Pumpkin is an ingredient that flavors a wide variety of dishes surprisingly well. Some of my personal favorite pumpkin flavored foods are pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin spice bread, pumpkin empanadas and, of course, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing. One of my goals for Halloween this year is to actually carve a pumpkin and use the insides to make some of my favorite dishes. Until then, pumpkin in a can will do the trick. I began my pumpkin baking endeavors last weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving. My contribution to the table: pumpkin cupcakes with orange cream cheese icing. They were a huge hit and were consumed ferociously by my Big Auntie C and Grandpa sitting at the far end of the table – I was a little peeved when there were none left for me.
The recipe for these cupcakes is quite simple and would be a fantastic finger food dessert to serve at a fall themed party.
Zoe McKinnell is a senior at Brown University. She loves eating and baking cupcakes of all types.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing (slightly altered from Smitten Kitchen)
For the cupcakes:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing 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 – whisked
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
For the frosting:
One (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (and more depending on the texture)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Red and yellow, or orange, food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350°F and fill a cupcake tray with liners. Blend all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ of the way. Bake the cakes for about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool.
Blend all the frosting ingredients together until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add more confectioners’ sugar until the texture is thick enough. I found it difficult to produce a nice orange color in the icing using red and yellow food coloring. The ratio should be about 1 drop red to 2 drops yellow but it really does depend on the color intensity you prefer. If orange food coloring is available, I would suggest using that to color the frosting.
Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost the tops and decorate with green or black sprinkles.
Et Voila! A perfect fall treat.