Warmly Spiced Caramel Apple Muffins

Caramel Apple Muffins2

Autumn and apples are two of my most favorite things so I decided to combine the flavors of fall with some of the fresh, crisp apples I picked at the orchard and my delicious Warmly Spiced Caramel Apple Muffins were born! I came across the original muffin recipe which was for Peach Muffins in the “The King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion” but I made some tweaks to the recipe to create my own autumn version of this summer treat! Be sure to use a nice, crisp baking apple in the recipe to keep the apple bits from getting mushy and turning into applesauce when baking. A few excellent options are Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Winesap.

The batter will be very thick so I recommend using a cookie scoop to fill the greased or paper muffin cups, it makes the job much easier and far less messy. When pressing the caramel bits into the muffin tops I advise that you keep them close to the center of the muffin as caramel tends to melt and ooze in the oven. Placing them in the center will keep more caramel on the muffin and less on the pan. Lastly, I added a generous sprinkle of turbinado sugar to the top of each muffin for that little extra crunch and shimmer.

These muffins are very soft and fluffy with just the right amount of warmly spiced flavor. There are notes of allspice, cinnamon and apple pie spice all of which give a nice balance to the sweetness of the fruit. The little bits of caramel throughout add a nice chew, especially on the top of the muffin. These are the perfect breakfast treat on a cool, fall morning. Enjoy!

**MAKES 24 MUFFINS**

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups (19 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp (3/4 ounce) baking powder
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) milk
  • 3 medium sized baking apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup Kraft® Premium Caramel Bits, plus more for muffin tops 
  • Turbinado sugar, for tops of muffin (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, allspice, apple pie spice and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together until everything is evenly distributed and there are no lumps. Set aside.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Gently fold in the fruit and caramel bits.

Fill greased or paper muffin cups almost to the top. Press in a few caramel bits on the top and then sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Remove muffins from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

**NOTE – These muffins freeze beautifully. Simply cool them completely, wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap and place in a tightly sealed plastic container.**

Chocolate Covered Apple Slices

apple slices

Sometimes it can be a challenge to get your kids to eat healthy, I struggle daily with this because I have two pretty picky eaters. Thankfully, my son at least loves fruit but my daughter will put up a fight over anything that isn’t junk food or a hamburger. So I thought that if we dressed up our fruit a little it would motivate her to at least eat something a little better than chips or pretzels. I used dark chocolate which is a bit “healthier” and with such a thin layer of the yummy stuff, this snack really is just fruit on a stick!

The little beauties pictured above were handmade by both of my kids. They were in charge of dipping and decorating and I think they did an amazing job! Plus, they were so excited to eat them since they were the sous chefs in charge. That is the great benefit of letting your kids help you in the kitchen, when they have some ownership over the food that is being prepared they are more inclined to want to try new things. No surprise, my daughter liked them!

For this batch of apples they decided to use sprinkles, diced pecans, mini chocolate chips and toffee bits for their toppings. You can really use almost anything you have in the pantry as a topping such as crushed cookies or graham crackers, mini marshmallows, crushed candy, sanding sugar, etc. This is a great opportunity for your kids to get creative in the kitchen. If you wanted to be a little “naughty” and amp these up a level, dip the apple slices into melted caramel first, let cool and then coat with chocolate. SO good!

Before you dip the apples into the chocolate I recommend that you give the slices a quick dip in lemon juice. The lemon juice will help to prevent the cut apple slices from getting brown and mushy. When you remove them from the lemon juice gently dry with a clean paper towel before you begin dipping them into the chocolate. Do not skip this step as you do not want to introduce any liquid into the melted chocolate because it can cause it to seize rendering it completely unusable. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 unpeeled apples, cored and sliced
  • wooden skewers
  • lemon juice, for preservation
  • 1 bag of chocolate melting wafers or other chocolate
  • assorted toppings
  • wax paper, for workspace

Instructions

Thoroughly wash apples then core and slice them. Place them into a bowl of lemon juice and gently swirl them around for a minute or two. Remove and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Place a wooden skewer in each slice. Sort toppings into small bowls or cups.

apple slices 2

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip the slices, one at a time, into the chocolate and then gently tap them on the side of bowl or pot to remove excess chocolate. Hold the apple slice over the wax paper and sprinkle on the topping.

emme dipping

Gently place the apple slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. Place the finished slices into the refrigerator and allow them to cool and harden for at least 20-30 minutes.  Store them in the refrigerator until serving.

apple slices