Caramel Apple Muffins

These humble looking muffins are hands down the most delicious apple recipe I made this autumn. This butterscotch-flavoured muffin, chock full of apple bits, contains an extra treat: a caramel heart. It took a few tries to perfect the recipe – turns out that if the caramel sauce is not thick enough, it will just melt into the batter, for example! But, all is well that ends well, and I very much enjoyed eating all the previous versions of this recipe too!

I suppose one could play with frostings to make the muffins prettier, but they’re so rich and good as-is that I never got around to trying a frosting with them.


Caramel Apple Muffins (12 muffins)

Caramel sauce:
7 tablespoons heavy cream (100 ml – or 1/2 cup minus 1 tbls)
7 tablespoons brown sugar (100 ml – or 1/2 cup minus 1 tbls)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
1 ¼ cups buttermilk (or equal parts milk and plain yogurt)
90 g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 ½ cups chopped apples

To make caramel sauce: Place cream, sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Bring gently to boil, stirring. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.

You want a thick sauce – but keep in mind that the sauce thickens further as it cools and you want end to up with spoonable goo, not a solid lump (I did that once! ;-) )! Drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan: you should be able to see the bottom for a second or so before the thickened mixture closes in on itself and covers the bottom again.

When the sauce is ready, remove from heat and mix in vanilla. Allow to cool.
To make muffins:
Preheat oven to 220 C. Prepare a 12-hole muffin pan: either grease or line with muffin liners.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla sugar.
In another bowl, combine brown sugar, treacle, buttermilk, melted butter and egg.
Pour wet mixture on top of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
Fold in chopped apples.
Drop a heaping tablespoonful of the batter in each hole of the muffin pan. Using a teaspoon, fashion a little “nest” in the batter for the caramel sauce in each muffin. Divide the caramel sauce between the muffins.
Top with the remaining batter. Try to make sure that the batter covers the caramel sauce – it might still bubble out of a few of the muffins so consider protecting the bottom of your oven! My caramel sauce has only ever spread across the muffin pan, but it never hurts to be prepared, eh?
Place muffin pan in the preheated oven and lower oven temperature to 180 C. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and test done.

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