I had a quarterly lunchtime get-together with some friends, and we all brought food. So that's my excuse this time around. That said, everyone flipped over these cupcakes, and insisted that I share the recipe.
True to form for me, there is no single-page recipe for this: I took a regular cake recipe, added applesauce and spices to it, filled it with something complimentary I had in the cupboard, and made my favorite frosting, using cream cheese in it this time.
If you have a copy of The Chameleon Cook, the plain (yellow) cake recipe is on page 74, and the frosting recipe is on pages 76 (Boiled Milk Frosting) and 78 (Cloud Frosting variation). I made a half batch of frosting; it ran out on cupcake #19. If you like a lot of frosting, especially when it's fluffy, creamy, and not too sweet, make the full batch. If you like a strong cream cheese flavor, instead of using 2 sticks (8 oz.) butter and 8 oz. cream cheese, decrease the butter to 1 stick (4 oz.) and add an extra 4 oz. cream cheese (total 12 oz.) To make it even more rich, reduce milk to 1/2 cup, Ultra Gel or flour down to 2 Tbsp, and sugar down to 1/2 cup.
Take any white or yellow cake recipe, or a boxed mix.
Use the same ingredients and instructions as the recipe or box says, except:
Add 1 cup applesauce or pumpkin puree to it, and reduce the liquid the recipe calls for by 1/2 cup (this means reduce the milk to 3/4 cup if you're using my recipe)
Applesauce or pumpkin puree, for cooking purposes, acts like about 50 % water.
Stir in any or all of these spices: using all of them gives a full, round flavor, but if you only have cinnamon, it'll still be good:
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger, or 1 Tbsp. grated fresh, or 1-2 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger :-)
3/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
If you like, also add 1/2 c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, and/or 1/2 c. raisins
Bake according to regular instructions.
When cool, add filling if you like. I used Dulce de Leche, thinned with enough water that the caramel didn't hold its shape anymore (maybe 2 Tbsp. water to 3/4 c. caramel). But use whatever you have or can make, such as homemade or jarred caramel sauce, unwrapped caramels melted with milk or water (try 1 Tbsp. milk/water for each 10 caramels). If you have a decorating bag with a tip, you can fill the bag with caramel, poke the tip down into the cupcake, and squeeze the bag until the cupcake swells with the filling. I have a bag, but didn't want to mess with it this time. The other way I fill cupcakes is by cutting out a cone-shaped section from the top of the cupcake. Lift it up, put a spoonful of filling in the hole, and replace the top of the cupcake. Frosting the cupcakes will hide those surgery marks. See the photos below.