Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Apple upside-down gingerbread cakes are a tiny treat

I love Honeycrisp apples, but they're usually the priciest apple in the supermarket. As good as they are, I'm rarely willing to spend $2 or $3 on a single apple.

That's why, when I saw boxes of six medium Honeycrisp going for $1, I grabbed two. Twelve Honeycrisp apples for a total of $2 -- I felt like I'd hit the apple jackpot.

I'd been thinking about making mini apple upside-down cakes, so I got out the flour, sugar and other ingredients and came up with this recipe. The slightly spicy batter is flavored with ground and crystallized ginger plus cinnamon, while honey and brown sugar contribute sweetness along with their distinctive flavors. Most apple cakes are made with vegetable oil instead of butter, and this is no exception, but I used a little butter in the bottom of each muffin cup for flavor and to prevent sticking.

And speaking of preventing sticking, use the same measuring cup for the oil and then the honey. The honey will slide right out.

And if you don't have a cache of Honeycrisps, another favorite variety such as Granny Smith, Jonathan, Fuji or Gala will do.

Yield: 12 cakes

Nonstick cooking spray
About 1 tablespoon butter or ghee (clarified butter), melted
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
6 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Brush about 1/4 teaspoon melted butter in the bottom of each cup. Sprinkle each cup evenly with 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. Arrange an apple slice (whole or cut into pieces) and some pecans in each muffin cup. Set aside.

Coarsely chop the remaining apple slices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and oil. Add egg; stir until well blended. Stir in honey and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger. Add to wet ingredients; stir just until combined. Stir chopped apples and crystallized ginger into the batter.

Pour 3 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup. Do not overfill -- the cooked cakes should just reach the top of the cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack for 2 minutes, then run a thin knife around each cake. Invert the cakes onto a large plate, platter or cutting board; lift off the pan. Using a spatula, transfer the cakes to the wire rack and let cool completely.

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