Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes

Remember when I told you all about the 16 pounds of apples I brought home last weekend?  I was so excited to start baking with them – I can’t even begin to tell you.  Here’s the thing – it’s a lot harder to find good apple recipes than I expected…  Sure, there are the old standbys – applesauce, apple butter, apple pie, crisps/cobblers/etc and even apple cakes/muffins – but I want to find something new and different.  Last year I made apple cider donuts, which was both terrifying and really cool all at the same time.  Oh, and did I mention delicious?!  I’m still on the lookout for this year’s “it” recipe, and definitely open to any suggestions you might want to leave me in the comments :)

Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes

In the meantime, I came across this apple treat while scouring the internet for ideas.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a drink with amaretto in it, but I pretty much can’t resist baking with it.  Add some apples and streusel to the mix and I was sold!  For me, these straddle the line between cupcakes and muffins. The recipe labels them cupcakes and they’re made using the cake method (butter and sugar creamed, eggs added then dry and liquid ingredients added alternately) but they don’t include the dollop of frosting you might expect on a cupcake, instead substituting just a bit of glaze.  The texture also wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I like in my cupcakes, but it wasn’t dense like a muffin either – somewhere in the middle.  Both the apple and almond flavor are subtle but present.  I’ll probably increase the amount of apples slightly next time and maybe add a tiny bit of almond extract or amaretto to the glaze.  I enjoyed these best warmed just slightly and I would recommend not skipping the glaze – it’s easy to pull together and adds just the right finishing touch.

Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes
from Cooking Light

Streusel
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Cupcakes
6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons), softened
2 tablespoons amaretto
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup finely chopped Gala (or your favorite – I used Macintosh) apple
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Prepare the streusel by combining the flour, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal then stir in the almonds.  (You could also do this in a mini prep, which I find easier, even if it means more dirty dishes.)  Place the streusel in the fridge while you make the cupcake batter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy.  Add the amaretto, vanilla extract and egg to the bowl and beat at medium speed until well blended.  Combine the sour cream and milk in a measuring cup and whisk until completely blended.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the sour cream/milk combo to the mixer bowl, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating only until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.

Toss the chopped apple pieces with 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl.  Fold the apple mixture into the batter with a rubber spatula.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Remove the streusel from the fridge and sprinkle evenly over the cupcakes. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cupcakes from pan to cool completely on the rack.

To prepare the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until smooth.  Drizzle glaze over cupcakes.

Makes 12 cupcakes