An hour has passed and Aaron is still cleaning up the kitchen. We had a friend over for dinner tonight and it looks like a tornado has hit. So that the boys could enjoy an afternoon of football, I offered to handle dinner on my own. For most people, that wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but I just can't do things halfway. Homemade pappardelle, veal ragu and a batch of cupcakes had taken their toll on the kitchen. I even managed to splatter pomegranate juice on the fridge - don't ask.
I thought about posting photos of the mayhem here (friends might enjoy imagining the horrified expression on Aaron's face when he saw the destruction). I also considered writing step by step instructions for homemade pasta. Nope - that will be saved for another day. For once, I'm going to stick to the original theme of this blog. The cupcakes were outstanding.
I have had pumpkin on the brain ever since my company offsite a few weeks ago. Our Q3 "day of fun" was at one of those "pick your own" produce farms in central New Jersey. After a few hours of presentations, we were released into the fields to pick apples and pumpkins. Let me just say, I take these things VERY seriously, as I planned for my pumpkin to be more than a jack-o-lantern. Ever since I learned about the plans for the offsite, I had been dreaming of making my own pumpkin puree for pancakes, cupcakes, bread, pie... you get the idea. I scoured the patch and managed to pluck an enormous, yet very perfect pumpkin to take home.
I hauled the pumpkin home and left it in the corner of my dining room. Then I got busy. The pumpkin sat there for a few weeks... and then it molded and I was devastated. Into the garbage it went and I was pumpkin-less. Unfortunately, all of my day-dreaming about pumpkin dessert meant that I wasn't giving up until I had a chance to test a few of them. On our next trip to the grocery store, I picked up two cans of pumpkin and waited semi-patiently for an excuse to use them.
One can of pumpkin was finished off with pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. This evening's company meant I would have an excuse to try a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes that I had been eying. Aaron begged me to skip dessert and respect the fatwa. Seriously? How could I skip dessert? I think that at this point it is all but expected from our guests. Moreover, I needed to get the pumpkin obsession out of my system. As a compromise, I halved the recipe and made just 8 cupcakes.
The melted butter (as opposed to room temperature, creamed butter) and pumpkin yield a very moist but very dense cake.
Recipe after the jump!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter
yield: 8 cupcakes
Giving credit where credit is due, I found the base recipe for these cupcakes at this blog. Below is my slightly adjusted and halved version.
3 oz butter
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to 325F. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it turns a golden brown. The butter will foam and some sediment will form at the bottom of the dish. When the butter is brown, remove it from heat and pour the golden liquid into a separate bowl to stop the cooking process. If you use hold a spoon in front of the foam and pour slowly, you should be able to get just liquid and leave the foam and sediment behind.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, pumpkin, sugars, eggs and browned butter until they are combined. Next, fold the sugar/butter mixture gently into the flour mixture until just combined.
Spoon the batter into a lined cupcake pan, filling each paper about 3/4s of the way. The original instructions say to bake the cakes for about 20 minutes, but it took about 25 for mine to finish.
When the cupcakes are finished, allow them to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz butter room temperature
4 oz cream cheese room temperature
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Splash vanilla extract
2-4 cups powdered sugar
Cream 4 oz of butter in the bowl of a mixture, beating it on medium until soft and fluffy. Beat in the cream cheese until combined. Add the extract and vanilla bean seeds. Next, with the mixer on low/medium speed, gradually add powdered sugar until you reach the desired sweetness and thickness. Scoop the frosting into a pastry bag and pipe onto your cupcakes.