Autumn Apple Cupcakes + Cinnamon Frosting

This past weekend finally felt like Fall. While Shaun would prefer for the summer to never, ever end (he loves his shorts and flops and doesn’t mind the sweat-induced summer heat - me? I mind), I relish the cool breeze, multi-colored leaves and the spicy, warming flavors that autumn brings.

In case you didn’t know, I have a major crush on everything apple and everything pumpkin. And if you weren’t aware of this wild mild obsession, you’re about to find out with lots of delicious recipes during the upcoming months. When we were invited to a birthday party at Shaun’s aunt’s house, I couldn’t wait to devise the perfect culinary offering. Since the forecast was to be chilly, I decided that a healthy dose of autumn baked goods was in order. Enter apple cupcakes.

This uber moist cake is complete with autumn spices including nutmeg and cinnamon along with grated apples that add just a bit of crunch along with a major dose of flavor. Oh and the addition of the sweet cinnamon frosting is just the icing on, cake. But truly, these little cakes were like a bit of heaven - I’ve never gotten so many compliments on one of my baking creations before!

Autumn Apple Cupcakes
*Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice of one lemon
3 C shredded apples, I used 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with baking cups. I realized only too late that I only had 21 liners, not 24, so I buttered and floured those bad boys up and crossed my fingers that I’d be able to get my little delights out of the pan (spoiler alert: it worked!).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Meanwhile, grate your apples, after peeling and coring them up. Admittedly going through the motions of peeling and coring apples with just a paring knife was no doubt the lowlight of this entire process. I did, however, make grating them super simple by busting out the grater attachment on my food processor, which just made me happy and excited to use it. What can I say? Dorky things make me happy. Once grated, you will need to work quickly to prevent browning. Transfer the apples to a small bowl and mix in the lemon juice. Note: before adding the apples into your batter, you may want to drain them slightly or pat down with a paper towel. I did not do this and ended up with a lot of moisture at the bottom of my batter - something I would try to avoid next time.

In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the grated apples. Lastly, add in the flour mixture, slowly, so as not to shoot flour all over your pretty kitchen. Mix until just combined.

Fill muffin cups about half way and bake for about 18 minutes. Note: a toothpick will not come out clean on these uber moist muffins until it’s too late and they are burned. You will need to watch them and remove from oven once the tops are firm and spring back up when lightly pressed. Transfer to a wire rack and frost with cinnamon frosting once completely cooled.

And of course I just had to do an immediate taste test. You know, just to make sure they tasted ok. And no, I couldn't even wait for the frosting.

Cinnamon Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 C confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

In a mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese together. Slowly beat in the sugar, 1 cup at a time and mix until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and cinnamon and stir until combined. Frost apple cupcakes and resist the temptation to eat frosting by the spoonful (from experience, it doesn’t bode well for the stomach).

So what do you think? Are you a fan of fall flavors? If so, what's your poison? Or are you still lamenting the summer gone by?