Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin cupcakes

Pumpkin cupcake with a jack-o'-lantern on top

I just couldn't hold out anymore. Despite the pile of apples I still have, I just can't take another apple recipe, especially when pumpkin season is already upon us and Halloween is just days away. So I caved and stocked up on cans of pumpkin puree (if it's good enough for every chef on the Food Network, it's good enough for me), and here we go, it's pumpkin time.

This recipe was a nice combination of practicing things I know and new things I hadn't tried, 'cause I decided to make these Halloween-y and make my own jack-o'-lantern decorations. I'd never worked with fondant before, and I'd always heard it tastes horrible, so I did a little research online, and what I discovered is that Duff Goldman's brand of fondant is actually supposed to taste pretty decent. I won't buy a product just 'cause it has a famous chef's name on it, but if the product is actually good, I'm all for it. And this stuff's not bad. It tastes like buttercream, really buttery buttercream. I wouldn't want to eat a ton of it, 'cause it's basically chewy frosting, but it's not bad.

Fondant pumpkin Finished jack-o'-lantern

I was really impressed with how these came out, too, 'cause I had a picture in my head of how they'd look, but I've never worked with fondant before, so I was prepared for them to look stupid. But they don't. They look adorable! And they're just like I pictured in my head. I put together some fondant, some gel food color and an edible-ink pen, and I created these cute little buggers. Even my boyfriend remarked, "aw, those are kinda cute." :) They're not all identical, but I wasn't trying for that -- I figured that you almost never see two pumpkins alike in nature, so mine wouldn't be, either.

And oh yeah, the cupcakes are pretty tasty, too. They also made the house smell so good that I had all I could do not to scarf them all down straight out of the oven, cooling and frosting be damned.

Dry ingredients I will not eat them now, I will not eat them now...

Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 stick, room temperature
1 c dark brown sugar
1/3 c sugar
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c canned pumpkin (NOT pie mix, just pumpkin)

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 c confectioners’ sugar
1/4 c maple syrup (the real stuff, not pancake syrup)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin cups with cupcake papers.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars on medium until fluffy.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper.
4. To the first bowl, beat in the eggs one at a time.
5. Beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture, alternating between them, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
6. Beat in the pumpkin until incorporated.
7. Fill the cupcake cups about 3/4 full. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
8. Let cool a few minutes, then de-pan onto a rack to cool completely.
9. Beat together all of the frosting ingredients on medium until fluffy. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.

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