cheesecake recipe with a helping of  pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice stirred in for that touch of autumn.

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And finally, the bit that makes these little cheesecakes bui cupcake-worthy. Spiced rum caramel sauce. No goopy canned cherry topping for these cheesecakes. We’ve got some Captain Morgan and he’s bringing the heavy guns. Mix a nice dose of that spiced rum in with a little brown sugar, a little cream and you are good to go. Seriously, is there anything the Captain can’t do?

So happy National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day – the bui cupcakes way!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe by Bakedbree

For the Sweetzels Crust

20 Sweetzels (or other gingersnap-type cookies)

3 tablespoons butter – melted

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Put the Sweetzels in food processor and pulse on and off until crumbs. Add melted butter and mix in processor until combined. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of crumb mixture to each liner. Tamp down with the bottom of small glass. Bake for 8 minutes.

For the Cheesecake Mixture

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 brown sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree  (not pie filling)

Cream the above at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add:

1 tablespoon sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until combined. Pour on top of pre-baked crumb crusts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature, then finish cooling in the fridge

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Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Epicurious

This recipe makes a little more caramel sauce than you probably need for these little cheesecakes. But hold on to the leftovers. Coming up next? Caramel Appletini Cupcakes!

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Captain Morgan spiced rum

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in Captain Morgan spiced rum. Cool completely, stirring every few minutes.

Top cooled cheesecakes with the caramel sauce. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Add a spritz of whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!

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Bananas Foster Cupcakes

3 Dec

I am fairly certain the inability to waste anything is hard-wired into my DNA.  Coming from old, old Yankee stock (branches of my family tree were growing in New England before the Mayflower ever left European shores), I was raised by parents who were recycling well before “recycling” became part of the American vernacular.

Frugality was ingrained at an early age when, for example, we were treated to a trip to the movies, a rare treat indeed. On the designated day, my mother would begin popping huge amounts of popcorn, from kernels of course, no Jiffy Pop for this family. When all the corn had been popped, she’d pull out 4 empty, family-sized bread bags that she had been saving for such an occasion. She’d fill each bag to the top with the freshly popped popcorn and dole them out, one to a child. She and my dad would pack us into the family Rambler station wagon, and off to the drive-in we’d go, the youngest in their pajamas. By my way of thinking, this was a perfect hat-trick of thriftiness, saving on both the price of admission and movie snacks, and recycling those old Sunbeam bread bags.

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And so it was with this mind-set that I faced the over-ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl on the counter. Sure, I could whip up a batch of the always popular banana nut bread, but I was feeling creative and wanted to try something different. Besides, I had plenty of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum leftover from my Spiced Rum and Pumpkin Cupcakes. And so, although the recipe called for dark rum, I used the Captain Morgan.

Because, you know, we wouldn’t want to waste it.

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This recipe is adapted from one I found by Xexe on Food.com. I was not successful in getting the rum to ignite, but give it a try, you might have better luck – and the cupcakes were still delicious – moist, but light with just the right amount of banana flavor, offset perfectly by the rum enhanced frosting – enjoy!

BANANAS FOSTER CUPCAKES

Banana Mixture

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, quartered
2 tablespoons rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saute pan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 4-5 minutes.

Add bananas, turn once, cooking 1-2 minutes per side.

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Turn off burner, remove pan from heat. Add rum and vanilla. Using a long match, ignite the rum. Flame should extinguish in a few seconds. Set aside.

Cupcakes

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2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum
3/4 cup sour cream

Combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, vanilla, rum and banana mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, to the wet ingredients. Don’t over mix.

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Pour into prepared cupcake pans. Bake at 350 degrees, 20-25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 1 minute, then remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.

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Rum Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add cinnamon. Add vanilla and rum. Mix in powdered sugar. Add more sugar or rum to desired taste and consistency.

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