Sometimes when I go for a hike through my neighborhood I like to listen to Pandora or an old podcast from the Splendid Table. I try to hike about 3- 5 miles depending on the day and the amount of time I have available. What I like about Pandora is I can always find an inspiration in the music to keep me going no matter what my mood. The music pushes me onto the next mile when I really want to just walk into the bakery I just passed and get a latte and a croissant. When I listen to an old podcast of the Splendid Table I feel like I am gaining knowledge on all things food related, but I do feel there is a downside to it. They sometimes discuss something that I cannot get off my mind and then I have to have it. When I listened to the podcast that was about tofu we ended up with a spicy tofu dinner. There was a segment with Chef Lidia Bastianich, and of course I needed to make a dish of ziti similar to what she described. But this week when I was listening to them talk about a bakery in Oregon that has a wonderfully moist applesauce cake I was deeply intrigued. This is a cake I never tried before…I must have that cake; maybe not the best thing to be thinking about after a long hike. I am sure there are better things I could be eating, but now I felt I needed it!
I did my research like always and found a recipe that was in Gourmet Magazine several years back and it was highly recommended. I used that as my base and added extra spice, along with some chocolate chunks. I had this desire to have this slightly spicy, moist, and balanced cake with a nice sugary spiced topping to it. Instead of baking it into a loaf or cake round I opted for little cupcakes. This way I had some sort of portion control. This is my rational because if the cake turned out half as good as I had hoped for I would not be cutting it into small slices, and then what good does the hiking really do?
So how did it turn out you might wonder? Fantastic! It was all that I dreamed it could be. It was definitely moist, a bit spicy, well balanced in its flavor, and the sugary topping was a nice crunchy contrast to the cake. In my opinion it was perfection, and the portion control aspect worked out just as I had hoped for. I think I need to make this again, it was that good!
Applesauce Spiced Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes (makes 16 cupcakes)
1 ¾ cups of cakes flour
1 tsp of baking soda
½ tsp of kosher salt
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground cardamom
1 tsp of ground ginger
½ tsp of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 cup of sugar in the raw
6 oz of butter, room temperature
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 heaping cup of applesauce (unsweetened)
1 six oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 ½ cups of brown sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of ground ginger
½ tsp of ground cardamom
¼ tsp of nutmeg, freshly grated
Pinch of salt
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners of your choice. In a bowl whisk together your flour, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, & nutmeg and set it aside.
Next, place your butter and raw sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl (you can mix this by hand if you wish). Combine your sugar and your butter until it is light and fluffy. Be sure it is well combined, and then add your egg and vanilla and mix well. Be sure your mixture is smooth and evenly stirred. Add in your flour mixture and stir until it all moist and evenly mixed.
Then, add in your applesauce and stir well. Once all is combined fold your chocolate chunks into your batter. Scoop your batter into your cupcake liners up to about halfway full. In a bowl, mix together the topping for the cupcakes (brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt) and spoon about 2 tbsp of this mixture over each batter filled cupcake liner. When done tap and shake your pan to be sure the topping is evenly distributed.
Finally, place your cupcake pans in the middle of your oven and bake about 20 – 25 minutes. Test the cupcakes to be sure they are firm and not under baked in the center. When cupcakes are done let cool in pan about 15 minutes before trying to remove them. Let cool about 10 minutes more before trying to eat. Can be held in an air tight container for 4 days at room temperature.