Caramel Sauce is made by melting sugar and cooking it to a light amber color. The darker the color, the stronger the caramel flavor. Take care that it doesn't reach toffee stage, which is actually burnt sugar.
When the sugar is at the right color, you add milk. I tried making this with high-protein soymilk (one I use to make yogurt with) but it burned the caramel sauce to a crisp, so I recommend using a low-protein milk, such as lower protein soymilk or, better, yet, if you aren't allergic, store-bought almond milk.
Then you stir and stir until the re-crystallized sugar melts again. Attach a candy thermometer and cook the syrup until it reaches about 228-degrees F. Yes, get a candy thermometer if you will be making candy. The cheaper ones are as low as $5 [AMAZON] or the better ones are below $10 [AMAZON], but I recommend a digital thermometer. This [AMAZON] is the one I use.
The batter is made with tart apples, but you can use whatever you like - I've made them with all kinds of apples. You drizzle the cooled cupcakes with that amazing caramel sauce and serve these treats right away.
Because caramel sauce can be a bit tricky to work with, I've made a video detailing this recipe.
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Makes 6 cupcakes/ 1/4 cup caramel sauce
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup low-protein nondairy milk (commercial almond milk works well)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup neutral oil
6 tablespoons aquafaba**
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups diced tart apples
2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
1. Caramel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and melt the sugar, stirring as needed to melt as much of the sugar as possible. Cook the sugar only until it is turning a light amber (any longer and the sugar could burn). Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk. The mixture will bubble and foam up. Stir until the crystallized sugar dissolves again, using a sturdy wooden spoon. Take it on and off the heat to facilitate this.
2. When most of the sugar has melted, return the pot to the heat and add a candy thermometer. Cook the caramel, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 228-degrees F. Very gently remove it from the heat and set it aside for a full 15 minutes. This will help prevent it from crystallizing. When it is cool, stir in the vanilla. Chill the caramel to firm up and warm it up to melt it if using from the fridge.
3. Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Prepare a 6-tin muffin pan with cupcake liners and oil spray or just oil spray. Combine the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, ginger and salt in a small bowl. Combine the oil, aquafaba, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and the apples and fold to combine. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins and bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
4. Cool the cupcakes in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool the cupcakes completely before adding caramel. Add the caramel and nuts right before serving.
** Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.
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