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Apple Caramel Cupcakes

It’s 2am. I’m perched before my computer in the shadows, my face illuminated only by the sickly glow of the monitor. My eyes, heavy like a million suns, desperately struggle to remain alert. Amongst piles of notes, papers (and at least 40 tabs open in Safari) sits a solitary tub of Nutella. From my mouth hangs a chocolate-stained spoon. Sanity in a jar. Sweet, hazelnutty stress relief.

Okay, I’m not the most poetic of writers so I’ll just draw the scene for you instead.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

So amongst the chaos that have been the past three weeks (taking photos, essay writing, picture editing, interning, event snapping, illustrating, etc etc!) my dad asked yesterday if I could make something for his fundraising morning tea at work for tomorrow. WHERE WILL I FIND THE TIME TO DO THIS?! Oh dad, it’s lucky this is for a charity event and there’s no way I could possibly say no to you, lord knows how much I love to bake for a good cause and help you out.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

I remember seeing this style of decorating around the internet, I’m sure if you google “apple cupcakes” some similar looking treats will appear. I just winged it (this is the first time I’ve ever used fondant, ahh) but if anybody knows the original instructions to transforming the humble cupcake into a sparkling faux-apple please let me know so I can link it!

I Instagramed this earlier today as I didn’t think I’d have the time (or daylight, rather) to photograph + blog which explains why I have no detailed/photographed instructions re: the assembly so I drew something stupid for your viewing pleasure instead. This recipe makes 12 adorable cupcakes.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Apple Caramel Cupcakes
(an original recipe)

Caramel apple
1 large apple, chopped into small pieces
20g butter
30g brown sugar

Cake batter
100g butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
30g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
170g (1 1/2 cups) flour
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon

150g butter, room temperature
350g (3 cups) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs milk
Red and green food colouring (I used gel)

Red and green sanding sugar
1 Flake
Green food colouring

For the caramel apple
1. In a small frying pan melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Add chopped apples and stir until sauce has reduced and caramelised nicely. The apples should just be beginning to tender. Remove from heat and place in a heatproof bowl to cool.

For the cake batter
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Beat butter until it begins to cream and pale. Add the sugars and continue to beat until combined and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating and incorporating well after each addition. Add the flour, milk, baking powder and cinnamon and once again beat until completely combined. Stir in the caramel apple pieces.
3. Spoon batter into a prepared cupcake tin with liners. Place in oven and bake for aound 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream
1. Beat butter until it begins to cream and pale. Add icing sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy. Add milk until an ideal consistency is reached; it should be firm yet spreadable. Divide buttercream in half and add red colouring to one portion and green to the other.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

For the assembly
1. Prepare fondant with green food colouring. Take a small piece and roll into a ball in the palm of your hand. Flatten into an oval shape and, with the back of a knife, score the piece vertically down the middle. Add a few additional, horizontal scores. Curl the leaf slightly, pinch its edges and allow to sit to return to room temperature.
2. Ice your cupcakes ensuring its entire surface is covered. Dip cupcakes into a bowl of sanding sugar ensuring the buttercream can no longer be seen. Gently break up the flake bar and insert a pice into each cupcake as the twig. Add the fondant leaves with a little buttercream to ensure they will stay put.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Okay, that was a nice distraction, I must now to finish this essay by midnight and it’s not going to write itself. Wish me luck!!

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Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

A few weeks ago I received the sweetest delivery; some darling Pink Ladies from Aussie Apples! So this is a somewhat delayed post due to the unfortunate demise of my mandolin. RIP, old, orange friend! I’ve had to wait a couple of weeks to acquire a new one. It’s so super fancy, so fancy in fact that it nearly cut my finger off. Awww yeah.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

Resisting the urge to transform these apples into some kind of dessert (because I really ought to grow up and get my savoury on a little more often) I thought… h’ordeuvres are cool, right? Wonderfully miniature food you can knock back in one mouthful. So, what pairs well with apple? Pork! Ohh, but the whole pulled pork thing is so overdone these days. Why don’t I throw some roasted apple in there to mix it up a bit? Hmm. No. WAIT! I’ll place the pork ON THE APPLE AS LITTLE, EDIBLE PLATES AND IT WILL BE GREAT! And lord knows I love making fruity crisps. And so it was done. Well, the pork was… then my mandolin broke… so I had to wait, my mind heavy with h’ordeuvre love for a few weeks.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

Last time I prepared pulled pork I doused my slow-cooker with beer, which was awesome, but incredibly rich. I considered a 50/50 combination of beer and apple juice until I realised cider would be a much better idea. Thankfully I have a few bottles of homebrewed cider sitting in my room. It’s… not the greatest tasting beverage (why did I use a dry wine yeast to make a fruity cider?!) but it’s ultra-tang makes it very special for cooking. Salty, cidery pork with a sweet, crunchy, apple aftertaste is my idea of fantastic treat.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

I can’t wait to make this for a super funtime party soon. This should make around 60 pieces.

Slow Cooked Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps
(an original recipe)

Apple crisp
3 apples

Cider pulled pork
600g pork chops or shoulder
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs paprika
2 tbs cumin
2 tbs crushed coriander seeds
1 diced onion
1 cup apple cider
1 tbs mustard
2 tbs chili flakes (optional)
1 tsp dried thyme
Splash of worcestershire sauce
Splash of soy sauce
Olive oil

A few spinach leaves
Dried thyme
Chili flakes (optional)

For the apple crisp
1. Slice apples on the thinest setting on a mandolin. Preheat oven to 80°C. Lay slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and allow to dehydrate in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, turning once halfway through. Once ready, remove from trays and allow to cool on wire racks.

NOTE: This can be done a day ahead. If you find the crisps a little on the limp side the following day you can always re-crisp them in the oven for a few minutes.

For the slow cooked cider pulled pork
1. Combine spices with a little salt and rub into pork pieces. Prepare your slow cooker with a splash of olive oil, and it if has a browning option, add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add pork pieces to brown. Add the cider and other ingredients, turn on the slow cooker option and leave to cook for 6 hours. Check every 1 1/2 hours to turn the pork.

2. Once the pork is tender and cooked through remove pork onto a chopping board and decant juices into a saucepan. Discard any bones. Place over medium-high heat and reduce until halved. Meanwhile, gently break up the pork with two forks (you don’t need to be too thorough) and place into the saucepan of reduced pork juice. Continue to stir and break up the meat until it has reduced a little more; you want the pork to be moist but not too soupy. Remove from heat.

NOTE: This can also be done a day ahead; once prepared from the slow cooker you can separate both meat and juice and refrigerate (or even freeze) for a couple of days until you’re ready. This also provides an opportunity to skim off any fat that may solidify on the surface.

For the assembly
1. Because the apple will curl slightly in the oven, place the crisps the right way up so they stand like a little bowl. Place a small, or a piece of, spinach leaf over the crisp to cover the gap where the core and seeds once were. Top with a generous pinch of pork followed by a sprinkling of dried thyme and chili flakes.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

Mouthfuls of pure happy, these are. I do hope you’re able to try them! GET SOME PORK ON YOUR FORK! And thank you again to Bite Communications and Aussie Apples for the apples. Support your local growers!

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Before I begin my usual selfish ramble about how wonderful food is I need to thank Diana of Diana’s Desserts for this incredible apple cider baked donut recipe. I’ve seen the term “Apple Cider Doughnuts” wafting about food blogs like crazy as of late but after some investigation I’ve found most of them seem to stem from this recipe. So thank you, Diana, this recipe is amazingly delicious for something so simple (and since I busted my handmixer the other day this recipe was an absolutely blessing to my unfortunate circumstance).

I’ve added my own garnishes to these lovelies (because what’s the fun in cooking straight from a recipe?); my simple apple cider glaze and apple bark. It’s important to use a good quality apple cider here as it is the only wetting agent for the glaze (so if you were considering using Strongbow kindly close this browser now :)). And as for my apple bark – this was a complete(ly successful) afterthought that went down a treat providing a welcomed crunchy tang.  You may want to organise this a few hours prior to baking your goods as it will need around 3 hours in the oven.

As you can see I’ve used donut pans, mini donut pans and a baby cupcake tin so in the spirit of concise headings I’ve umbrella’d these delicious gems under “baked goods”. This recipe does not discriminate against shape!



Apple cider baked goods (from Diana’s Desserts)

2 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/3 cup maple syrup (or maple flavoured syrup)

1/3 cup good quality apple cider

1/3 cup vanilla yoghurt

3 tbsp vegetable oil


Apple cider glaze

1 cup icing sugar mixture

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup good quality apple cider


Apple bark

1 apple

springkling of cinnamon

For the apple cider baked goods

1. Preheat oven 180°C.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. In another bowl combine wet ingredients; beaten egg, brown sugar, apple sauce, maple syrup, apple cider, yoghurt and vegetable oil. Give them a quick whisk then add your bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined.

4. Divide your mixture between pans/tins of your choosing. For a donut pan bake for 10 minutes, for mini donuts and baby cupcakes bake for 5-7 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.

5. After 5 minutes transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the apple glaze

1. Combine icing sugar, cinnamon and cider in a small bowl and stir well to remove any lumps.

For the apple bark (do this the morning before)

1. With a sharp vegetable peeler peel thin strips of apple, including the skins, and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

2. Bake in a cool oven (around 80-100°C) until completely dried, between 2 -3 hours. (If you are doing this day before you may need to re-crisp your apple bark for half an hour before assembling). Once dried, the apple skins will shrink and curl like little twigs. The apple strips will look like leaves.

For the assembly

1. Hold your baked good up-side-down and dip into the glaze. Shake of any excess and place back on the wire rack. Take a piece of apple bark and place on baked good while the glaze is still wet so it stays in place once dried. Continue with the rest of your donuts and baby cupcakes.

Bring these along to any dinner party and they will be very, very well received.

Trust me; I know from experience.

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Inspired by the impending Summer whilst witnessing Heston Blumenthal hurl an entire cherry pie into his creme anglaise on tv I thought – how hard could this be to create a pie-infused ice cream? The answer: NOT VERY. But perhaps I got lucky as this trial-and-error experiment came out pretttttty, pretty good.

Unfortunately the ice cream making process is nowhere near as exciting as Masterchef makes it out to be, no blast chiller means there’s a lot of time spent waiting so if you’re planning on having people over for an ice cream party I suggest you allow a day or two for everything to be prepared, lest you end up with a bowl of slushy, chunky custard. In the meantime however get your patient pants on and prepare a few garnishes like I have below.



1 cup milk

100 g sugar

2 egg yolks

1 medium sized apple pie (from your local bakery or frozen)

1 1/2 cup cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp ground cinnamon

CARAMEL SAUCE (adapted from the Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook)

70 g butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tbs golden syrup

1 tsp (heaped) cornflour

2 tbs cream


2 cups cornflakes

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbs corn syrup

For the icecream

1. Heat milk in a small saucepan while beating your egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. If the apple pie your using is frozen this is a good time to place it in the oven.

2. Once warmed, slowly pour the hot milk over the yolk/sugar mixture whilst stirring constantly. This is to temper your eggs.

3. Pour the mixture pack into the saucepan and heat, whilst stirring, until it becomes a thick custard. Ensure you do this slowly or you’ll end up with sugary scrambled eggs (eww).

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for half an hour. Add the vanilla, cream and stir to combine. Crumble your pie into the mixture.

5. Put in the refrigerator to cool overnight, or at least 6 hours.

6. The following day strain your mixture to separate the creme anglaise from the apple pie pieces. With a fork, mash the leftover apple pie pieces into a very vague puree and combine once again with creme anglaise. This is entirely optional but I find the pieces of pie in the ice cream create a lovely texture.

7. Prepare in ice cream maker as per manufacturer’s instructions.


For the caramel sauce

1. Combine butter and sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to bowl then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

2. Combine water, golden syrup and cornflour in a separate bowl. Add to brown sugar mixture and stir to combine. Bring to boil, reduce heat and summer for 2 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in cream.


For the candied cornflakes

1. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until combined and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add cornflakes. Stir until cornflakes are completely covered in syrup and turn out onto baking paper and allow to dry. Once dried, break into shards as a lovely garnish.


For the assembly

1. With a warm ice cream scoop, place a few spoons of ice cream in adorable bowls. Top with generous servings of caramel sauce and adorn with candied cornflakes.

And here I was thinking “transeasonal” was a term only used to describe fashion.

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