I found this recipe soon after deciding on a carnival theme for my company's Bake-Off. I had searched the web using every carnival food name that I could think of, and finally came across these wonderful candied apple cupcakes. I had no doubt that I would be making these. The recipe sounded so fun and creative, and would fit in perfectly with the theme!
When mixing the batter, it may seem a little thick at first, but once the apples are added the juice from the apples helps to lighten it up. At first I was a little surprised by the amount of apples used in the cupcake batter. Four cups! It seems like a lot, but now I realize that it's really necessary to give the cake a strong enough apple flavor to be noticeable among the sweet candy coating.
We filled the mini cupcake liners pretty full, so that we could have a large top suitable for dipping. Initially, I was afraid that they would spill over as they baked, but this level actually worked out perfectly.
Once baked, it was very difficult to continue the recipe without eating all of them! The cupcake batter resulted in a very moist, apple-y cake with just a slight aroma of cinnamon.
The next step in our process was to prepare the candy coating for dipping. If you have a candy thermometer, it is really quite simple. Sugar, water, corn syrup, and red food coloring were first brought to a boil. Then we reduced to a simmer for 20 minutes, and then brought back up to 310 degrees (the cracking stage).
Finally, the cupcakes were ready to dip! Using tongs, the cupcakes were dipped upside-down into the candy coating. Before the candy was able to set, a lollipop stick was inserted into the top of the cupcake, and then arranged in a foil-lined pan to completley harden. It was really helpful to have another person assisting to insert the lollipop sticks after dipping. I suggest finding a helper if you decide to insert lollipop sticks--the sticks aren't necessary, but they give the cupcake a more recognizable candied apple look.
It took a few dipped cupcakes before getting the hang of it. We had to make some adjustments like adding more food coloring, and changing our dipping technique, but soon we figured out the best way to dip and ended up with pretty, smooth candy-coated tops. The idea of making the candy coating was a little intimidating at first, but it ended up being a great success! The cupcakes turned out amazing, and were definitely an eye-catcher at the Bake Off!
Candied Apple Cupcakes
Recipe from HonestFare.com
Yield: about 44 mini cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup unsalted, room temp butter (1 stick)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 cups golden delicious apples (diced small or julienne)
For the candy coating:
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
red food coloring
Preheat oven at 350 degrees and prepare mini cupcake pans with liners.
Cream softened, room temperature butter and sugar together in a bowl using a mixer or whisk until well combined and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again until evenly incorporated.
In another bowl, mix all dry ingredients together using a fork or whisk. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and mix together well until combined. Fold in the apples.
Divide the batter among lined cups and fill at least 3/4 full, so you get a nice round top to dip into the candy. Bake the cupcakes for 10 minutes or until spongy to the touch.
The candy topping:
Bring water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil in a small pot. Add food coloring and reduce heat to a simmer. After 20 minutes, bring the mixture to 310 degrees (the cracking stage). Once it reaches this stage, immediately remove from heat and prepare to dip.
Dip each cupcake, one at a time, using tongs and holding the cupcake upside-down in the candy just long enough to coat the top. Slowly rotate each cupcake right side up after dipping. Insert a lollipop stick before the candy hardens, and set to dry.