As wonderful as apple pie is, it isn’t the only dessert out there that uses apples. These Brown Sugar Apple Cupcakes with Candied Ginger are an excellent choice for times when you want an apple dessert, but only have a single apple on hand. Anyone who has baked a pie knows that you’ll need at least a few apples to create the filling, and it’s nice to know that there are some options out there for times when you have only one apple to use up.
These cupcakes are a wonderful option for fall and winter baking. The base is a buttermilk and brown sugar batter that is spiced with ground ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. They’re packed with bits of diced apple and candied ginger. They have a tight, but very soft crumb, and the flavor of the apple and spices comes through really well. They’re downright addictive – and very satisfying if you’re in the mood for an apple dessert.
For best results in these cupcakes, you will need to dice your apple very fine. Any type of apple can be used – unlike apple pie, where you need apples that will hold their shape during a long bake – so feel free to use what you have on hand. My apple was diced into pieces that were less than 1/4-inch, which was about the same size as the pieces of candied ginger that I used. The apples blended almost seamlessly into the batter at that size, giving the cupcakes a lovely apple flavor without making them soggy due to excess moisture (a problem for cupcakes that use fresh fruit, sometimes).
The cupcakes are finished with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of candied ginger. They’re actually delicious enough to eat on their own, without the added frosting, but a little cream cheese is always a nice match for an apple cake. A few bits of candied ginger ties the frosting in nicely with the cupcakes and gives those eating them a look at what they’ll find inside.
Brown Sugar Apple Cupcakes with Candied Ginger
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup light/golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup candied ginger pieces
3/4 cup finely diced, peeled apple
1 batch Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
candied ginger, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and nutmeg.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients and add in the ginger and diced apple when almost all the flour has been incorporated. No streaks of flour should be visible in the finished batter and both the apple and ginger pieces should be well-distributed.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack before frosting with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorating with candied ginger.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 – 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Blend in 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt and mix until frosting is smooth. Gradually blend in remaining confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and spreadable.