Bourbon Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I mean, look at these beauties.

They are gorgeous in their own ooey-gooey way.  I'm not particularly a bourbon fan - for drinking, that is.  As for baking - a thousand times YES!  Bourbon compliments classic flavors like cinnamon and apples.  This recipe was made for some bourbon.

I was inspired by a cupcake that I had whilst on my ski trip to New Hampshire.  It was supposed to be boozy, but there wasn't any kick to be had.  I was a little bummed, but I still loved the concept.  It's like an apple pie INSIDE of a cupcake!

Our local bourbon distillery started selling a barrel-aged maple syrup too.  It has a smokey, vanilla flavor that is complex and delicious.  I'll need to go get more.  ASAP.  It adds another dimension to these spicy cupcakes.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Cupcakes
12 plain cupcakes, recipe here
one batch of vegan caramel, recipe here
5 small apples, peeled and finely diced
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 c. bourbon

In a medium-sized sauce pan, place the diced apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bourbon.  Cook this mixture over medium heat and allow it to boil.  Lower the heat; cook it down until it reduces and the liquid thickens, about 15 minutes.  Add another splash of bourbon and stir, as you remove it from the heat.  Set aside.

In the mean time, or at the same time if you are a good multi-tasker, make the caramel sauce.  When it's done, set it aside so it can thicken for a few moments.

Using a fancy cupcake corer or a butter knife, core your cupcakes.  Take a heaping tablespoon of the apple mixture and fill the cores.  Pour the caramel on top.

You can add a dollop of icing to the cupcakes and top with additional caramel or cinnamon sticks.  These cupcakes are a crowd-pleaser - even those guys who don't like sweets will indulge!