Culinary Canvas: Apple Pie Cupcakes

This month’s recipe is inspired by our wonderful Pointillist painting by Pissarro, Apple Harvest. I imagine this painting, like most apple picking, takes place in the fall. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still bountiful varieties of apples to be had at this time of year–just check your local grocery store! And one of our very own McDermott Interns–whose favorite dessert is apple pie–just happened to have a birthday last week. But much like the Neo-Impressionists, I wanted to do my own thing. So I decided on an apple pie inspired cupcake, which combines apples and spice into a scrumptious handheld bite. Try these out for your next holiday get together and impress your friends with your artistic hand. Happy Holidays!

Camille Pissarro, Apple Harvest, 1888, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

Camille Pissarro, Apple Harvest, 1888, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

Apple Pie Cupcakes

Yields 24 cupcakes
Level: Moderate


2 Jonagold (or similar) apples, diced small
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons caramel sauce (left over from last month’s recipe)

In medium saucepan, melt butter and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add diced apples and sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are soft and lightly caramelized. Remove from heat and stir in caramel sauce. Set aside to cool. Note: 2 tablespoons sugar can be substituted for caramel sauce.


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and both sugars, beating at medium speed until light. Add vanilla and continue beating at medium speed. Incorporate eggs one at a time, mixing until fully combined.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Beginning and ending with dry ingredients, slowly add flour mixture to mixer, alternating with milk. After each addition, mix on low speed until just incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Divide batter into muffin cups, filling each cup slightly more than ½ full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with sparse crumbs. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then transfer to metal rack to cool completely.


½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
½ cup shortening
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Splash of milk as needed

Beat butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, mixing on low until combined. Add splash of milk and additional sugar as needed to achieve thickened, slightly firm consistency.

Assembly: Fill quart size Ziploc bag with frosting. Squeeze frosting to one corner and snip to create opening. Outline the rim of each cupcake with a line of frosting. Place a spoonful of apple filling in the middle of each cupcake. Cross filling with lines of additional frosting in a basket weave pattern, mimicking pie crust.

Store finished cupcakes in refrigerator until ready to serve.



Recipe adapted from Alpineberry.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

2 Responses to “Culinary Canvas: Apple Pie Cupcakes”

  1. 1 Melissa Gonzales December 27, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Those are so cute!

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