This is something I’ve been thinking about making for a long time now.
We all love cupcakes, right? Well, most of us do anyway. But, aside from the traditional sweet-smack-your-booty-and-tooth variety, I wanted to come up with a savory version of it, just to tickle myself and see if I could pull it off.
After a few weeks of poring over pictures, cookbooks, blogs, etcetera etcetera, I just started thinking of classic combinations that would work well together. When I think of apples, I think of cheddar, which then makes me think of apple juice, and then string cheese….
I don’t know.
But, stay with me.
And so, naturally, the pairing of apples with cheese together, especially in a cupcake seemed to be a good fit. The cardamom was actually a surprise guest as I was perusing the spice cabinet and saw her hiding in the shadows way in the back. I gave her a sniff and immediately knew she would really go wonderfully in here with her delicate but enticing floral aroma. If you haven’t cooked with her before, I urge you to give her a try. She’s quite lovely and likes to be used (in a good way — get your mind out the gutter).
As savory as I wanted this cupcake to turn out, I still added a bit of sweetness to balance all the flavors. I’ve been hanging on to a jar of Lyle’s Golden Syrup — I must’ve bought it for a specific recipe who knows when, but never got around to using it, so I incorporated this sweetener instead of a more traditional honey or maple syrup. But, I reckon you could use either/or. This stuff is actually quite good. I was pleasantly surprised and thought it had a bit more depth of flavor than honey.
For the frosting, I thought a standard buttery one would do. My initial inspiration came from compound butters but then as I began to plan it out more thoroughly, decided to incorporate some sweet flavors as well to tie everything together. I also added some fresh oregano leaves to bring out the earthiness of the whole thang.
And then I topped it off with a little more golden syrup. Just for good measure.
Let me just tell you, this little cupcake was insanely good.
I don’t know if it was the butter, the tenderness of the cupcake itself, or the hit of cardamom spice, but it just about knocked my socks off — and I wear big socks. I think I inhaled that thing in five seconds flat. I ate it over the sink.
Yeah. It’s that kind of good.
The tartness of the granny smith apple is subtle, as is the cheesiness of the white cheddar, but you can still taste their presence — graceful and melodic. And the cardamom rocked it out with her fauna and carefree warmth. I’m cookin’ with that little lady again soon.
I have to say that I really loved making this. For me, there’s something so exhilarating about using familiar ingredients but coming up with a different approach to cooking and eating it. It makes for a whole new food experience. I live for that. And I love it.
I encourage you to use this as a guideline to whip up your own cupcake creations. Think of your favorite flavors. What are you drawn to? Eating is a personal experience. Make it your own and have fun with it.
Cardamom-Spiced Apple and White Cheddar Cupcakes with Whipped Butter Frosting and Golden Syrup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
For the cupcakes:
1 ½ C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ t. cardamom
¼ t. cinnamon
1 ½ C. granny smith apple; peeled then grated (squeeze lemon juice on top to keep crisp and prevent browning)
¼ C. white cheddar; grated
¾ C. golden syrup (I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
¾ C. vegetable oil
2 large eggs; at room temperature
¼ C. whole milk
For the frosting:
1 lb. unsalted butter; at room temperature
¼ C. confectioner’s sugar
4 T. golden syrup
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 t. fresh oregano leaves; chopped roughly
For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grab a 12-cup muffin tin and either line it with cupcake wrappers or spray lightly with oil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon together. In another medium bowl, whisk together the grated apple (without the lemon juice), white cheddar, golden syrup, vegetable oil, eggs, and milk until combined. In a few batches, combine the dry mixture with the wet mixture, using a spatula to fully mix the ingredients together gently.
Divide the batter amongst the 12 cups in the muffin tin, filling only about 2/3 of the way up. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the center of the cupcake comes out mostly clean with a toothpick.
Let the cupcakes cool in the muffin tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow to cool for about 1 hour before spreading with frosting (otherwise, the butter will melt).
For the frosting:
In a stand mixer or hand mixer with a paddle attachment, whip together the softened butter with the confectioner’s sugar, golden syrup, salt, and lemon juice until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the oregano leaves and mix for another few seconds.
Spread the frosting over the cooled cupcakes, drizzle more golden syrup, then top with a fresh sprig of oregano. Serve!