Monday, November 1, 2010

Fresh Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

This Saturday was a wonderfully relaxing day at home, and as we watched football and cleaned up the house I was hit with a major baking urge. The pie pumpkin that had been sitting on my kitchen counter was my main inspiration, and I wanted to roast and puree the pumpkin, then bake it into something tasty. I searched tons of recipes online, and ended up choosing a classic pumpkin spice cake. While I'm not a huge cupcake fan, it seemed like a much easier way to share treats at the party we were going to that night. I wanted to pipe the icing, which lead me to pick a simpler, more sturdy looking icing recipe. The pumpkin cupcakes were moist and dense, and the combination of spices added more flavor to the cake. The icing was rich and just sweet enough. While these weren't the most creative cupcakes you'll find on cooking blogs, they are a great simple recipe that captures the flavors of fall. The cupcakes received rave reviews at Saturday's Halloween party, and leftovers were quickly taken care of when I brought them to work on Sunday!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk first 9 ingredients (through cardamom) in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin, sugar, and oil in another large bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Mix in orange peel. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Fill liners about 2/3 full with batter.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Move cupcakes to wire rack, and cool completely before frosting.

Makes 25-30 cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Want to try to make your own pumpkin puree? It's really easy, as long as you have a little time and the right equipment. I used some tips from The Pioneer Woman, and added a little of my own insight. Basically, quarter and seed the pumpkins, then roast at 350 until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Don't rush this part-- if the pumpkin is not tender enough, it will not puree well. When it's nice and tender, scrape the cooked pumpkin into a food processor, and process until the pumpkin is completely pureed. If it seems dry, or isn't getting very smooth, add a little water. When the pumpkin is a nice puree, drain it in a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth, to let some of the extra water out. If you're not using all the pumpkin, freeze in 1 cup portions for later use.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween! Next up is every foodies favorite holiday... Thanksgiving! I've already started thinking about what I can contribute to this year's feast. Have you?

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