Why not Applesauce Cupcakes? Cupcakes are almost overwhelmingly trendy these days, so if you are going to serve dessert to a party or a group, you can make them instead of a cake and impress. This recipe also has the potential to become a Signature Dish if it goes over well. I adapted the recipe from America Online's excellent Food page, because the original recipe called for dried apples, which I never cook with (for good reason). So I apologize to the AOL chefs, but here's another version.
Applesauce Cake has long had the reputation of keeping well due to the moisture-conserving nature of the applesauce in the batter. So you can make them the night before, as I would if I were making them for church, and not have to freeze them if you are going to serve them the next day.
There is some very high-quality applesauce out there, too, but one thing you have to do is read the label to avoid High-Fructose Corn Syrup. This could involve a trip to your local Sprouts in Tucson to find organic applesauce, if necessary, but you should NEVER eat HFCS, as it is very dangerous, especially to children. There is nothing wrong with using unsweetened applesauce, by the way, which helps to avoid the sweetener problem. With the marshmallow-type frosting, the cupcakes will be quite sweet.
Using brown sugar to make a nougat-type frosting will be a good learning experience as well. This might also be a good time to serve apple wine in some form with dessert.
APPLE CUPCAKES WITH MARSHMALLOW-CINNAMON FROSTING
For the cupcakes:
1 cup applesauce
3 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, plus 3/4 cup, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
5 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs. at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners or coat the pan with cooking spray.
Combine the applesauce in a bowl with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Set this aside.
Beat the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the vanilla, increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute.
Whisk the whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.
With the mixer on its lowest speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and milk to the batter, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Stir in the reserved apple mixture until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.
Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let them cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before frosting.
For the frosting:
1 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoon dried egg whites (see Note), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Combine the brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle cinnamon on top, if desired.