As a child raised on Mammy’s cooking in Gone with the Wind, Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes, and my grandmother’s pralines, it’s really no wonder once I started writing what came out was flavored with okra, squash casserole, and buttercream frosting. My debut novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, is set in the North Carolina mountains and is about Amber Vaughn’s dreams of singing on bigger stages. But it’s also about family, and Amber’s mama is one heck of a good Southern cook.
She’s famous for her apple spice cake. It’s what made Amber’s daddy start flirting with her and what keeps all of Amber’s friends coming around begging for another slice.
But since it’s the holidays and time for finger foods and office gatherings, I thought we’d put Mama’s apple spice cake in cupcake form. These tasty treats are almost muffin-like without the brown sugar frosting. I think that’s due to the fresh apple that goes in the batter giving them a bit of extra heft, so they’d be good plain. But the slight crunch of the brown sugar and half of pecan nestled on top of the creamy butter frosting is worth the extra calories! Enjoy.
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes Bake Time: 15-18 minutes Makes: 20 cupcakes
Apple Spice Cupcakes:
¼ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
½ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all spice
2 medium/large apples, cored, peeled and grated
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
Pecan halves, optional for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until well blended. Mix in applesauce and vanilla.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off. In a separate medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; mix well.
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; mixing at low speed until well blended. Beat at medium speed 1 minute. Stir in grated apples.
Spoon cupcake batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool completely and frost with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Top with chopped walnuts, if desired.
In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Mix in brown sugar mixing until well blended. Add confectioner’s sugar, mixing until blended.