Posts Tagged ‘Martha Stewart’

I have always thought that pancakes were the most overrated breakfast food.  There’s nothing objectionable about them, but given the choice between those and other breakfast goodies – waffles, and omelets, and bagels with lox, pancakes just always have seemed boring to me.

I may be coming around though because these were delicious.  Something about the addition of cornmeal in these things made them taste amazing.  They don’t have that weird spongy texture that has always bugged me about pancakes.  They are heartier and have a much nicer flavor.  Complete with sweet, juicy blueberries straight from the farmers market, this made for a really yummy breakfast.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Recipe by Martha Stewart

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for griddle
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (1 pint) blueberries

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, butter, and egg. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toss blueberries with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush griddle with melted butter. Spoon batter onto griddle 1/3 cup at a time. Sprinkle with sugared blueberries, about 2 tablespoons per pancake.

Cook until edges are set, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter and blueberries, adding more butter to griddle and keeping prepared pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven. Serve with maple syrup and fresh blueberries.

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A slightly more sophisticated looking dinner than last week, using very similar ingredients.

And, this soup rocked.  Butternut squash, pear, and turnip?  Yes, please.  I already had one standard butternut squash soup recipe, but now it has competition in the rotation.  You can definitely taste the pear in it, though the spicy turnip balances everything out, keeping it from being too sweet.  The recipe looks simple, and I was tempted to add some leeks or garlic or something.  I didn’t, and I found I didn’t need to.  It works perfectly just as it is.

The fancy floating pear was pretty easy to do, so try it out and impress your guests with your oh-so-Martha presentation.

On the side, a mix of mustard greens and salad greens.  I dressed it with olive oil and cider vinegar (not local), with a tiny splash of maple syrup (a local-to-them gift from family in Massachusetts).  The maple dressing was really good on the bitter, spicy mustard greens.

All and all, a delicious winter meal.

Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup
Recipe by Martha Stewart

4 small Bartlett pears (about 6 ounces each), plus an additional larger pear to use for the garnish
1 sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 turnip (about 3 ounces), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sprig fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, white if you have it

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Cut the larger pear into paper thin pieces, using a mandoline or sharp knife.  Pick out the seeds and stem.  Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut 2 medium pears lengthwise into paper-thin slices.  Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake about 1 hour, or until the pears are dry.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Peal the remaining pears.  Halve lengthwise and core.  Add the pears, squash or pumpkin, and the turnip to a 4 quart stockpot with the sage and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover with water (at least 4 cups) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Discard the sage.  Carefully transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree in batches.   Return the soup to the pot and bring up to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the cream, salt, and pepper.   Serve with the dried pears as a garnish.

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I wanted to make a cranberry dessert for a Thanksgiving potluck.  Martha Stewart had this recipe for a New England Cranberry Duff.

I am from New England and have never heard of a duff before.  After playing around with The Google and learning way more about this dude than I have ever cared to know, I learned that it’s usually made with plums, and better known as plum pudding.

Also, it looks nothing like this recipe.

So between Martha’s screw up, and my changes, I’m calling it a snack cake.  A very delicious, buttery, fruity snack cake.

And if it’s not cranberry season, I think this would be excellent with fresh berries.

Cranberry Snack Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
1 12 ounce bag of cranberries
1/2 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, being careful not to brown., and set aside to cool slightly.

Line a 9X13 glass baking dish with parchment paper and generously butter it, using about 4 tablespoons of the butter.  You don’t want this to stick, so just spread it thick.   Then, pour the cranberries evenly over bottom of dish.

Sprinkle the ground almonds and 2/3 cup of sugar on top and set aside.

 Mix the eggs, the remaining white sugar, and the brown sugar in a bowl, until thoroughly combined and thick.  Add the vanilla extract.  Gradually stir in the flour and salt.

Add the melted butter to the mixture slowly, stirring until smooth.

Slowly pour batter into pan to cover cranberries, making sure that they stay spread out evenly.   Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge to loosen, and invert to unmold.  It will be somewhat upside down cake like, so you want to flip it so the cranberries are on top.

I sliced mine into 28 wedges, which made for a perfect size for a party with lots of desserts.  If this was the only dessert you were serving, you would probably want to cut bigger slices.  You can serve it warm or at room temperature, with forks or without. 

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I really like gnocchi.  I usually cheat when I eat it, and use a package from Trader Joe’s.  I made ricotta gnocchi once, and while it was good, it was too rich for me to want to eat regularly.

This gnocchi recipe, however, is awesome.  I want to make it all the time.    It’s labor intensive, but totally worth it because it is truly delicious.   I’ll try to go through it step by step.   

There’s a lot of different sweet potato gnocchi recipes out there.  I chose the one on Martha Stewart’s site because it makes a ton and just looked right to me.   I loosely adapted a sauce from Food and Wine using some good apple cider from the farmers’ market.

I bought my sweet potatoes at the farmers market and they weren’t orange, so my finished product wasn’t a pretty orange shade, but still very yummy.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi
From marthastewart.com and “Pasta Sfoglia,” by Colleen and Ron Suhanosk

Makes 2 1/2 pounds

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional – I skipped it because I was making such a sweet sauce.  I reduced the flour by a 1/4 cup or so just to make sure they wouldn’t be too dry)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Extra flour for dusting (The recipe calls for rice flour.  I used all purpose without a problem.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   The recipe says to wrap the sweet potatoes in parchment paper-lined aluminum foil.   I skipped the parchment paper because I didn’t see the point, and I didn’t have a problem.  Bake until easily pierced in the center with a fork, about 1 hour.  Let cool.

Place russet potatoes in a large pot; add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until easily pierced in the center with a fork.  Drain and cool.

Peel all of the potatoes.   Pass potatoes through a ricer or food mill fitted with a medium-hole dish.

Spread all-purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface.  Place potatoes on top of flour.   Add egg, maple syrup if you are using, and salt. 


Using your hands, mix together ingredients on work surface until well combined to form a dough.  Gently knead dough into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle.  Let rest for 2 minutes.

Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour.  Cut the rectangle into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 1-inch-thick rope.  Cut each rope into 1/2 inch gnocchi.  If you are super ambitous, lightly press a fork into each one to create ridges.  The ridges will help the sauce stick  a little better, but they definitely are not necessary.


Store gnocchi on a rice flour-covered baking sheet until ready to use and dust with more flour. 


To cook the gnocci, gently place into a boiling pot of salted water.  When they float to the top, cook for approximately one more minute, then drain.  Some will float to the top much faster than others, so I usually start my minute countdown when it looks like more than half of them are floating.

Gnocchi can also be frozen up to 2 weeks. To freeze, place them, dusted with rice flour, in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, place them one on top of the other in an airtight container. To thaw for cooking, place gnocchi in a single layer on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for not more than 1 hour before cooking.

Apple Cider Sauce
Loosely adapted from Food and Wine

The original recipe can be found here.  I liked the idea, but I thought it looked too sweet, so I doctored it up a little.  While really good, I do think it was still a bit sweet, so next time I’ll reduce the cider by a 1/2 cup and replace with chicken or vegetable stock instead.

2 cups apple cider (or a mix of cider and broth)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped sage leaves
Salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to taste

In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring the cider (and broth) to a boil.  Reduce it to about a 1/2 cup of liquid, approximately 20 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter.  Add the shallots and saute until slightly golden, approximately 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sage and saute for another minute or two. 

Add about a pound of gnocchi, or one half of the recipe printed above.  Add the reduced cider and stir to coat.  Serve with parmesan cheese.


I served the gnocchi with a side of broccoli rabe that I tossed in garlic, olive oil, and red pepper.  And because I had labored all day over this dish, I decided that it deserved to be served with something good.  I opted for a bottle of pinot from one of my favorite Sonoma wineries, Stephen & Walker.  Their Sonoma Coast pinot noir is much fruiter than your typical pinot and went perfectly with this meal.


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The Perfect Meal

Every now and then, I see a recipe and it looks so perfect that I must make it immediately.   October’s Martha Stewart contained one of those.   The recipe takes a bit of time, but it’s completely worth it.  It’s delicious, it’s cheap, it uses a lot of ingredients that I keep in the pantry, it’s a complete meal (meat, carbs, and vegetable), and despite it being about 350 calories a serving, it is unbelievably filling and satisfying.

Are you sold?

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squashes
Martha Stewart October 2009

2 medium acorn squashes (about 2 pounds), halved and seeded
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. ground chuck (95 percent lean)
ground cinnamon
ground nutmeg
2 tsp. course salt
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups water
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts

I halved the recipe and it worked out fine, though I probably used the full 1/4 cup of parsley as well as 1/4 cup of chopped dates (instead of the raisins).  I also subbed ground pork for ground beef.   I realize this makes it not very Moroccan, but that’s what I had in my freezer.  I think any ground meat would work, as well as any combo of dried fruit.  I think you could easily make this vegetarian by using some chickpeas or even just increasing the amount of bulgar, dried fruit, and nuts a bit.

Preheat oven to 400. Place squashes, cut sides down in a 9×13 inch casserole dish.   Bake until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.   

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 4-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat.   Add ground meat, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer ground meat to a bowl or plate using a slotted spoon, keeping as much of the cooking liquid in the pot as possible. 

Add onion, and cook until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.   I didn’t have enough water in there, so I added a couple tablespoons of water to help the onions simmer without burning. 

Add remaining teaspoon salt and the bulgur, and stir to combine.  Add water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.   Take pot off the stove and let sit covered for 5 minutes.

Fluff the bulgar with a fork, and add reserved beef, the raisins, parsley and pine nuts and stir together to combine.

The chopping of the ingredients and the whole bulgar mixture cooking time should take you roughly the amount of time it takes for the squash to cook.

When the squash is done, take it out of the oven.  Let it cool a little and scrape it out to form 1/4 inch thick bowls.

Fold the squash flesh into bulgur mixture.   Divide among squash halves, and return to the oven.   Bake until warmed through and tops are browned, about 12 to 14 minutes.


One squash half should be the perfect dinner for one person, though a salad couldn’t hurt.  And a glass of red wine, of course.

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I should have known from the moment I saw these in the February 2009 Martha Stewart Living, that they would be another labor of love.  But I’m a sucker for pretty foods and I didn’t listen to the little voice in my head telling me that my cupcakes would never be as gorgeous as Martha’s.

After a few ugly cupcakes and some internet consultations, I figured out the trick to making the pools of jam to look almost as nice as those of the domestic goddess.  Hopefully, my tricks will help you out should you dare to attempt them.

I made a couple substitutions from the original recipe, namely, replacing the chocolate cookie crust with a gingersnap one.  Chocolate just didn’t sound right to me with a springy, apricot dessert.  If you wanted to do chocolate, then I think a berry jam would go better.  Of course, I happen to think apricot really is the only jam worth making this with.  Red jam wouldn’t look like anything, and I love how these look like eggs or suns.

Finally, the recipe says it makes 18, but I think it’s really a 14-16 cupcake recipe.  The crust recipe was a little short, and I had to grind more cookies up.  Then, I filled the tins, but couldn’t get to the top and they didn’t rise up.  They were a little bit flat.  So, I’ll probably do 15 next time.

Mini Cheesecakes with Apricot Jam


3/4 cup crumbled chocolate-wafer cookies (about 18 cookies)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream  (I used nonfat plain yogurt)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup apricot jam (at least, I probably used about 3/4 cup)

I also added a teaspoon of lemon zest.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Mix cookies and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press 1 tablespoon of mixture in bottom of each cup. Bake until set, about 7 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees.  Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then vanilla and lemon zest, if you are using it.  With mixer running, add eggs slowly, scraping down side of bowl.  Add sour cream (or yogurt) and salt.  Pour batter into muffin cups, filling almost to the tops.

Bake until sides are set but centers are wobbly, about 20 minutes.  Let cool in tins on wire racks.  Wrap tins tightly with plastic, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Now, this is where things get tricky.  My cheesecakes were not wobbly, they were firm and slightly domed.  To make the pools, here’s what I did. 

First, I lightly etched circles in each of the cupcakes using the tip of a grapefruit spoon.  You could use a knife or whatever you’ve got.  I recommend the grapefruit spoon if you have one, since it’s sharp, it will scoop better than a knife will, and it’s a little smaller than a spoon.  

After etching the circles, I wiped the spoon clean, and heated it over a flame (just turned on a burner on my gas stove top).  When it was still very hot, I carefully cut away the circles.  It’s important that the spoon or knife that you use is hot, because that helps melt the cheesecake and you get a neater hole.  You’ll have to wipe the spoon off and reheat every cupcake or two.  You also may have to go back over the holes with a warmed spoon to smooth out the edges a little.

Warm the jam in a small saucepan until liquidy.  Strain through a sieve.  Spoon 1 teaspoon jam on top of each cake.   It’s really much easier to do this while the jam is warm because it will firm up again as it cools, so you may  have to reheat in the middle of the process.

The good news is that the jam pools do firm up, so these are fairly portable.  I carried mine in tupperware about 12 blocks and they were still pretty looking upon arrival.

The recipe says that the cheesecakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.  While this is probably true, the leftover ones were looking not so pretty after about 24 hours.  So, don’t make the jam pools until the day you want to impress people with them.


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Our CSA has given us a ton of butternut squash this year.  It started back in October or November, and we’ve gotten one or two in almost every single box since then.  I hadn’t cooked much of it in my life, just a soup or two really, but now I’m a pro.   And, it’s been wonderful having this much squash in the pantry all winter since it’s so versatile.  This risotto will be the fifth butternut squash recipe I’ve blogged about, and the soup, macaroni & cheese, and gnocchi I’ve made multiple times this winter since posting them.  Now that it’s spring, I should probably move on to asparagus and rhubarb, but Eatwell gave me two more butternut squashes last week, so here we are with another recipe.

There are quite a few versions of butternut squash risotto floating around online.  Since Martha and Ina never fail me, I immediately flocked to them.  Ironically, Martha’s is considerably more simple than Ina’s.   I opted for Martha’s version, because hers required that the squash be in the pot for the entire duration of the risotto cooking time, and I thought the end result would be squash-ier.  Ina’s looks excellent as well, so I may try that with the other squash.

If you’ve made risotto before, the recipe is a piece of cake.  If you’ve never made risotto before, here’s a good time to learn.  The recipe will probably serve 3-4 as an entree and 6 or so as a side dish.  The original recipe uses sage, which I omitted simply because that just seemed too wintery.  I think it was great without, though just about any fresh herb would be nice as a garnish.

Butternut Squash Risotto


1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, mixed with 1/2 cup water and heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until edges soften, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add 1/2 cup hot broth mixture. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more, 35 to 40 minutes total.

Stir in Parmesan and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and herbs, if desired.

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I have found that the vast majority of fun appetizer recipes involve carbs with a topping.  Canapes, bruschetta, and even just a cheese tray are all essentially the same thing.  Crackers or bread with stuff on them.  Which is fine, but when you are serving pizza for dinner, bruschetta is a pretty lame appetizer.

This Martha Stewart recipe is perfect for those situations.  And it could not be easier.  Martha calls for 20 ounces of figs for 6 to 8 people.  That seemed incredibly excessive, and I used about 10 ounces for my crowd of 7, which seemed to be just the right amount. 

The original recipe is simply equal parts honey and olive oil whisked together, then use the mixture to coat the dried figs before sprinkling them with coarse salt and baking for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Martha suggests a mix of dried Mission and Turkish figs, but I just used dried Calymyrna figs because that’s what they had at the store.

The finished product was delicious.  The inside of the figs get very soft and almost creamy, and the outside gets this delicious glaze.   So good.  Next time I make them, I’d probably increase the salt a bit because I like salty food.  But, the beauty of this recipe is that its so simple that you can adjust it to your taste.

I served the figs on a platter with thinly sliced proscuitto.  Seriously people, cooking does not get any easier than this.

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Pears + Saffron + Ginger = Heaven
And, this cake is really easy to make.
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Pinch of saffron threads
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 Comice pears, (6 to 7 ounces each)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Note: I couldn’t find nonfat buttermilk, so I used low fat. It worked fine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
Pulse saffron and 1/4 cup sugar in a spice grinder until well combined. Put butter and saffron sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. The recipe suggests using a rubber spatula, but I found a spoon to be easier to spread it.
Whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Stir in crystallized ginger.
Peel pears; halve lengthwise, and core. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut pears lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively in pan over saffron-butter mixture. Only the first layer has to be laid down decoratively. You won’t even see the pears underneath the top layer, so I just piled them in.

Spread batter over pears. Bake until set and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
Place a serving platter upside down over pan; flip to unmold cake. Peel off parchment.
The butter and sugar and saffron seep into the cake, making a delicious glaze on the top.

And voila! The finished cake. It’s absolutely delicious.

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These cupcakes were so good. They are pure Martha Magic. They are not too sweet and incredibly moist. They taste like apple cider. The buttercream works perfectly with them, though they would probably be good on their own with just a dusting of powdered sugar.
To Make the Cupcakes

Makes 2 Dozen
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely shredded apples, such as Macintosh (about 1 3/4 pounds)
I highly recommend shredding the apples first, then cleaning up before you do anything else. I shredded them while the butter and sugar were mixing and my kitchen looked like an orchard threw up on it. Even though I shredded the apples in my Cuisinart, the sticky juice and stray apple shreds got everywhere. While it won’t affect the cupcakes, its better for your sanity.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; mix in apples.

Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.

Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Actually, I filled mine more than halfway, but they still came out normal height. Maybe my muffin pans are smaller than Martha’s. I’m not really sure.
Remove cupcakes from tins; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

To Make the Buttercream
Makes about 4 cups
4 large egg whites
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons

In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Transfer to the clean bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes. Raise speed to high; beat until stiff peaks form.

Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated.
This is where I started having problems. I’ve never made buttercream before, so I didn’t realize how tempermental it could be. I learned after the fact that you can overwhip it, causing it to overheat and separate. Apparently if this happens, you can chill it and try rewhipping it. I didn’t do this, because it tasted fine. It just was slightly lumpy and not as smooth and pretty as Martha’s.

If you see lumps, it is not butter that hasn’t been fully incorporated. So stop whipping.
In any event, it still tasted fine, so I frosted the cupcakes. And to try to disguise the lumpy frosting, I sprinkled some pretty fall colored sugar on them. I definitely recommend storing these in the fridge because the frosting won’t really hold up otherwise. You can let them come to room temperature before eating them though.

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