so i just finished watching bobby “boris” pickett’s “monster mash” video for the 10th time in two days, i’m humming “thriller” to myself and am currently sporting a jcrew skull and cross bones headband and orange and black tank/sweater combo… SOMEONE is in the mood for all hallow’s eve this year! my festive mood has driven me to bake halloween treats for everyone at my office (and if there are leftovers, at the rink tonight): pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting! mmmm.
my artistic shortcomings were fairly apparent with my decorating, but i’m hoping the extremely autumnal taste makes up for how they look. if pumpkin pie dressed up as a cupcake… this would be it. by the way… why aren’t pumpkin pies bigger at halloween? they save themselves for thanksgiving, but that seems a bit odd to me.
also, completely unrelated side note: as i was driving to work this morning, i saw a man in a little green car that bore a striking resemblance to kris kringle. that got me thinking that i think the best costume investment one could make would be a santa costume. you could dress up as santa every year for halloween and then break it out again at the end of december! costumes are expensive, i think, so it’d be pretty dece to kill two birds with one stone. anyways, i digress…
i adapted a couple of different recipes to my own liking and have created some extremely festive (if not excessively sweet) cupcakes. now it’s your turn to learn how to make them!
for the cupcakes:
(i’d say this recipe yields about two dozen. but when i looked at the original and saw that it was going to make 18, i thought “that’s not enough halloween cheer! i should double it.” FAIL. the original would have been enough for two dozen and instead, i got overflowing mixing bowls, 36 cupcakes and two small circular cakes out of it, too. trust me… no need to double this recipe unless you’re feeding a small army.)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cups (two sticks) unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
three large eggs (lightly beaten)
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin pie filling (to lighten the load of what i needed to buy, i bought pumpkin pie filling instead of pumpkin puree and saved about $20 on buying all-spice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. if you prefer to use pumpkin puree: increase your sugar and brown sugar to 1 cup of each, also throw in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and ground allspice)
for the frosting:
8 oz. light cream cheese (if you choose regular, it might be a little firmer/hold better than mine)
3/4 cups white sugar (since i knew the cupcakes would be a little too sweet because i didn’t lessen my sugars enough, i downgraded the recipe from 1 cup of sugar to 3/4 cup — feel free to taste test yours and add more as you see fit)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (i am so excessively heavy-handed with vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
say it with me, now: “you’re done with the COLLECTING, so it’s onto the DOING.”
first, a little prep work. (1) line your cupcake tins. i chose a plain white cupcake liner because i figured my decorating skills would be enough distraction. (2) preheat oven to 350 degrees. (3) melt the butter now so it has time to cool. (yes, i know that it looks like an excessive amount of butter in this picture, but keep in mind that one stick = 8 Tablespoons so 32 Tablespoons of butter divided by 36 cupcakes and two mini cakes? it’s not terrible.)
now, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. be prepared for the blandest picture you’ll ever see on this blog.
now for some color! since i needed the eggs to be “slightly” beaten (read: not full on scrambled), i put those in a large bowl first and then added the other ingredients after that. so, eggs in bowl? check. whisked a bit? check. good, now add brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter to the eggs. mix that all together and it’ll start to look like baby food. great. then start to add in the flour mixture from the medium bowl and whisk it all together. still look like baby food? great.
i know this whole baby food analogy isn’t all that appetizing, but am i right or am i right?! now, once that’s blended together, add the pumpkin puree/pie filling and keep on whisking it all together.
drum roll, please… two-tone baby food! how festive for fall does this look? anyways, once that’s all blended together, get the batter into your cupcake liners and get ready for a delicious-smelling kitchen. filling two trays of cupcakes can get messy, so i decided to use an ice cream scoop so they were filled evenly and fairly mess-free. i saw them do this on cupcake wars before. if an ice cream scoop is good enough for them to make 1,000 cupcakes with, it’s good enough for me to make 24.
this particular ice cream scoop was left in my apartment by the previous tenants. along with some blue gatorade g2, some store brand dishwashing detergent, a lemon and two sticks of butter. you may think i’m gross for using said ice cream scoop, but a) it was cleaned and b) i KNOW the previous tenants! i considered it a housewarming gift.
as i mentioned before, i made FAR too much batter, so those little guys on the right side of the oven are small circle cakes that i made because i was looking for anything i could get my hands on to pour batter into. anyways, they obviously took longer to make than the cupcakes and quite frankly, with my busy social schedule (read: me going to the movies with someone other than myself for the first time in a month), i had to get out of the apartment to see RED before they were done. so… yeah, those aren’t being served to anyone, really.
that’s beside the point, though. i baked the cupcakes for 20 minutes and that was plenty of time for a toothpick to come out clean and for them to be a nice brown color. my movie time also gave the cupcakes time to cool (get them out of the cupcake tins and onto a wire rack ASAP) before i began frosting.
first, though, i had to MAKE the frosting. here’s how:
in a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream with an electric mixer until it thickens enough for peaks to form and hold. this took a bit longer than i thought it was going to, but it made me insanely happy that i bought a handmixer. or else, my friends, this frosting would not have been possible.
in a larger bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla beat that until it’s smooth and then begin to fold in the whipped cream from the other bowl. don’t mix it too much or else it will flatten out and you’ll be left with cheesecake guts, essentially.
then, i broke into my food coloring, divided my frosting into multiple bowls and made a fun, festive (how many times can i say that word in this entry?) orange color with about half the frosting.
then i filled my first icing bag (i only used one disposable bag and then started to use ziploc bags with the coupler and icing tip instead of wasting more of my wilton bags. i guess it’s not wasting it if you’re using them for their intended purpose. just call me frugal, i guess.)
i gave all the cupcakes an orange base and then used yellow and white frosting to make some flattened looking candy corn cupcakes (i’m calling them deconstructed candy corns because that’s what they always do on the food network) and some store bought black gel to make (ugly) witches hats, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns and “BOO” cupcakes. again, i’m reverting back to my treats looking like a four year old’s art project. but it is what it is.
i stuck them in the fridge overnight (you don’t want cream cheese sitting out overnight. i learned that the hard way when i gave myself food poisoning in eighth grade. ya know… you try to be proactive and make your lunch the night before and all you do is get punished by leaving your bagel and cream cheese on the step by your backpack for 12 hours.)
enjoy and have a safe and happy halloween!
click here for a printable version of the recipe!