Challenge: Apples + Peanut Butter

img_1928So C, my coworker, has an apple tree or a friend with an apple tree or something. Whenever he brings in a bag of apples to work, I take some with the promise of bringing back baked apple goodness for the office.

Apple pie, apple bread, apple cobbler, apple tart… I could’ve resorted to any of these, but a couple of things: 1) I’m just about out of cinnamon, and 2) there’s GOT to be another flavor pairing for apples that’s not cinnamon or cheddar; I’m so tired of cinnamon-apple anything.

This is where A comes in. He tells me about how he’s been on a big peanut butter and apple kick lately. Hmm… the cogs are turning. Having never tried the combo myself, I went to cut up an apple. Wow. There’s something about the difference in textures and how the saltiness in the peanut butter brings out the sweetness of the apple that lends itself to good eats.

So here, I’ve concocted the following recipe based on Paula Deen’s Peanut Butter Cake recipe and a caramel frosting recipe adapted from Chow.

Say hello to Peanut Butter Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream.


There’s a whole story to this particular baking adventure, so bear with me! I diced up the apples and macerated them in some brown sugar before I made the cake batter. Then I folded in the apples into the batter. I toyed with partially cooking the apples first, but part of the awesomeness of PB and apples is the smooth-crunchy texture play.


Notice how the batter is so thick? THAT’S BECAUSE I FORGOT TO ADD IN THE EGGS! I realized my blunder about 10 minutes into the cooking time. Too late to do a Ctrl-Z, I waited to see what would result…

My cook time ended up being about 35 minutes. This was the final product:


It looks half decent, right? And I’m still in shock that I forgot the eggs! But in any case, the cake ended up being absolutely sinful! The lack of eggs made for an extremely rich cake, which managed to stay wonderfully moist due to the amount of peanut butter in the recipe. The apples still had some crunch to them, and oh my, this was one happy mistake.


Topped with caramel buttercream and a decorative caramel chip, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I will try the recipe with the eggs next time, but I can already see this cupcake fast becoming one of my favorites anyway. Perhaps the absence of eggs was a good thing though. The resulting cake had a mouth-feel similar to straight peanut butter… but it was cake! I’d like to think it’s a throwback to the starting ingredients. Rich, thick cake with crispy apple bits. Yum.

Peanut Butter Apple Cake


  • 5 medium-sized baking apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar plus 1T granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F if baking with a metal dish; 325 degrees F if using a glass dish.

Peel, core, and dice apples into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss with brown sugar in a large bowl and let sit while preparing cake batter.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter, butter, milk, and vanilla. Beat mixture with electric mixer on low until moistened, and then beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Strain apples from juice and mix them into the batter.

Bake in greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan for 30 to 35 minutes. Do not remove from pan to cool.

Caramel Frosting


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


Briefly stir together granulated sugar and 4 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and slowly add in an additional 2 tablespoons of water and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. When the mixture is cool to the touch, mix in the milk. Set aside until mixture has firmed up considerably. A short trip to the fridge can speed up the process.

Combine butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.

Turn mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until stiff, about 45 minutes, before using.


7 Responses

  1. oohh yaay! success! The caramel chips look awesome XD

  2. lol, glad they came out better than expected. you2pr0.

  3. dudde. that looks so good! i wanna see how you made the caramel loops!

  4. holy canoli! that looks amazing. amy, i am consistently amazed. Damn, I thought that was a pro picture on the main page. It sounds sinfully delectable.

    …just wow.

  5. Haha a little bit of color touch-up in Photoshop does amazing things. Ctrl-U is my friend. 😛

  6. It’s so cool that you do challenges! Very creative I must say. The caramel buttercream was a nice touch. I’d expect to see this thing on Top Chef. I am totally amazed and curious about this treat and what you’ll come up with next. 🙂

  7. […] | Tags: apples, peanut butter | Ah, these cupcakes. I am determined to perfect them! After having forgotten the egg last time and receiving yet another bag of apples from C, I had to make the Peanut Butter Apple […]

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