Caramel apple cupcakes

by Sue Ready

“Autumn — the year’s last, loveliest smile.” — William Cullen Bryan

Enjoy some of your favorite fall flavors with a hearty and healthy vegetarian roasted butternut squash and apple soup. Roasting squash and apples together add a depth of flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. The soup is elegant enough for a dinner party as a soup course, served in mini soup bowls for your next tapa party or as a main course with artisan bread and a fruit salad.

Roasted butternut squash and apple soup

Cook’s notes: A time saver is buying pre-cut butternut squash cubes. For this recipe I worked on streamlining the multiple steps by roasting most of the ingredients ahead which also adds more flavor to the soup. This soup tastes even better on the second day after the  flavors meld. Recipe makes 4 small bowls.

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups small cubed butternut squash

1 large Granny Smith apple, diced

3/4 cup each diced carrots and onions

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 TB. olive oil and 1 TB. maple syrup

1/4 tsp. each curry, ground ginger, thyme

1/2 tsp. each Saigon cinnamon and celery seeds

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low salt, low sodium)

1-1/2 TB. brown sugar or honey

1/4 cup half and half or cream

Garnish roasted pumpkin seeds, bacon bits or pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad.

Mix spices and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl add chopped butternut squash, diced apples, carrots and onions,

Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.

Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet. Sprinkle with spices. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir and cook 4 minutes longer.

Add roasted mixture to soup pot, pour in chicken broth, add in brown sugar or honey, whisk to combine.

On low heat bring soup to a boil. Cook 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender, food processor or blender and puree ingredients 1 cup at a time.

Add pureed mixture back to soup pot, adding in half and half and cook 15 minutes longer but do not let mixture boil.

 

Caramel apple cupcakes

Cook’s notes: Recipe makes 14 cupcakes and adapted from tasteandtellblog.com

Cooking tip: Substitute 1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice for the allspice, nutmeg, cloves measurement.

Cupcake Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup milk

2 cups chopped tart apples (I used one large Granny Smith and 1 large Honey Crisp)

Frosting Ingredients:

3 cups powered sugar

1/4 cup caramel sauce with sea salt (prepared jar found in ice cream section)

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 TB. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 teaspoon maple extract

Milk or half and half if needed for spreading consistency 

Finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and cloves.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined. Add half of the milk, mix, then 1/2 of the remaining flour, the remaining milk and then the remaining flour, beating in-between additions. Stir in the chopped apples.

Divide the mixture between the prepared cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until the center springs back when touched, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Twice a month The Seasonal Plate food column will highlight dishes inspired by the changing seasons. My passion for travel, poetry, writing, exploring new cuisines, trying recipes and cooking  have been inspiration for the recipes I have published on my blog http://www.sockfairies.blogspot.com.

Questions/comments at: theseasonalplate@outlook.com

Sue Ready is a writer, poet and former middle school teacher. She is the president of the Northwoods Arts Council in Hackensack. Sue publishes monthly dog stories called The World According to Bella at http://www.wwnrockport.com/

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