Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Cucpakes!

I love Halloween so making cupcakes was a must. I had lots of fun planning what to make and then executing it. Thanks to my mom for helping and I'm glad dad supervised the creative details.

I began with a good ole box of Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake. To add some flavor I decided to pipe strawberry jam in the center. First time piping jam and I was regretting buying "spreadable jam". It was really runny and hard to control. On second thought it is possible that spreadable is the best option because it may seep further into the cupcake versus just in the center. Like I said it was my first time so this is just a guess. I choose Wilton "trick or treat" baking cups.

Some of the ingredients!

For Jack Skellington I used black glitter gel and white butter cream icing (the Wilton variety).

RIP gravestone cupcakes are comprised of chocolate butter cream, a crumbled Oreo cookie, pumpkin candy corn, and a Milano cookie. Again I used the black glitter gel to write "RIP" which makes for a glitzy headstone!

Then the spider web was a little tricky. I reviewed this blog post and thought making a spider web would be easy. Wrong! I iced the cupcakes with orange and purple butter cream and then piped circles within circles with white butter cream. The next logical step is to run a toothpick through the circles. Yeah that is what I thought. The circles disappeared! I searched my iPhone safari for "how to" articles and discovered that gel is used for the circles. I just happened to have orange and black gel lying around...what do you know! I made different color combinations and here is the result:

You can't have spider web cupcakes without spiders and man do these jokers look creepy! I wondered where on earth does one find black licorice?!? Luckily my coworker said Fresh Market sells it and she was making a trip there that week. With the low, low price of $0.35 I had 4 rolls of black licorice. Thanks to my coworker for contributing to my master piece. Enter spooky laugh - wha ha ha ha! The eyes are red M&Ms and then the body is black sprinkles and more chocolate butter cream.

Last up is the Great Pumpkin! Orange butter cream, orange glitter gel, and adorable stems and leaves in green butter cream make these pumpkins look too pretty to eat.

Again the small group girls, my parents, and coworkers enjoyed these spooky treats. All in all everyone was impressed.

We had a small group pumpkin carving party and the cupcakes were a nice addition. Check out our carving abilities. Not to brag but we free handed these jack-o-lanterns. Well I eyed a stencil but I think that counts as free handing. In my book it does anyway.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

Sorry that it has been a while since my last post. Two weeks ago I was on a cruise to Key West and Nassau. I tried lots of fun desserts. The cupcakes were dried out though from sitting out too long :( Then last week I was trying to detox from all the sugar I consumed and I went to Augusta to visit my grandmother in the hospital. My grandmother has smoked for 60 years so her COPD is at it's worst and she has Shingles. She is improving and is in a 21 day rehab nursing home bed. Please pray for her and our family.

While I was in Key West I tried a frozen key lime pie slice on a stick dipped in chocolate from Kermitz's. Yummy! I could go to Key West just for this!

So today it was time to crank up that oven again! Of course I've been craving pumpkin around the clock. This recipe by Ms. Ina Garten is really easy and did not even require the use of my Kitchen aid. Tear.
I was able to bake 12 cupcakes and I did not top them with toffee bits. I cheated a bit and used the maple frosting I had left over from the whoopie pies in the freezer. The recipes are similar. Next time I will have to try the icing recipe that came with the cupcake recipe. The only concern was when I was mixing the wet ingredients I noticed that the brown sugar was clumpy. Once I added the dry mix the clumps went away. Well so I thought but when the cupcakes were done I could see clumps again!!! I tried one and didn't even notice the brown sugar lumps. Who would really mind a small innocent brown sugar lump anyway?

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
Makes 10 cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Maple Frosting (recipe follows)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.
2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
4. Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.

Maple Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Boyajian Natural Maple Flavor
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

The small group girls said, "This is really good." One friend was hesistant to try them after reading the whoopie pie post. She lived in Canada for a while and could not believe I used Publix brand syrup. Well she was an instant fan and was quoted saying, "I don't mind the Publix syrup." Later she wrote on Facebook,  "What did you put in these cupcakes? It is 11:00 p.m. and all I want to do is clean the house." Maybe I have the same ability as the character in Like Water for Chocolate. My motivation for cleaning my house while baking went into the cupcakes. You never know. It is possible.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

It is my favorite time of year which means it is also pumpkin time. Oh yeah! Some of you may not know but I'm a Thanksgiving Day baby. I like to call myself a pumpkin freak! Love trying all things pumpkinPumpkin cupcakes (which I had my first of the season last Friday and it was not the best I've had - I don't want to talk bad about the bakery - let's just say it was not Gigi's) pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin bread, pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin latte, pumpkin ice cream (yes I said ice cream - the best I've scooped is pumpkin cheesecake by my BFFs Ben and Jerry), pumpkin butter, pumpkin muffins, and of course pumpkin PIE! Do I sound like the guy in Forrest Gump? I thought so too. By the way does everyone consider Ben and Jerry their best friends forever? I'm a social worker so they are fun guys to hang out with sometimes.

Anyway now I can say I've had pumpkin whoopie pies!!! These little guys are catching on in popularity these days. And they are surprisingly easy to bake. I found the recipe on the browneyedbaker blog. Yes, this time I made sure the cream cheese AND butter were room temperature. Man was that nice. Something so simple really makes a difference. No real complications with baking today. The only thing I will say is that I had filling left over which could be because of two things I'm guessing. 1. I made my whoopie pies too big. Hmm..imagine that. The recipe yields 4 dozen assembled pies and I ended up with 2 dozen. Some are small..I promise. It is kind of like that question "how many licks does it take to eat a tootsie roll pop?". Well I wanted a lot of bites to eat my whoopie pie! 2. I used 2 tablespoons of Publix brand Original syrup and the recipe calls for pure maple syrup. I'm guessing the consistency of Publix syrup while good on pancakes is too thin for icing. Next time I plan to stick to the recipe when it calls for PURE maple syrup. I'm thinking the maple flavor would be more obvious too. I think they still taste good but I'll try anything with pumpkin so I may be a bit biased. Just a bit though!

First time freezing cream cheese icing, pumpkin purée, and 2 whoopie pies. I pray they all fare well. Before you go trying to claim the 2 whoopie pies - they are for my small group girl who is on the Daniel fast in preparation for her mission trip to Cambodia. Hence I'm praying they freeze well so she can enjoy them after the fast.

Two of my neighbors and my small group girls were lucky enough to try these jokers. One of my small group girls said "I think my roommate is going to come to Jesus through your cupcakes". I hope she likes whoopie pies too! The rest of the pies will be shared with my coworkers and momma.

Happy Fall Y'all!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling
Yield: About 4 dozen assembled whoopie pies (will vary depending on how large you make them)
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 10 to 12 minutes
For the Whoopie Pies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
5. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.