Fall is apple picking, brisk air, a warm fire, spice… My humble cupcakes were inspired by those things I love best about the season. The applesauce cake is moist and tender, with delicate spice. It marries beautifully with the richness of the brown sugar Sabayon. The Bourbon Lace Crunch adds a dimension of texture ~ a light buttery crunch that takes the experience to another dimension.
I was initially stumped when it came to the garnish. I wanted something attractive, yet delicious. Rather than something that simply acted as "window dressing", I wanted a garnish that would add even more "WOW" to the marriage of flavors and textures from the cake and the Sabayon. What resulted from my musings was a new take on the old classic lace cookie. The hint of molasses added richness and complexity. The bourbon provided a note of continuity. The crunch is delicate, buttery, and starts to melt on your tongue with your first bite of creamy Sabayon and tender cake.
Chocolate Applesauce Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Bourbon Sabayon & Bourbon Lace Crunch Garnish
For the Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup canola oil
3 large eggs
23.5 oz. applesauce
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Brown Sugar Bourbon Sabayon
4 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup heavy cream, plus 1cup cream
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 Tablespoons good bourbon
½ vanilla bean, scraped
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
For the Bourbon Lace Crunch
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon Molasses
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ finely processed pecans
2 Tablespoons good bourbon
For the cupcakes:
- Sift together flour, cinnamon, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of standing mixture, beat eggs, sugar, and oil until pale yellow.
- Add dry ingredients, applesauce, sour cream and vanilla to the egg mixture and beat on low, just to combine.
- Using a standard ice-cream scoop, portion batter into lined muffin tin.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
For the sabayon:
- In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined.
- Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.
- Add ¼ cup heavy cream and beat at medium speed until just combined. Scrape bowl.
- Set bowl with yolks over medium saucepan containing 1 inch of gently simmering water; cook, constantly scraping along bottom and sides of bowl with heatproof rubber spatula, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 160 on an instant-read thermometer (4-7 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer tempered egg mixture into bowl of large food processor. Add cream cheese, bourbon, and vanilla bean scrapings. Process till smooth. Scrape down sides with rubber spatula. Process another few seconds.
- In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat 1 cup cream at medium speed until frothy. Add brown sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks. On medium-low speed, add cream cheese mixture ½ cup at a time. When all the cream cheese mixture has been added, increase to medium high, and beat till cream peaks. Remove to medium bowl, cover and chill.
For the lace crunch:
- Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment.
- In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, corn syrup and molasses. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Stir in flour, ground pecans and bourbon.
- Pour on to lined baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon or offset spatula, spread batter evenly to approx. ¼ thick (do not spread to the edges of the pan, as batter will expand).
- Cook approximately 15 minutes, or until bubbly and medium-dark brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- When lace cookie has cooled, break into smaller pieces and place in a large Ziploc bag. Crush cookie into small bits. You can use your hands or a rolling pin. Set aside until ready to garnish cupcakes.
Top cupcakes with a dollop of sabayon and a sprinkling of the lace cookie crumbles.