What pleasant thoughts get conjured up by a magazine feature entitled “Apple Delights”! Who doesn’t feel hopeful reading about a variety of ways with apples? Fall and the promises it holds suddenly feel a lot closer when a recipe for Caramel Apple Muffins sits on my kitchen counter with ingredients for it gathered.
Muffins from this recipe appeared on the cover of the September issue of Southern Living magazine. Darling little muffins that resemble real caramel apples, with a nut-sprinkled caramel glaze on top and little twig handles for decor, were so appealing, I had to bake them first thing.
A basic muffin batter with 2 cups diced apples fills muffin cups, with a cinnamon topping sprinkled on before all is baked. Once removed from the pan these muffins remain top-side down. You melt the caramels and dip the bottom side of the muffin surface (yes, I did a double-take on that one, too!) and then roll this surface in nuts. I decided to forego inserting sticks or twigs and enjoy these without the dress-up, but the idea is cute indeed.
Not long after those delicious-beyond-words muffins popped out of the oven, our part of the world experienced a refreshing cool spell that put everyone in a better state of mind. Fall and its promises and Caramel Apple Muffins—they make the heart sing.
Caramel Apple Muffins
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream (I used fat-free)
1 cup sugar (I used sugar substitute)
2 large eggs (I used egg substitute)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used salt substitute)
2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples
1 (14-ounce) package caramels
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 cup chopped lightly salted roasted pecans (I used walnuts)
food-safe twigs or craft sticks
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl prepare cinnamon topping by combining brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set topping aside. Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at a low speed with an electric mixer 30 seconds or until all is blended. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour-cream mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended. (Do not overmix.) Stir in diced apples. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 12-cup muffin pan. Fill muffin cups three-fourths full. Sprinkle with cinnamon topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center emerges clean. Immediately remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely (about 30 minutes). Microwave caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl at high 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Stir at 30-second intervals. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat muffins. Quickly dip bottom three-fourths of each muffin into caramel mixture; roll bottom half of caramel-coated portion of muffin in chopped nuts. Place muffins, caramel sides up, on lightly greased wax paper. (If caramel mixture begins to harden before you’ve dipped all the muffins, microwave mixture a few seconds to siften.) Insert food-safe twigs or craft sticks into caramel-covered portions of muffins. Makes 1 dozen muffins. (Source: Southern Living September 2012)