Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

October 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Posted in cupcakes, sweet things | 14 Comments
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pumpkin cupcakes

Some days I do not know what the heck I’m doing.  I put toothpaste on my Clarisonic.  I almost forget the pumpkin in my pumpkin cupcakes.  Luckily, I usually realize something’s amiss before it’s too late, so both my face and my cupcakes wound up alright…this time.

Speaking of forgetting the pumpkin, I once had a British guy point out to me that all this “American baked pumpkin stuff” just tastes like spices, so why bother with the pumpkin at all?  I’d never really thought about that before, and I guess he was almost right about the taste, but I certainly do think there’s reason to bother.  Not only does pumpkin puree make quickbreads and cakes nice and moist, (and orange, of course), but I think that pumpkin has a bit of earthiness to it, keeping them from being just sweet spice cakes.  Also squash makes cupcakes healthier??  Maybe I’m kidding myself there.  I do happen to love the fall spices, though, and these cupcakes have just the right amount.  And what do I need to say about cream cheese frosting, except for “yes please”?

These are a great treat anytime in the cooler weather, but add a few black and orange sprinkles and they turn into Halloween cupcakesHappy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cupcakes- makes 18-20 cupcakes
from Leite’s Culinaria, but seen all over the interwebs in both cupcake and layer cake form

Steph’s Note:  Don’t need that many cupcakes?  Make a half-batch to get 9-10, and halve the frosting as well.

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

-Preheat the oven to 350° (180°C) and prepare your cupcake tins with paper liners.

-In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.

-Add the eggs to the mixer, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Divide the batter equally between the lined cups–they should be about 3/4 full.

-Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 to 24 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the tins and onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
by me

Steph’s Note:  You can see from my photo that this frosting is soft…the kind to spoon on instead of pipe.  Using a small amount of natural maple flavor instead the larger amount of maple syrup helps, as does preparing the frosting while the cupcakes are baking and then refrigerating it until the cakes are cool.  Cutting back on the powdered sugar (oddly) also helps stiffen up a cream cheese frosting if that’s what you prefer..

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese (full-fat or reduced-fat Neufchâtel), at cool room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup or 1 tsp natural maple flavor
pinch of salt

-In a food processor, zip the confectioner’s sugar first to break up any lumps.  Add the other ingredients and process until smooth, scraping as needed.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

October 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Posted in cupcakes, sweet things | 14 Comments
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devil's food cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I needed a little weekend baking project to help take my mind off the Frankenstorm that’s coming our way.  Spooky.  It’s time for Halloween cupcakes anyway…I make them every year, mostly to use my orange and black sprinkles.  I think devil’s food is appropriate for Halloween, and it helps that it’s my favorite species of chocolate cake.  I have a particular fondness for oil-based devil’s food like this one from Zoë Bakes.  So moist, oh my gosh.  And isn’t cream cheese frosting good on just about any cake?  Looking forward to eating one of these from the fridge tonight.

Happy Halloween, and stay safe (and dry)!

devil's food cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Devil’s Food Cupcakes- makes 3 dozen
from Zoë Bakes

Steph’s Note:  I made one-third of the cupcake recipe below to get one dozen cupcakes, but I still used the full amount of frosting.

3 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed), sifted if lumpy.
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup hot coffee
1/4 cup rum or brandy (or replace with extra coffee)

Heat the oven to 350°F and prepare 3 dozen muffin tins with papers

-Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk until combined, set aside.

-Whisk together, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the hot coffee and rum to the batter and whisk until totally blended and smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be quite runny.

-Fill a measuring cup or pitcher (you can fill directly from the mixing bowl if you have a steady hand) with the batter and then fill the muffin cups about 2/3 – 3/4 full.

-Bake the cupcakes for about 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

-Allow to cool completely on a cake rack, removing the cupcakes from the tin after about 15 minutes, and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from Zoë Bakes

Steph’s Note:  I used the full amount of frosting to decorate 12 cupcakes.

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon golden syrup (can substitute with honey)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

-Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and cream together until smooth.  (I used a hand mixer for this.)

Sour Cream Cupcakes

October 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Posted in cupcakes, sweet things | 8 Comments
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sour cream cupcakes

Yes, Halloween is all about candy, and I’m psyching myself up to sit on my stoop for hours tomorrow passing out Milky Ways and M&M’S to the neighborhood zombies and trolls.  (Unless I am bitten by a vampire, I plan to hoard the Reese’s Cups for myself, btw.)  Every year, though, I force myself to make Halloween cupcakes in an effort to use up my ghost cupcake liners and my orange and black sprinkles. I think I have one year left on the liners, but probably ten on the sprinkles…maybe I should “accidentally” spill them!

I only just now realized that you can’t really even see the actual cupcake in this photo…my bad…but they look, you know, like cupcakes.  I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now because it real flavor from the sour cream and vanilla.  Also, they are soft and moist, but they’re sturdy…they don’t have a messy, fall-to-pieces-when-you-bite-them crumb.  I think they’d make perfect birthday cupcakes.  When I make cupcakes, I often use them as an excuse to clear out the bits and pieces from the fridge, and the frosting here is just a little leftover dark chocolate ganache.

I’m kepping this short and sweet because a car alarm has been going off outside my window for the past fifteen minutes. Ahh, city living…I can hardly hear myself think.  Happy Halloween!

Sour Cream Cupcakes- makes about 18
from a recipe by Anne Burrell

Steph’s Note:  The original recipe claims this makes 12 cupcakes…maybe that’s for a jumbo tin(?), because it really yields about 18 standard size cupcakes.  Here, I made a 1/3 recipe and got six.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper cups.

-Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

-In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy.  Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

-Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Slowly add the vanilla, milk and sour cream.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.  With the mixer on medium speed, gradually mix in the flour.

-Fill the prepared muffin cups about 2/3 of the way, dividing the batter evenly among the lined cups.

-Put in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-22 minutes.  Rotate the tin about halfway through.

-The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cake.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, then frost and decorate.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

October 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Posted in cupcakes | 11 Comments

one-bowl chocolate cupcakes

I don’t equate cupcakes with Halloween, but every year I do whip up a batch to celebrate the day (and possibly come one step closer to using up my never-ending jar of  orange and black sprinkles).  Last year they were vanilla, this year they’re chocolate.  I’d say that I’ve been a little choco-deprived lately, as the last true chocolate treat I made here was back in August…but that would be a total lie, since all week I’ve been pillaging the stash of Reese’s and Kit Kats that I supposedly bought for the neighborhood children!

Really, I’ve been wanting to make Martha Stewart’s One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes for ages…a good friend told me it’s the recipe she always makes for her kids.  For something so easy (you go from zero to cake in about 25 minutes), they are surprisingly good.  Perfectly moist, not too crumbly (cupcakes that fall to pieces when you unwrap them tick me off) and a fast chocolate fix.

The frosting was just a quickie, no measurements, cream cheese frosting with enough matcha powder added to look the color of Frankenstein’s face, or maybe pond scum.   Gruesome, as my grandmother would say (not to mention a little too strong on the matcha).  Happy Halloween!!

one-bowl chocolate cupcakes

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes- makes about 18
adapted from marthastewart.com

Steph’s Note: Don’t worry if your batter seems a little loose or runny…it’ll still become cake in the oven!

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.  Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

-Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.  Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 18-20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed.  Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

October 30, 2009 at 11:52 am | Posted in cupcakes, sweet things | 14 Comments

vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting

In order to keep myself from unloading a bag of fun size KIT KATs straight into my mouth, it’s time I bake up my annual Halloween cupcakes…annually featuring these black and orange sprinkles.  What??  I only get one chance a year to use them!  I just hope they never go bad, because I’ve still barely made a dent in the jar (so expect to see them for years to come!).

This is a recipe that I came across in Everyday Food, so not only are they easy cupcakes to eat, they are also ridiculously easy to make!  And the flavor’s just a simple vanilla on vanilla, so they’d be good anytime of year.  The cakes had a good texture– they were nice and moist, even on day three (stored in the fridge, and brought to room temp before eating).  I don’t often whip up this type of powdered sugar and butter frosting.  While it may not have the refined, melt-in-your-mouthiness that my favorite Swiss meringue buttercreams have, it’s homey and familiar, and I like it a lot.

vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes– makes 12
from Everyday Food (October 2005)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

-With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Beat in vanilla.

-With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture and sour cream in alternating batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

-Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the top is springy to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before spreading with frosting.

Vanilla Frosting– makes 1 cup
from Everyday Food (October 2005)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt

-In a small bowl, beat together butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy. Use immediately, or cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate up to 3 days. Before using, bring to room temperature.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

October 28, 2008 at 4:56 am | Posted in cupcakes, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 38 Comments

chocolate-chocolate cupcakes

Growing up, Halloween was totally my favorite holiday (or sort-of holiday, really).  I was like Linus, waiting all year for the Great Pumpkin to appear.  I went trick-or-treating long after I really should have stopped…until I was 16!  Every year, when I would get home with my loot, I’d go immediately to my bedroom, tip the contents of my plastic pumpkin onto the floor and form a sort of crude candy hierarchy out of it.  Things like raisins, Raisinets, Chunky Bars and Good ‘N Plenty went immediately to my parents.  Then the chocolate bars were divided into order of preference– Kit Kats, Twix, Charleston Chew and Reese’s were at the top of the heap.  From the “other” category, I was a special fan of rootbeer Dum Dums and Now and Laters.  I wouldn’t gorge on the candy, but it eat it slowly and methodically over the month of November…the whole process seems quite demented now that I think about it. 

When Clara of I Heart Food4Thought asked us to put a costume on the Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes she’d chosen for TWD, I was happy to get in the spirit of things, so to speak.  I was chin-deep in packing materials when I made these, however, so I didn’t have too much time for creativity– thank goodness for colored sprinkles! 

If you have Dorie’s book, you may notice that my cupcakes don’t look quite the same as hers, and it’s not just that mine are crawling with spiders!  I finally polished off a bag of white chocolate pistoles, that had been my life’s mission to use up before I left Sydney, by making white chocolate frosting instead of dark. (That accomplished, I’ll now have to find a new, and hopefully less frivolous, life’s mission.)  I didn’t actually measure the powdered sugar in the frosting recipe…just kept adding until it was spreadable.

chocolate-chocolate cupcakes

These were good…nothing life-altering, buy hey, they’re just simple chocolate cupcakes after all.  I’d make them again, though, for sure.  Do test them early, as there were several reports of dry cupcakes in the TWD group…I pulled mine from the oven about two minutes before the recommended time, and they were just fine.  For the recipe, look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read CB’s post.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what over 250 other people had to say!  Happy Halloween!!

Leftover Bostini Cream Cupcakes

October 31, 2007 at 6:58 am | Posted in cupcakes, sweet things | 12 Comments

Bostini cream cupcakes

Boy, even though I scaled back that Bostini cream pie recipe I made along with the Daring Bakers, I still had a ton of stuff leftover!  Enough to make Bositini cream cupcakes!  I had baked my chiffon cakes in a muffin tin, so they were in cupcake form already.  I just cut a bit out from the center of each, filled them with leftover custard and topped them with glaze that had cooled to frosting consistency.

Bostini cream cupcakes

I may be too old to knock on doors for candy, but I still like Halloween treats!

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