One of the mine and Sydney’s favorite Fall/Winter drinks is hot apple cider; I buy it by the gallons. This past Saturday I awoke to snow and the temperature had fallen 25 degrees (quite common for Colorado). I bought 4 gallons of apple cider, yes, I went a tad overboard. We had just finished baking Pumpkin Pillows for a friend, when I found myself staring at a can of pumpkin and 4 gallons of apple cider, I thought how can I use both ingredients, Apple-Pumpkin Cupcakes. I must admit Thanksgiving Dinner was the inspiration for these cupcake minus the spiders. We alway bake yam cups with Calvados; pumpkins and yams are in the same family.
Sydney wasn’t as enthusiastic about the combination; pumpkin is not her favorite flavor. The challenge was to have the cupcake taste like apple cider with just a hint of pumpkin. I reminded her how she loved the yam cups and she reminded me she adores yams not pumpkins. I convinced her to try my idea and if she didn’t care for the cupcakes we wouldn’t create them again.
275 grams/ 9 ½ egg whites
180 grams/ ¾-cup apple cider
375 grams/ 3 5/8-cup cake flour
20 grams/ 1½-Tablespoon baking powder
400 grams/ 2-cups sugar
132 grams/ 1/2-cup milk
61 grams/ ¼-cup can pumpkin
180 grams/ 1½ sticks or 6 ounces butter
Prepare your mise en place, spray and line 2 muffin pans. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl combine egg whites, 180 grams/ ¾ -cup apple cider and vanilla.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment, sift all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just to blend. Add the butter, 61 grams/ 1/4-cup pumpkin and 132 gram/1/2 –cup milk. Continue to mix on low speed till the dry ingredients are moistened, raise the speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides and gradually add the apple cider mixture in thirds, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
Using a medium size ice cream scoop, fill the cupcakes. This is the easiest way to be sure all the apple-pumpkin cupcakes are the same size.
Gently tap the muffin pans against the counter to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed in the center.
Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 5 minutes.
Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
180 grams/ 5 egg whites (large)
Pinch egg white powder
10 grams/ 3/4-Tablespoon super fine sugar
Pinch of salt
200 grams/ 1-cup extra-fine granulated sugar, plus 10 grams
59 grams/ ¼-cup cold water
341 grams/ 3 sticks unsalted butter, soften and cubed
Prepare your mise en place.
In a heavy bottom saucepan over medium-high heat add water and pour sugar into the middle of the water swirl till combined. Bring the sugar syrup to a boil and continue to heat till the syrup reaches 160ºC/240ºF
Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment. On medium speed, add egg white powder, and salt, beat till soft peaks form. Gradually add 10 grams of sugar to the egg whites, continue to beat on medium speed till stiff peaks begin to form.
Reduce the speed to medium and carefully with the mixer running pour the hot syrup, in a steady stream, onto the cloud of egg whites. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat till stiff and glossy.
After 1 to 2 minutes reduce the mixer speed to medium for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled. Add the butter, 1 cube at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 2 minutes, or until you have smooth buttercream. I have created Italian buttercream more times than I can count, and still every time I panic when the meringue breaks. I promise if you raise the mixer speed and watch it, it will turn to buttercream before your eyes.
Pipe the cupcake with a 1M tube/tip or a large open star tip, starting at the outside of the cupcake, turn the cupcake as you pipe towards the center. Use the same amount of pressure till you reach the center, release the pressure and lift.
The spiders are prepare with black fondant and red icing sugar, I will go into detail in another post.
When the apple-pumpkin cupcakes were finished, Sydney enjoyed the flavor of the cupcakes; I hope you will too!