I have more than hundred recipes on the blog but there is not a single cupcake recipe. I never imagined that I will ever publish a cupcake recipe but here I am with a cupcake recipe. 
I have never been appealed by these little cakes and I have never understood the hype. Cupcakes look pretty most of the time, sometimes kitschy, but the taste of cupcakes are often disappointing. They are too sweet, the cakes are often dry and the frosting is not my cup of tea as well. 
Nevertheless, a few years ago I made my first cupcakes which were raspberry cupcakes but I was not impressed. The cupcakes were too sweet for my liking and I am not the biggest fan of a frosting that consists only of a lot of powdered sugar and butter. 

My second cupcake attempt was last summer. I made Black Forest G√Ęteau cupcakes for my brother's birthday party in order to please a big crowd. These cupcakes were a big hit at the party which I was happy about but the importantly  I was pleased with the cupcakes  which were filled with a cherry compote and the frosting was a buttercream that was made of a custard and butter. Inspired by these Black Forest cupcakes I created cupcakes that reflects this beautiful fall season: chocolate cakes with caramelized walnuts, an apple filling flavored with cinnamon, cloves and tonka bean and a vanilla custard buttercream frosting. Doesn't it mouth-watering? They really taste heavenly. 
My own cupcake creation marked my third time making cupcakes (well, I made these cupcakes four (!) times). Maybe cupcakes are not so bad after all.

NOTES:I often make the apple compote in big batches and have this on yogurt or porridge in the morning. It is also a good way to use up windfall apples. And your home will smell incredible. 
I like tusing tonka beans in desserts but I know it is not the most common ingredients and in some countries tonka bean is forbidden. Tonka bean taste a little bit like vanilla, so you can replace the tonka bean with a vanilla bean. 
I made big cupcakes ( 4 cm / 1.5 inches height, 8cm / 3 inches with, 5 cm / 2 inches length) but of course you can make petite cupcakes which I think would be great for a party. 




Makes 5-6 (big) cupcakes, see my note above

Caramelized Walnuts

  • 25 g / 4 tablespoons walnuts
  • 25 g / 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • Roughly chop the walnuts. 
  • Place powdered sugar and chopped walnuts in the frying pan. Over low medium heat caramelize the walnuts, stir frequently. When the walnuts are golden in color place them on a parchment paper lined board. Let the walnuts cool. Chop the caramelized walnuts if the walnut chunks are too big. 

Frosting

  • 100 ml / 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 15 g / 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 50 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 75 g / 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft and cut into cubes
  • Pour milk into a saucepan. 
  • Split vanilla pod lenghtwise and scrape out the seeds (use the tip of your knife or the dull side of the knife). Add the vanilla seeds and the empty vanilla pod to the milk. Bring vanilla milk to a soft simmer. Set aside and remove the empty vanilla pod. 
  • Whisk egg yolk and sugar until well combined, then add corn starch and whisk until smooth. Slowly pour the hot vanilla milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk. 
  • Pour the mixture back to the saucepan and over medium heat - whisk continuously - bring to a boil. You will notice that the custard thickens. Cook the custard for one minute, continue to stir. Now you should have a thick custard. Remove saucepan from the stove. Cover the surface with clingwrap which prevents skin forming. Let cool completely (it takes about one hour).When the custard is completely cooled, give it a good stir. Then add little by little butter to the custard and mix (use a standing or electric mixer) until it is a smooth. 
  • Fill the buttercream into a piping bag, use a size star nozzle (size 5 mm / 0.2 inches), and let the buttercream chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or longer.

Cake

  • 50 g / 3 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
  • 25 g / 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50 g dark chocolate / 3.5 ounzes (65 % -70 %)
  • 45 g / 1/2 cup pastry flour, sifted
  • 5 g / 2 teaspoons unsweetened raw cacao, sifted
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 160 °C / 320 °F.
  • Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler. 
  • Beat butter and powdered sugar until creamy, Add a pinch of salt and one egg yolk at a time and mix until well combined. Add melted chocolate to the mixture. 
  • Mix flour, cacao powder and chopped caramelized walnuts in a separate bowl. 
  • Whisk egg whites until almost stiff, add sugar gradually and continue to whisk until completely stiff.
  • Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the mixture and mix well. Fold flour mixture and the rest of the beaten egg whites into the mixture. 
  • Fill the batter into the cupcake cases. Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes or if you insert a toothpick and it comes out clear the cakes are done.
  • Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack.

Apple Compote

  • 150 g / 1 1/4 cups peeled and cored apples, cut into small cubes
  • 15 g / 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 of a tonka bean, grated or 1/4 vanilla bean (see my note above)
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Cinnamon stick, 3 cm / 1 inch 
  • 2 cloves
  • Combine all ingredients and about 100 ml water in a pot. If your apples are very sour you might add a little bit more sugar. Cook the apple mixture over low medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the apples are very soft. You might need to add a little more water while the apple mixture is cooking. 
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Let the mixture cool completely. 

Assembling  Cupcakes

  • Cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake. Fill the holes of each cupcake with the apple filling. I like a lot of apple filling in the cupcakes. so I cut out big cones. 
  • Place the cones (the tip of the cone pointing upwards) in the middle of each cupcakes. 
  • Frost the cupcakes with the vanilla buttercream. 
  • Decorate cupcakes with walnut halves which I caramelized. 
  • Store cupcakes in the fridge until consumption.