Autumn, aka apple season, is one of my favourite times of year. I have fond memories of apple picking as a child and enjoyed sharing that traditional activity with my own kids when they were younger. These days, I head to my nearby farmers’ market to pick up baskets of freshly-picked apples throughout the fall. I love to make litres of pink-hued applesauce to tuck into the freezer, and I also love baking with apples. Pies and crisps are always devoured in my house but I got to thinking the other day that it was time to add a new apple dish to the repertoire. Now that Hallowe’en is almost here, I was reflecting on the decadent, delightful flavour of caramel apples and decided that recreating that taste in muffin form would be a delicious experiment. I was right. Enjoy!
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
* Note: if you don’t wish to make the caramels yourself, you can use 12 – 15 purchased caramels, unwrapped and cut into thirds.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup peeled, cored and coarsely chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Place sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed pot.
- Over medium heat, warm sugar until it melts.
- Swirl pot occasionally to ensure even heat distribution. The sugar will turn golden brown as it melts and caramelizes.
- When sugar is completely melted and golden, add butter. The mixture may foam up as the butter melts. Stir well.
- When butter is melted, add cream and stir well. Pour into a shallow baking dish (a loaf pan lined with parchment paper is good) and cool in the refrigerator until the sauce is solid enough to cut into one centimetre (1/3 inch) squares.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line muffin tins with paper baking cups. Use the parchment ones if you can find them – they are fantastic and much easier to peel off the muffins than the plain paper ones.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl or glass measure, melt butter over low heat. Cool slightly in fridge for 2 minutes then add egg, buttermilk and vanilla to butter in bowl. Stir to combine.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Fold in chopped apple and caramels.
- Fill baking cups ¾ full with batter.
- Sprinkle topping evenly over batter in cups.
- Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove tins from oven and let muffins cool in pan 5 minutes before removing.
- Let cool at least 5 more minutes before serving – if you can’t wait that long, just be careful of the hot, melted caramel inside the muffins.
Makes 12 muffins that freeze well. As if you’ll have any left to freeze…hah!