Fall has arrived when you see fresh apples of every type from all over the country in your local market. You can use any combination of your favorite apples in this recipe. But do select an apple is good for applesauce. Gala, Ambrosia, Golden Delicious, Rome, Cortland, Jonagold are all good for applesauce and baking. The homemade applesauce gives this cupcake a wonderful taste and texture. It is really much like an apple cake with lots of spices. Cooking the apples with brown sugar enhances the apple taste with a bit of added caramel flavor. Just before serving you can drizzle with a confectioner's glaze flavored with maple syrup for a nice presentation. These cupcakes carry well to a Thanksgiving feast or your own stay at home dessert display.
COOKS NOTES: Plan to make the applesauce ahead as it needs time to cool before adding to the batter. You can also use chunky applesauce; measure 1 -1/2 cups for this recipe. I created the first version of this recipe almost 10 years ago. I updated the recipe to make jumbo muffins and added more flavors Many years of research about baking science, I am now much wiser and learned how to add the right type and measure of baking powder and baking soda. —Lorraine Fina Stevenski
MAKE THE APPLESAUCE: To a 12" skillet with a lid, add the tablespoon of butter and melt on medium high heat. Add the apples and brown sugar; stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low, stir and slightly cover. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the apples are soft and the liquid has reduced to a caramel consistency. Remove to a mixing bowl and mash into a smooth consistency with some chunks visible. Use an immersion blender or a few pulses in the food processor will work. COOL to room temperature before adding to this recipe. Use 1- 1/2 cups of this mixture.
MAKE THE BATTER: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 jumbo muffin cups with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy; about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.
On low speed, in 5 increments, add the flour and applesauce; start and end with the flour mixture. Fold in the pecans and raisins by hand.
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle the pecan/sugar mixture on top of each. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. These cupcakes will bake to the top of the muffin cup almost flat like a cake.