I debated over what cupcake to use, and finally settled on an Apple Spice Cupcake from the book "cupcakes" that D and I received for our wedding. (cupcakes: Luscious bakeshop favorites from your home kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski). The finalists were carrot, zucchini, and french vanilla. If it were Fall, I might consider a pumpkin cupcake. The cupcakes came out a little too tender; D suggested baking them a little longer than the recipe called for. I already baked them for about 15 minutes more than the recipe below called for because our oven's temperature is a little bit off.
I also used silicone baking cups that my sister in law gave me a few months ago, but I don't think I will use them again. The cupcakes stuck to them too much, and they weren't as convenient as the paper ones. I'm not convinced that the paper ones are so bad for the environment anyway that you have to use re-usable ones.
3 large eggs
1 cups pure maple syrup, preferably grade A dark amber
3 tbsp bourbon
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour maple syrup into a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium-high heat; bring syrup to a boil. Cook syrup for about 15 minutes as it begins to thicken. When done, it will start to harden on the spoon when you stir and remove the spoon with some syrup residue and let sit for a moment.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. While the electric mixer is running, pour the syrup in a slow, steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg-yolk mixture (it is essential that the syrup touches the side of the bowl as you pour it in so the sugar will be very evenly incorporated and not splatter onto the sides of the bowl and harden into candy) until the syrup has been completely incorporated, about 1 1/2 minutes. Beat until the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add butter, one piece at a time, until all of it has been completely incorporated and the frosting is fluffy, about 4 minutes more. Use immediately, or keep refrigerated for up to a week. Makes 2 cups.
Apple Spice Cupcakes
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
5 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
4 tbsp plus 1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose or cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 pinch of cloves
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 4 tbsp of butter. Add the apple chunks and the 2 tbsp of sugar and cook, stirring often, until the apples start to turn brown and carmelize, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, mix with an electric mixer the remaining 12 tbsp of butter and the 1 1/2 cup of sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Slowly add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add the sour cream and the cooled apple mixture, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely for about an hour.
Frost the cupcakes and serve.
I decorated mine with candied ginger.