Friday, October 21, 2011

Awesome Sauce (I mean, Applesauce) and Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Muffin Cupcakes

I planned on making an apple upside down cake, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew it'd be too much and that my idea needed some reworking. I love baking, but I've never been much of a sweet freak, a whole cake is just not something that would be consumed quickly enough in my house, given that my oldest also lacks a sweet tooth. My grandma just gave me a nice new muffin tin, so I thought I'd let that go to good use instead.

I really only make 2 kinds of cupcakes ever, my Lemon Berry Cupcakes and a Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcake that I'll have to share one of these days. Most of the other "cupcakes" that I make are really muffins with frosting. I'm all about making healthy things slightly unhealthy. Or, as I look at it, non-healthy things a bit healthy. So, when I went to come up with a recipe for a caramel apple in cake form, I went more towards the muffin route.

The way to make any cupcake healthier is to use half whole wheat flour, applesauce (instead of oil), yogurt (better for you than butter!) and as little sugar as you can. This works with any autumn flavored muffin or cupcake - pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, maple... These actually only have maybe 1/4 tablespoon of sugar in all. Now, they do have honey in them, too, though. And, I had to add a nice dollop of caramel to the center, but if you were serious about the sugar factor, you could easily get away with leaving it out and these "cupcakes" would still rock your socks off. I also went a bit further with the unhealthy side by adding Burnt Butter Frosting, which is almost the most amazing thing ever. But, again, if you wanted to stay on the healthy side - just sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top or just leave it out completely - as I said before, these will seriously knock your socks off.

And, it all started with my daughter making the applesauce for me. I'm not a fan of chunky applesauce. I don't know what y'all see in it. I like it cold and smooth. I don't like cinnamon in it. I want apples. I don't want it sugary. I want it tart. My kids love sour things, not sure where they get that, but give them a lemon and they won't bother making lemonade. This applesauce is so good and good for you. By leaving the skin on you get all those nutrients and a beautiful pink color. The lemon isn't overpowering and the vanilla is just enough to give you a sweet aroma without overpowering the apples. This is so easy and good - we will be making more. We didn't use all of it in the muffins, but it's already almost gone.

Awesome Sauce (with Apples)

You Will Need:
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Saucepan and Cover
  • Fork
  • Food Processor (unless you want it chunky, then fine! Just mash when cooled instead)
  • Medium Sized Jar
  • 4 Haralson Apples (or any apple)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw
  • 3/4 C Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 of a Lemon Juiced
  1. Wash, core and chop apples into medium-sized chunks (don't forget to keep the peel on! No pealing! Just trust me on this)
  2. In saucepan squeeze the lemon over the apples and add water
  3. Put saucepan on stovetop on medium heat
  4. Stir in vanilla and sugar (I use a fork to stir)
  5. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft
  6. Let cool
  7. Puree in food processor until smooth
Use it in muffins, cakes, cookies, bread or just for your kid's lunch box! But, now, now onto the "cupcakes"!

Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Cupcake Muffins

You Will Need:

  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Small Mixing Bowl
  • Hand Mixer
  • Sifter (skip it if you want, but like I said in my Cornbread Post, it can be worth it!)
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Muffin Pan
  • Spoon
  • Nonstick Spray
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Applesauce
  • 1/4 Cup Yogurt
  • 2 Egg Whites (see? Healthy!)
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Cup Caramel Sauce (I used Smuckers from a jar, you can easily make some, too!)
  • Peanuts (for garnish)
  1. Mix and sift dry ingredients in small bowl
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients, leaving the apple
  3. Chop apple into small pieces (I did little slivers) and squeeze 1/2 a lemon over them
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth (it is not runny like a cake batter, it's supposed to be more dense)
  5. Mix in apple pieces
  6. Spray muffin pan and fill halfway, making a little nest as much as possible (don't stress)
  7. Fill each nest with a small dollop of caramel and top with more muffin mix (just enough to cover caramel)
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees
  9. Drizzle with Burnt Butter Glaze, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or peanuts or just eat plain!
Burnt Butter Glaze
  1. Melt 1 Stick Butter on medium heat in small frying pan until it turns brown (remove immediately! Don't let it actually burn!)
  2. In 1 Small Bowl stir in 1 Heaping Cup of Powdered Sugar into the butter with an Electric Mixer until smooth


  1. Found this through a goggle search after making applesauce. What was the texture like on these? It seems as if these muffins could be rubbery with all the "healthy" fat subs. I could see adding yogurt for more moisture and keeping real butter in them. Also the yolk is the healthiest part of the egg!I'm guessing that jarred caramel you used has way worse ingredients in it then anything else. High fructose corn syrup most definitely being one of them. I like the idea of these for a Halloween party I am attending but if I were to go through the trouble of making homemade applesauce then I would also make the caramel sauce. Super easy to do!

  2. They are seriously the perfect consistency and texture. I was a bit worried when I was mixing the batter, but trust me - perfect. Not heavy or rubbery or anything. Fluffy even. As far as fat goes, egg whites are healthier, but it wasn't out of healthiness that I used them that way. It just works better. I'm not a health nut - but sometimes it just works better and in this case, it was just perfect for what I was going for. Jarred caramel definitely was the worst part - but I was concentrating on not actually burning my butter and was running out of time. Like I said - caramel is easily done, so if you have the time to make everything from scratch - go for it! I had a million apples and no applesauce, so my daughter made some for me. It just worked out that way. I just do what I can :)

  3. These muffins sound awesome, Rachel! Thanks for sharing the tips on healthy additions to the recipe, a good reminder that simple tweaks can make a recipe healthier.

  4. No worries Rachel! They look super! I amve been a baker for years and ANONYMOUS has NO idea what she is talking about. The yolk is NOT the healthiest part of the egg, it is where the cholesterol and other fatty ingredients lie. ANONYMOUS shouldn't make a comment without MAKING the muffins! Really, too much free time? Nice work Rachel, looking forward to the rest of the website!

  5. So, I ate these muffins in an orgy of joy. I got to eat some of the muffins from the actual pictures. After I read the recipe, I was shocked. Like the author I have high cholesterol, and I assumed these were not something I should be eating. WOW! They taste like they have butter and sugar with them. I love baking with applesauce, bananas, etc, for this very reason! They keep the muffins (or banana bread, or what have you) super moist and spongy even with the use of whole wheat flour (I like to use half and half whole wheat and white too)! The glaze is such a nice touch. They would have been delish without it but its lovely. There wasn't too much caramel; just enough for a nice lingering finish. The slices of apple were supple and made them feel decadent.

    People love to hate on high fructose corn syrup and that's fine. I try to avoid it too, blah blah blah. But the whole point of this blog is being realistic (even though the author's "realistic" is my amazing). Its all about making awesome food while dealing with the realities of life. People with tons of extra time and tons of extra cash may have a different perspective. Of course, those people don't realize they have extra time and cash. They think they have it so hard and that's why they have to put others down a bit in order to feel bigger.

    Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. :)

  6. Nice! You're a great writer -I meant to skim through to the recipe, but was having too much fun reading the quips and asides. Will definitely give these a try.

  7. Thanks, you guys! These muffin cupcakes really shocked me because I "winged it" and they turned out so perfect. I hope you all have a chance to try them!

  8. I haven't gotten as far as the cupcakes but I did make the applesauce from a bunch of honey crisp apples, enough for a double batch. I used a food processor very carefully and like the texture very much. I could have hand mashed it if I wanted it lumpier and it would still be good. I loved the tart flavor from the honey crisp and the sugar amount in the recipe seems to be perfect. I'd be tempted to try a batch with a cinnamon stick in it. I didn't get that pretty blush color though since my apples had very little red to them. I will definitely do this again when I overbuy apples (which I seem to do a lot!)

  9. I always overbuy apples, too. But luckily, my kids love applesauce, so it works out perfectly. I'm glad you liked it!

  10. These photos look amazing. I have a ton of apple butter - trying to find some good recipes to use that but keep finding applesauce.