For the streusel: Combine the pecans, brown sugar, vegan butter, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
For the cake batter: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, mix the granulated sugar and vegan butter together on medium-low speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes; scrape down the bowl. Slowly mix in the soy milk, applesauce and vanilla and mix for 2 more minutes. Slowly add the flour mixture, and then fold in the vinegar.
Divide half of the batter among the liners, sprinkle on some of the streusel and then top with the remaining batter. Top off with more of the streusel and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
For the shortbread crust: Turn over a cupcake pan and spray the bottoms with nonstick spray.
Combine the flour, oil, soy milk, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla if using in a medium bowl and mix together with a fork; the dough will be crumbly. Refrigerate for 20 minutes in the bowl or wrapped in plastic wrap.
Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and use a circle cutter or a coffee cup to cut out circles. Cut out a very small circle in the middle of each dough circle. Place the dough circles on the bottoms of the cupcake pan and bake for 10 minutes. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar while still hot.
For the apple compote: Put the apple pieces in a medium saucepan, add the moonshine, brown sugar and vanilla and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the cinnamon frosting: Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix the vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the vanilla and mix for 2 more minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon and mix until a whipped fluffy texture, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add a splash of soy milk if needed.
For the cherry moonshine reduction: Put the maraschino cherries with their juices in a small saucepan, add the moonshine and granulated sugar, place over medium heat and bring to a small boil. Immediately add the cornstarch and let simmer for 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, and then pour the mixture through a strainer. Let cool for 15 minutes.
To assemble: Using an apple corer or paring knife, cut out the center of each cupcake. Put a generous amount (about 1 tablespoon) of the apple compote in each cupcake. Frost with a small amount of cinnamon frosting. Place a shortbread crust on top of the frosting on each cupcake. Where the hole is cut out, place a fondant finger or plastic novelty finger through the crust. Drizzle some cherry moonshine reduction over each.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Nicole Braddock