Wednesday, October 24

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I'm not going to post too much today, just a recipe, because I'm gearing up for an AWESOME BLOG HOP! Come back on Friday for ALL the details.

For today's recipe, want to share those pumpkin cupcakes I took with me to Julie's Haunted Tea last Sunday in Bay Port. Unfortunately, I was on a super time crunch when I was going to buy a pumpkin and couldn't find a jarrahdale, so I ended up with a totally new variety of Pink Pumpkin--on the upside part of the proceeds go to the fight against breast cancer.

I also decided at the last minute to "switch it up" a little, and stuff the pumpkin cupcakes with chocolaty cheese stuffing and frost them with "latte" frosting, because that way the chocolate would be a little surprise in the middle  ;-)

You'll have to go back to Saturday's post to get the recipe for the fresh pumpkin puree.

This made 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes
(or it would have done if I hadn't run out of steam after 2 doz and used the last bit of batter for a cake thing! I plopped it into the first little pan I found, dumped some of the "filling" on top, cut it in and poured myself a glass of wine!)

  • 2 2/3 c. fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 c. brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 all purpose flour
  • 1 c. REAL butter (soft)
    • unsalted is best for baking but not strictly necessary 
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (REAL)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
or you can be like me and add 2 tsp. of this stuff:

it tasted just a little to anise-y so, I added about another teaspoon of cinnamon, and of course a little allspice (about a half teaspoon or so)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans
  • OR (Optional) sub. 1/2 c. almond meal for 1/2 c. flour
    • ( never use nuts when I'm baking for something public because nut allergies seem to be really rampant, but if I were making these for home, they would be FULL of wallnuts. Or maybe my other fave, macadamea nuts).
Cream the butter and sugar

Whip in egg yolks, vanilla, pumpkin and cream

Sift together dry ingredients

I sift ALMOST nothing; this is one time when I mean it. Get out that sifter. 
Don't have one? No sweat. I'll be you've got a colander or a strainer: 

Measure you dry ingredients into the strainer
and shake it over a bowl.
Voila: sifted flour

Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients
If you're adding nuts, those go in last

  • The one place where I always measure carefully is cakes; sure, I'll dump in the vanilla by the bottle full and put in more cinnamon than ANY recipe would ever call for, but always measure out the basics exactly and with care. Butter, flour, leavening (baking soda, baking powder, and whole eggs), liquids (milk/water/wine--yes, wine--or fruit puree) need to be added exactly according to the directions. Pretty much everything else is okay to muck about with. 

Chocolate Cupcake filling:
     okay, so when I wrote up the original recipe, I came out with TWICE what I needed; I've halved the recipe for you here...but you may still have extra. But seriously can you think of anything better to spread on your toast tomorrow morning??
  •  8 oz. cream cheese OR 8 oz. mascarpone cheese OR 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder (sifted)
    • sugar and cocoa powder can be adjusted to taste; I almost double both, but I've been accused of liking things TOO flavorful
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (REAL)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • and because I like this kind of cocoa: 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • the trick to adjusting for taste on cayenne is to taste the food, then sit with a minute. Do you taste it? Is there a little burn at the back of your throat? A pleasant tingle on your tongue? That's all I'm looking for when I put pepper in my chocolate. 
Cream together cheese, cocoa, and sugar
Whip in eggs, cream, and vanilla
Stir in spices

Ginger frosting:
  • 3 c. confectioner's sugar
  • 1 stick soft butter (REAL; unsalted is best)
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (REAL)
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger 
  • You may have to slightly adjust the butter/sugar/cream ratio (adding a little more of one or the other) to get the constancy you want 
In a mixer (or using hand mixer and blow):
Cream together butter, ginger, and sugar
Add cream and vanilla
Add more cream or more sugar to adjust consistency 

I usually make the frosting as well as the cupcakes the night before and chill everything over night. 

How to put it all together:

There are multiple ways to stuff cupcakes. I'm basically lazy and have found this to be the less labor intensive method.

Fill your cupcake liners only 1/3 to 1/2 full of batter

 use a spoon to create an indent or little crater in the batter. Spoon in some of the filling (a level teaspoon or so)

the cupcakes in the SECOND line have craters

Plop a little more batter on top. REMEMBER: You never want a fully full cupcake, they rise.

Bake at 350 (F) for 10-20 minutes (depending on size of muffin pan).

TREAD LIGHTLY while those cupcakes are in the oven. Y'all might not be old enough to have had to deal with mama's wrath when you came tromping in from outside and caused her cake to fall... not a pretty sight, folks. Store bought mixes don't seem as prone to falling, cakes from scratch are a different sort of animal. A very temperamental animal.

Also: resist the urge to peek into the oven too soon. That will also cause a most unwanted fall.

Don't remove them from the pan until they're cool. Yes, that means lots of lag time. This is a great time to read a book! (or clean up the kazillion dishes you've dirtied baking... nah, I think I'll read!)

Do not frost until cupcakes are completely cool; the best method is to cover snuggly with plastic (this keeps the moisture in) and refrigerate over night (and these DO need to be refrigerated at all times because of the cream cheese! Please, do NOT poison your guests!!)

I made some changes to the original recipe I found for pumpkin cake (the recipe above reflects those changes). Originally it had about twice as much butter; I cut it back but still found the cupcakes a tad greasy for my taste, so next time, I'll just use one stick of butter (half a cup). The chocolate filling was a little too gooey, so I've swapped out a T of cream for a T of flour; hopefully that will solve the issue of the middles sinking quite so badly after they cool. 

The reason I'm including my notes is to illustrate that cooking is trial and error. Nobody gets it right on the very first try; you have to tweak recipes to make meals that are satisfying to YOU. That's why I'm always saying so many things are subjective!

Next week, I'll be trying a new take on pumpkin soup...

And don't forget Friday starts the new blog hop! I have something very special planned for EACH day of the Hop.

And just for fun, here are some pictures of my own pink pumpkin puree adventure  ;-) 

They're a lot tougher to cut into than pie pumpkins, but no harder to hack up than jarrahdales. Basically, you need a big sharp knife, a cutting board, and lots of elbow grease!

so here it is, a pretty pink pumpkin 
weighing in at about 15 lbs

I discovered that I was out of olive oil
but my husband bought soy oil

The only oils I don't like are
"mystery oil"
I want to know exactly where
what I'm cooking with came from
(and no, I don't eat hot dogs either
unless they're Kosher or tofu)

The first wedge is definitely the hardest to get out!

But look at that beautiful bright yellow-orange flesh!
The scent was a lot like a jarrahdale's:
very mild pumpkin and apples

Getting the second piece was a lot easier

Author vs. Pumpkin
Author wins! Pumpkin decimated!

Next step: getting out the "guts" and seeds:

And slowly, my entire counter is taken over...

I decided to cut the pieces in half

Next, a little vinegar and then some soy oil
If you put your finger over top of the bottle thusly
you can "sprinkle" it fairly easily

and then of course sprinkle with brown sugar

For the seeds, oil, garlic powder, and salt:

Then cover the pieces w/ foil and pop it all in the oven

And a little over an hour later....
please don't pay attention to the MESS my stove is!

The real challenge is going to be 
saving seeds for my hubby. 
They are SOOOO tender and yummy.
If the flavor of the seeds is an indication
this is one scrumptious pumpkin!

yeah, I know, I need to scrub my stove.

The thickest cuts took a little longer to cook,
so I went ahead and started pulling pieces that were done
after about an hour. The thickest cuts took an hour and a half.

If you're wondering why they're in a pot...
it was there and I had hot pumpkins in my hands!
(not literally, but I was scrambling to find a place to put them
and the pot was sitting on the stove).

When it was done, the next step was to let it cool and run it through the food processor....slowly. A few hunks at a time. When it got too hard for the processor to move it, I tossed in a little apple juice I happened to have in my fridge.

And noticing how soft my hands felt after being literally up to my elbows in pumpkin goo, I decided to use some of the copious amount of it as a face mask later on! Who needs a fancy spa day, anyway? Some of it even went into my over night hair conditioning treatment--pumpkin, honey, my home made growth-promoting oil/herb blend, egg yolk, and Greek yogurt. My hair LOVED it. So did my face (same ingredients only instead of hair oil, I use olive oil) Thank goodness! Do you SEE how much pumpkin I have? And I really want another one just for the seeds!

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