Prune Spice Cupcakes
These cupcakes remind me of a cake my grandmother used to bake. While it was hot in the pan, and with the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg floating around the kitchen, she would pour a hot buttermilk glaze over the top. That glaze was just too messy for cupcakes, so I added this creamy frosting. The maple flavoring marries beautifully with the prunes, the applesauce, and the spices, and I think even my grandmother would approve.
24 unbleached Mini Baking Cups
(2 1/2-inch size)
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain spice cake mix
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped pitted prunes (about 10 prunes)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice Butterscotch Maple Frosting
Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
Prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add the prunes and stir to coat the prunes with the cake mix and cocoa. Add the applesauce, water, oil, eggs, nutmeg, and allspice. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and blend 1 1/2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined and thickened.
Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.
Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 20 to 23 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.
Meanwhile, prepare the Butterscotch Maple Frosting.
Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Place them in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. The cupcakes are now ready to serve.
Store the cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Not crazy about prunes? Use golden raisins instead. Or really crazy about prunes? Use the orange-flavored prunes. Keep in mind that prunes tend to be softer if purchased in a bag or in a sealed cardboard box. Once you open a box, be sure to seal it well to keep them soft. If the prunes are hard, pour a tablespoon or two of water over them and soften in the microwave oven for 10 to 15 seconds. It is easiest to chop prunes--and all dried fruit--if you first lightly oil the paring knife.
As prepared, each serving contains 150 calories, 8g total fat, 25mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium, 18g total carbohydrate and 2g protein.