Brony Tested, Brony Approved: Apple Pie SURPRISE! Cupcakes
I have considered on several occasions to take this recipe down. I invented it for my (now ex-) fiance who is a Brony. Except he became so obsessed with Pony roleplay on Twitter that he began cheating on me a few months after I made these for him.
Last year I began this blog when I finally realized that no one was going to help pull me out of my depression (brought on by the rapid succession of deaths of my father and grandfather, loss of my dream job, and familial problems). No, not even my fiance was willing to help. He wanted it to just go away. He told me my depression was “bullshit” and I should “just get over it.” So I tried. Alone.
I made all the meals for about 8 months, tried encouraging him to exercise because he said he didn’t want to get married until he lost weight, bought him high-expense items like an iPad, iPod, netbook, and Nintendo DS XL, I paid for trips to Blizzcon, even paid for car repairs and a year worth of his car insurance. And I often made treats like these cupcakes.
His response? Despite the fact that I made filet mignon and grilled salmon and other healthy, tasty meals, he told me that he wanted Chick-Fil-A because he wanted “real food.” He screamed at me that “exercise sucks and people who like exercise are stupid.” He made promises to reciprocate but never followed through. Because he USED to cook for me, and because he paid the rent, that apparently should have been good enough. He never showed interest in getting married. According to him, *I* was witholding affection (because I wasn’t ALSO spreading my legs for him like his Pony roleplay friends were willing to do), and *I* was “such a downer” that I guess to him it justifies the cheating. He has never accepted any responsibility for the break-up, and has laid the blame completely at my feet.
I made these cupcakes for my ex to show I cared for him and his interests. I cooked his meals and tried to encourage him to get healthy because I wanted to marry him. Depression killed my sex drive, but I had no energy left for it anyway when I was getting nothing in return. And apparently he found that enough reason to cheat, but didn’t even have the balls to break up with me. Why would he when he didn’t want to give up his personal chef/ATM? Or to put it in Pony terms: Why buy the apple tree when you get the apples for free?
Please understand: I don’t blame MLP:FiM, I don’t blame Bronies, and I know there are good Bronies out there. I grew up collecting Ponies (I still have my G1 ponies) and I think the show has good messages. Well, here’s the message of this story:
Don’t be like my ex. If you know someone or live with someone who is suffering depression, please take the messages of the show to heart. Educate yourself on ways to deal with depression. Try to understand it, but don’t lecture them on what they “should or should not be feeling.” You’re not in their shoes. Talk to the person. Work with them. Show them love and support. They’re not trying to make YOUR life difficult…in fact, it’s not about YOU. You can tell a depressed person that you love and care for them, but if they don’t believe it it’s usually because they can’t find anything about themselves to love. “How could you or anyone love and care for me if I can’t love myself?” is what goes through a depressed person’s mind. SHOW them you love them, and show them what they have to love about themselves. And KEEP showing them because they need to hear it.
As I mentioned, originally I thought about removing this recipe. That that didn’t feel right.
I came up with this recipe to show love, so I want people to continue making these cupcakes. I want you to make them with love in your hearts, and when you serve them to loved ones I hope they know what care went into making them.
And now back to the original post…
Ktok is a HUGE Brony. Maybe even moreso than I am. (Even though I STILL have my early-80′s collection of ponies boxed up back at home. Sunbeam was my first. ^_^) When he found out that July 15th has been officially dubbed “Brony Appreciation Day” he got all excited about what he wanted to do for it.
Well, watching the show has given me a MAD craving for cupcakes.
I know this goes against the idea of being a weight loss blog, but I believe that losing weight is a lifestyle. And one of the tenets that I follow is “Everything in moderation.” So instead of making huge cakes for dessert where you can’t–okay, you CAN, but usually DON’T–really control your portions, I’ve discovered the joy of cupcakes. Single-serving, feeds that craving, and the rest can be given away! …if you feel like it, that is. Between the two of us, a dozen cupcakes is all we need and can serve as dessert for almost an entire week.
The other thing that watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has done to me, cravings-wise, is that it ignited a MAJOR apple craving. I have always loved apples, but I just can’t get enough of them right now. On the plus side since I don’t have apple fritters, apple pies, apple cobbler, etc. in the house, it means I usually reach for an actual apple. Hey! Healthy! (My favorite are the Cripps Pink/Pink Lady apples.)
But once in a while you have a situation that calls for something special. Hey, I don’t laugh at you for what you deem a special occasion!
Alas, I had a hard time finding an apple cupcake recipe that made me think of the cupcakes you see in the show. I really wanted a cupcake that evoked the flavor of an apple pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top. I really love the sweet-tart taste of Granny Smith apples in pies (my mom made a KILLER apple pie using Granny Smith apples), and decided to work with this idea: A basic cupcake with a hint of cinnamon (much like a crust), filled with sweet-tart apple, topped with whippy apple icing. So how to make one?
I decided to adapt a lemon cupcake recipe that seemed to fit what I was going for. I remember when I was little we could find Granny Smith apple juice concentrate (the frozen cans that you’d mix with water to make juice), but couldn’t find it at two different stores so I embellished the tartness with some lemon zest and a touch of lemon juice. If you’d prefer a less tangy cupcake, just leave out the extra lemon and/or just use regular apple juice concentrate. Basically buy a can of the juice, open it, put it in a bowl, and let it melt. Don’t add any water. Voila! There’s your apple flavoring.
These cupcakes have three parts: The curd, the cupcake, and the frosting. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes, but since I was experimenting I halved it to only make 12.
The curd (filling)
1 c sugar
6 egg yolks
Apple juice concentrate (about 1/2 c, thawed)
1 stick butter, cubed
1 tsp lemon zest (optional – to make tangy if you can’t find Granny Smith juice concentrate)
Food coloring (optional – I was thinking in terms of “sour apple” so I made mine green)
- Stir egg yolks and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add apple juice and zest (optional). Add food coloring (also optional) to desired shade.
- Stir constantly until curd thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
- Add in cubed butter and stir until it melts. The curd should be smooth.
- If desired, pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps, and then pour into a storage container or bowl.
- Press plastic wrap against the surface and place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the cupcakes.
2 1/4 c cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 1/4 c milk
1 1/2 c sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp apple juice concentrate
- Preheat oven to 350 F and line two cupcake pans with liners.
- In a large mixing bowl (the one that will ultimately hold your batter) mix the cinnamon and sugar. I put these ingredients into the bowl of our standing mixer and just turned it on while I mixed the other ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together egg whites and milk.
- Add butter into the sugar mixture and beat until it is light and crumbly.
- Beat in vanilla extract and apple juice concentrate into the sugar/butter mixture.
- Add in flour and egg mixtures, alternating half at a time, until the batter is well-blended.
- Pour batter into cupcake liners. There should be enough to fill the liners about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack. (You can start making the frosting during the baking/cooling process so frosting the cupcakes will follow the filling process.)
- I used a sharp, pointed knife to cut a small “core” out of the center of each cupcake once they were cooled, and set the cored pieces aside. Using a piping bag with a large tip, pipe the cooled curd into the center of each cupcake, being careful to not fill them too full.
- Break off the top of the cores, using them as a “lid” for the cupcakes to cover the curd. Feel free to eat the soft leftover cupcake bits. Yum! You may also have leftover curd. Not as fun to eat with a spoon, so I may be making some mini apple tartlets soon. Or who knows? Maybe some more cupcakes!
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
4 c powdered sugar
4-5 Tbsp apple juice concentrate (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional – to taste)
1 tsp lemon zest (optional – to taste)
Food coloring (optional – Again, I was going for a “Granny Smith” flavor, so I chose green)
- Cream together the butter and shortening.
- Beat in the apple juice. If you choose to add them, beat in the lemon juice and zest too.
- Gradually beat in the powdered sugar, half-cups at a time.
- Add food color to desired color.
- Once the frosting is at your desired whippiness, put into a piping bag with your desired tip (I used a big tip) and frost your cupcakes, being sure to cover the plug where the curd was piped in.
- Decorate with sprinkles or whatever suits your fancy. I found a Disney Princess assortment of cake decors that had little apples to represent Snow White. Perfect!
This was my first time making a fruit curd, making cupcakes from scratch, and making frosting/piping it on. It actually was pretty easy! And let me tell you, I will NEVER frost cupcakes with a knife again! Piping was just so convenient!
I still would have preferred to find the Granny Smith frozen juice concentrate. The flavor that I managed to make is that of a sweet-tart apple, but I can definitely taste the lemon with the apple. It tastes more like a sour apple candy than a Granny Smith apple. I LIKE sour apple candy, so I’m not complaining, but just a warning for those who might expect that perfect Granny Smith taste. I might go plain next time, just to see how else I can experiment with it. Apple pie à la mode cupcakes for the holidays (Apple-cinnamon filling with apple-vanilla frosting)? Yes, please!
I should have cooked the curd a little longer. It was thick, but not as thick as it should have been. It kinda ran out the bottom of my piping bag/tip. Well, oozed out. It didn’t affect the cupcake I ate the first night I made them (see pic above), but I don’t know if it will affect the rest of the batch after they sit a while.
If it’s not obvious, use the egg whites that you separated from the yolks when you made the curd. But be sure to measure out the whites that you need. As for the rest…well, if you’re going to be baking for a while, why not make yourself an omelet or something to tide you over so you don’t end up on the couch with the bowl of uncooked cupcake batter and a large spoon?
Using a standing mixer made this incredibly easy. I used it to make the cupcake batter, then washed it, dried it, and used it again to make the frosting. By the time the frosting was done, the cupcakes were cool and ready to fill so assembly was one easy step.
However, I also discovered that vegetable shortening can go bad. Can you tell we don’t use it much? It was a good thing I had the foresight to buy a fresh can. My first batch of frosting tasted and smelled like it was made with petroleum jelly. I had to toss it and start over again. Eew!
All in all, this was a fun experiment and I’m pleased with the result. Happy Brony Appreciation Day, everyone!