November 19, 2009

Fall = Craving Pumpkin Baked Goods

Here in sunny California, fall isn't as dramatic of a season as it is in other parts of the country. There is the occasional tree with orange leaves and a slight drop in temperature, but overall, outside, fall here is more of a gradual shift from summer to winter than a distinct entity. To compensate, I like to bring fall into the kitchen with a pumpkin here, a pumpkin there, plenty of apples, and a generous dose of cinnamon.  


For me, fall is a mindset I automatically fall into when school starts late August/early September. Once that time of the year hits, I start craving "autumn foods" like: warm apple crumble, moist pumpkin bread, and homey vegetable soups. Especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I seem to have pumpkin on my mind. So let me share with you a lovely pumpkin cupcake recipe.

Last fall, I spotted these adorable chocolate pumpkins on the blog Cake on the Brain and knew I had to learn how to make them. I clicked on the link and learned about the amazing substance known as plastic chocolate. It's made from only two ingredients and tastes like a grown-up Tootsie Roll: soft and chewy and as sweet or as bitter as the chocolate you use.


Of course after making all those pumpkins, I needed to decorate something with them. To fulfill my fall-induced pumpkin cravings, I baked up some moist pumpkin cupcakes, frosted them with a cream cheese frosting, and then topped them with the chocolate pumpkins. They were well-received by my friends and family, and thus a new autumn tradition was born.

Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe
adapted from... I'm not sure where, anyone know?

1 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
15 oz pumpkin
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla extract. In a separate container, mix together the milk and pumpkin till homogeneous. Then in another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to butter mixture and carefully mix. Then add 1/3 of the milk/pumpkin mixture and mix. Continue to alter the remaining thirds of the two mixtures until you have a smooth cupcake batter.

Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners and fill each cup about 2/3-3/4 of the way full with your cupcake batter. Place your pans in the oven and bake them for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Once done, let them cool for a few minutes in the pan, then carefully remove all your cupcakes onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
adapted from... forgot, anyone know?

8 oz cream cheese
5 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar 1/4-1/2 cup at a time until all the powdered sugar is mixed in and no lumps remain. Finally mix in the vanilla.

Plastic Chocolate Recipe
adapted from Cake on the Brain

8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup corn syrup

Melt your chocolate either in the microwave or on a double boiler on the stove. Take the chocolate off the heat and pour in the corn syrup. Mix vigorously until the mixture begins to stop sticking to the sides of the bowl. Pour the clump onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a sheet, wrap up in the plastic and refrigerate the mixture overnight. Before using, take the plastic chocolate out 30 minutes prior to use for it to soften and become pliable.

NOTE: If you're only need the plastic chocolate to decorate your cupcakes, I suggest that your divide this recipe either in half or by 4. The cupcake and frosting recipes can easily be halved to make just a dozen cupcakes instead of two dozen. Also, mini cupcakes can be made as well with a mini muffin pan, just shorten the baking time accordingly and make smaller chocolate pumpkins.



NOTE: For a tutorial with actual step-by-step photos, check out the tutorial on Cake on the Brain.

Making Chocolate Pumpkins
Plastic chocolate
Toothpicks
Sheet of plastic wrap

Pinch off a chunk of plastic chocolate and roll it into a ball. With the side of your toothpick, press five lines into the ball as indicated in the illustration above. Then place the ball onto a clean surface, like a piece of plastic wrap or even the wrap you used to refrigerate the plastic chocolate in, and poke a slight hole in the center of the top of the ball. Next, pinch off a small bit of the plastic chocolate and roll it between your finger tips on one side to make a point, like a carrot. Stick the point into the hole you made earlier to form the stem of your pumpkin.


To form the leaf, pinch off a small amount of the chocolate plastic and shape it into an oval. Place it on your plastic wrap and with the tip of your toothpick, press one line into the center of the oval, lengthwise, flattening the oval in the process. Next, press two diagonal lines on each side of the central line to make the leaf veins. Now carefully peel your leaf off the plastic wrap and place it onto your pumpkin with one tip touching the steam.

You have finished your first chocolate pumpkin. Now repeat until your have enough pumpkins to decorate all your cupcakes. You might need multiple toothpicks because once a toothpick starts to become sticky, the lines made aren't as clear, which means it's time for a new toothpick. To finish off your cupcakes, place your favorite icing tip into a piping bag and fill it up with frosting. Ice all your cupcakes; I like to leave a the outer rim of the cupcake unfrosted because I like the contrast of the orange, brown, and white. Lastly, top your cupcakes with all the chocolate pumpkins you molded and enjoy!

7 comments:

  1. I just came across your blog and already love it! :) These cupcakes look so perfect! I love the little pumpkin on top!

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  2. Oh I just love the little chocolate pumpkins! These cupcakes are so adorable.

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  3. Can you please do a tutorial or take pictures step by step on how you piped the cream cheese? (:

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  4. Anonymous: Sure! Next time I make cupcakes, I'll try to do a frosting piping tutorial. Thanks for the suggestion.

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