11.15.2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I first made these cupcakes on a whim a few weekends ago for a football game. The game plan is usually for my parents to bring a TON of food to my apartment if they have tickets, and all my friends will come over to eat. If my parents don't have tickets, we'll decide to make something ourselves or do a potluck type deal at my place. And I love it.

Usually, my contribution is dessert. Of course. :)



I don't really know how I feel about pumpkin. Or pumpkin spice. I really want to like the taste of pumpkins, mostly because it's so popular right now, but I don't think I really do. There are so many creative uses of pumpkin floating around food blogs and Pinterest. Pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pies, pumpkin donuts. It's everywhere! And I really wanted to contribute.

One day at the grocery store, I almost bought a can of pumpkin puree. Seriously, I stared at it for a good minute or two before I put it back on the shelf. What if I bought it, opened it to bake something, and decided  I didn't like it? A few minutes later, I was walking past the milk and coffee creamers and saw a pumpkin spice creamer. I don't know why I thought that would be a better idea, but I bought it and it turns out it was!



So, because of my uncertain feelings toward the pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavors, I decided that I couldn't go wrong with a chocolate cupcake. Right? Right! Almost everything tastes good in chocolate.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES
adapted from my Black Magic Cake recipe

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup pumpkin spice coffee creamer
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
  • Make a pot of strong coffee.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Carefully whisk them together.
  • In another large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla, oil, and pumpkin spice creamer. Mix well.
  • Measure out one cup of coffee in a heat proof measuring cup and measure out the buttermilk in another measuring cup.
  • Add half the coffee, half the buttermilk, and half of the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated.
  • Repeat: add the rest of the coffee, buttermilk, and dry ingredients.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degress. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
  • Divide batter evenly between the cupcake pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake and it comes out clean.

CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 eight oz package of cream cheese
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
  • Once the cupcakes are cool, cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. 
  • Add vanilla, milk, and cinnamon. Mix until combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  • If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar 1/4th cup at a time. If it's too thick, add milk one tablespoon at a time.
  • Then I transferred the frosting to a decorating bag with a tip, but you can frost them however you want. I also added some orange sugar sprinkles.

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Notes: For someone who doesn't really like pumpkin, I really enjoyed these cupcakes. Mainly because they were mostly chocolate, but the pumpkin spice is definitely in there. I personally found that it wasn't too strong, but if you'd like more of a pumpkin spice flavor, you could do 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of pumpkin spice creamer instead of 3/4 cups and 1/4 cups.

Originally, I wasn't sure about this cupcake + frosting combination, but they work really well together. If you're looking for something that isn't too pumpkiny for Thanksgiving, you should give these a try and let me know how it goes!

Happy early Thanksgiving!


11.06.2012

Homemade Apple Pie

I don't know about you, but Halloween this year was the best Halloween I've had in a while. Partially because I haven't really done anything for Halloween in the past few years, and partially because two of my friends had a combined Halloween birthday party!

Usually, I make birthday cakes for all my friends on their birthdays. I try to take things they like and incorporate them into the cake or include something that fits their personalities. For example, for my friend Josh's birthday last year, I made this pie-in-a-cake thing. I have some really supportive friends, who I honestly don't know what I would do without, and Josh is one of them. Josh always comes up with these crazy things for me to bake, so I made him a crazy cake that was actually one of his ideas.

I didn't know how I was going to top the Pie-ception cake this year. What kind of cake do you make someone who has already had a pie-cake? So I went to talk to him about it, and instead of a cake, he actually requested a homemade apple pie with a lattice crust on top.


Unfortunately the whole thing isn't homemade. Last week happened to also be one of the busiest weeks for me so far this semester, and I didn't want to make something for the first time, screw it up, and not have enough time to make it over. Because secretly that happens to me a lot. And I really wanted this pie to turn out well. And it did!


Also, I didn't want this to be just a regular apple pie. I wanted it to be a birthday apple pie. So I used some little alphabet cookie cutters and cut "Happy 21st Birthday Josh!" in some of the left over pie crust. I thought the letters would kind of "attach" to the other pie crust in the oven, but they didn't. I just had to move the pie carefully so the letters didn't move too much.

And to make it an official birthday pie, it had to have candles.


HOMEMADE APPLE PIE

I made the apple pie filling from scratch, but used a store bought pie crust.
The recipe I used was from Cannella Vita and includes a link to this pie crust from Smitten Kitchen.

I've never made an apple pie before, but this one was pretty much perfect. It's probably even better with the homemade pie crust, which is described as "all butter, really flaky pie dough". So I'll definitely be making that the next time I need to make a crust.

The only thing I would change from Cannella Vita's recipe is the number apples you need to buy. She says to get 8 granny smith apples, which I did, and I had more than enough apple pieces after chopping up 6 apples. And they were really tiny apples too. You can still get 8 if you want though. I'm kind of glad I had some extras because I decided to make bite-sized apple pies!



I guess they're really not 100% homemade, but YOU can make them completely homemade and they'll probably be much better than these. And these were soo good. I personally really like the taste of pie crusts, so to me, these were the perfect combination of cinnamon, brown sugar, apple, and pie crust.

BITE-SIZED APPLE PIES

To make these, I used the same recipe, but made a half recipe of the cinnamon syrup for the filling. Spray a mini cupcake pan with non-stick spray, cut out circles about 2 inches wide, fill them with some chopped up apples, and pour some of the cinnamon mixture on them. You can made the lattice pattern on them if you want, but it took awhile and it didn't even look that good. So you can omit that if you want.

I baked them on 425 for about 5 minutes, and then on 350 for 10-15 minutes. Just bake them until they're slightly golden-brown.