Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Leaves
You know what I love about the fall season? Baking. And, for southern Californians (or maybe just my family), it’s finally time to wear shoes again (maybe even pants). And, put on an apron because baking season is here!
All summer long I’ve hated turning on my oven. If it can’t be barbecued or put in the Instant Pot, I’m just too hot and tired to even think about it. But when fall finally rolls around and the misty mornings get cooler and cooler, I start to eye those bushels of apples at the farmers market and dream of spices.
My favorite way to bake with apples is a simple butter cake (I love this Cinnamon Apple Muffins recipe from Add a Pinch) with diced apples folded in gently with a bunch of spices (cinnamon, cardamon, ginger…add them all!). The apples hold their shape through baking but caramelize into meltable bites of tart juiciness that are perfectly delightful. Not a bad breakfast idea if I do say so myself.
But I top these yummy humble muffins with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting (from Cupcake Project) for extra yumminess and add a piped chocolate leaf (see instructions below) for decoration.
Piping chocolate is much easier than it looks. I’ve always been intimidated by chocolate until my aunt told me that whatever the chocolate form is at room temperature is what it will be after it’s melted and hardened again. So that means chocolate chips can be melted and piped and then hardened again just like they were as chocolate chips. Of course this is if you don’t screw up and somehow overcook it or get unwanted moisture in your chocolate by accident. But with a few simple steps you can avoid those pitfalls.
If you are familiar with double boiling chocolate you can skip these steps but I found them super helpful to get over my fear of working with chocolate.
How to Pipe Chocolate
1) First melt your chocolate in a heat safe bowl over a simmering pot of water (not boiling but just about to boil). Make sure that your bowl covers the pot completely and be careful not to accidentally get water into your chocolate. That will cause the chocolate to seize up.
2) Stir it briskly but don’t over stir. The chocolate will melt and become silky.
3) Once it’s nice and consistently silky and there are no more chocolate chip shapes, remove it from the heat.
4) Wait a few minutes and then carefully spoon it into a ziplock bag. I found it’s easiest to put the bag into a glass, roll the edges over the outside of the glass and then spoon the chocolate inside.
5) Seal the bag (letting any air out before) and then cut the tip off one of the corners of your bag. You don’t need an icing bag or a fancy piping tip but you can use them of course if you have them.
How to Make Piped Chocolate Leaves
1) Place a piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and pipe your leaves onto the parchment paper. You can do this freehand if you’re talented like that or use my handy template as a guide. Work quickly (but steadily) and don’t stress too much about your leaves being perfect. They’ll look really cute when you are done and they’ll taste amazing.
2) Pop them in the freezer for half an hour until they have hardened.
3) When they are ready, take them out of the freezer and gently peel each leaf off the parchment paper and place on top of your cinnamon-cream-cheese frosted spiced-apple muffins!
They are sure to be a show-stoppingly good to look at and taste just as amazing.
You could just take my word for it or you could hop to it and make some yourself! I think autumn calls for it.