Chai-spiced Applesauce cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

A perfect recipe for the Fall when you have way too many apples and way too much applesauce! Can also be made with pears/pear sauce for a twist. The chai spice (recipe below) is a nice change of pace from the typical pie spice that’s floating in the air – try it in place of pie spice or pumpkin pie spice in Fall/Winter baking for variety, or add it to your latte!

Chai-spiced applesauce cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Makes 12 cupcakes

For cupcakes
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour, or any combination thereof
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chai spice mix (see below)(or equivalent pumpkin pie spice, or 1 teaspoon cinnamon+1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg+1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 13 ounces) unsweetened applesauce

For frosting (1.5x or 2.x the frosting for more generously frosted cupcakes)
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

Make cupcakes
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Using electric beaters or a stand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce.

Lower the speed, and mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Divide batter among 12 muffin tins (about 1/3 cup batter per tin, almost till the top), and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check to see if the cupcakes are done (they are done when a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean). Bake additional 5 minutes, if needed.

Cool the muffins in the pan on cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, then take out of the muffin tin and cool on the rack all the way.

Make frosting
Using electric beaters or a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at high speed until light and fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.

Pipe or spread the frosting over cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Chai Spice

Makes 4 oz

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cardamom
1/2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoons ground cloves
1/2 tablespoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ground spices in a small airtight spice jar or container, and shake vigorously. Store in a cool dark place for about 3 months.

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