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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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There’s something about the smell of pumpkin that just screams autumn. The warm mix of spices and pale orange color seems to always bring me back to when I was younger and went to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, passing around beets, mashed potatoes, kielbasa and my Aunt Carol’s pumpkin roll. We sat around three tables lined up, laughing and eating. Hearts warm and bellies full, a few adults would nod off one by one and us children would contemplate our Christmas lists for the upcoming month.

As I got older, I spent less time worrying about what I’d get for Christmas and more time enjoying the gifts the season brought me- warm doughnuts from the cider mill, bundling up in sweatshirts to go apple picking, bringing in firewood for the fireplace, and the brilliant colors of the leaves as they changed. I miss the golden yellows, rich oranges, and reds ranging from bright scarlet to crimson. I miss Michigan.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Texas. I love the people, I love their pride for Texas, and their unconditional love for it. I love their kindness, the hospitality. I love my college’s traditions, the sense of family I get every time I attend a football game. I can see myself living here for years to come. But deciding to attend college here has done a complete flip on what I’m use to. I doubt I can remember what a pine tree looks like, and I’m sure chipmunks are extinct. I’ve eaten more mexican and seafood this past month than I have in several months back home. Real cowboys exist, and the weather seems to remain a constant, comfortable temperature. However, being the oddball northerner I am, I wear shorts and a tank top on this “brisk” 78 degree day, whereas my fellow college students wear jeans and sweatshirts. I love Texas so much, but I can’t help but miss what I grew up on.

Last weekend I visited my father and decided to celebrate the month of October with pumpkin cupcakes. Ever since the end of September I’ve been so excited for all things autumn and Halloween- pumpkin pie being top on this list. However, without the changing colors of leaves or dropping of temperatures to remind me that it is, in fact, autumn, pumpkin cupcakes seemed like the perfect fix to my minor homesickness. And they really did satisfy. Subtly spicy and extremely moist cake, creamy frosting that isn’t overly sugary, they brought me back to every Thanksgiving spent with my family. Just what I need after spending my days in the dorms and library, studying for midterms.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Brown Eyed Baker

I cut the recipe in half to make approx. 18 cupcakes, but this recipe is the full which makes around 32. And let me tell you, 32 would be plenty fine with me! They’re so delicious!

Ingredients

Cupcakes:
4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2½ cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1½ cups canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until just combined. Add pumpkin; beat until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 3 days in airtight containers.

4. To finish, use an offset spatula or a pastry bag fitted with a decorated tip to top the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container; before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

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Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

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I have a confession: I’m slightly addicted to ganache.
It’s my guilty pleasure. Ever since the bakery moved into the plaza 10 minutes from my house, I’ve been hooked. I’d walk the guide dog I was training down to the shop, and grab myself a muffin, or eat the free samples of cake, or stare at the beautifully arranged tortes.

But, the best dessert of the whole bakery are these gluten free brownies, which taste like a blend of fudge and a dense brownie. On top there is a thick layer of rich, creamy ganache, where it is kept slightly chilled. At only a dollar each, it’s hard to keep myself from buying the whole batch, but usually I’d gather up some sort of self control and treat myself to a single brownie. Then I eat it as slow as humanly possible.

A friend of mine asked if he could make cupcakes with my help. I loved the idea, especially because it gave me an excuse to make this one recipe I had been eying that I had found on the Martha Stewart website. The idea of cupcakes covered in bittersweet ganache made my mouth water. So we went shopping for the ingredients I didn’t already have and went with it.

But holy cow, my friend cannot cook. I love the kid, but it was probably the funniest thing that day watching him try to figure things out. When trying to put sugar into a measuring cup, he scooped tiny spoonfuls into it and asked, “is this enough”?

The cup was 3/4 full.

Overall though he was a great help. It was interesting trying to scoop the batter into the paper cups, since I don’t own an ice cream scooper that is a half circle. Instead, we took giant ladles and transfered it to the cups, catching the drips with a spoon. It took us a while until we were able to successfully learn the lag time between scooping, dripping, and transferring.

The cakes turned out nice and dark thanks to the cocoa, and were really moist. The ganache frosting was delicious, creamy, and tasted similar to the bakery’s frosting. The only problem was the little bumps in the frosting, and although it didn’t taste rough or lumpy, it did make them look a bit odd close up. But, I’m sure no one was staring at them, but instead trying to see how fast they could shove them in their mouths. At least, that was my brother’s goal.

Ganache fix: satisfied.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Cupcake- Makes around 30

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Frosting- Makes 4 cups

  • 1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup

Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
Beginning near the center and working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream until mixture is combined and smooth (do not overstir).

Refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes, until frosting just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately (ganache will continue to thicken after you stop stirring

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish with chocolate curls just before serving.