Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Potluck Recipe #36: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Yesterday Operations Director Kent Linder brought these pumpkin spice cupcakes to our Food Day celebration, a delicious reminder of the sweeter side of good food. Kent used real pumpkin in the cupcakes, which made them even tastier. Of course, there's nothing "unreal" about canned pumpkin, but like most things in the food world, homemade pumpkin puree is so much more flavorful, it's like a different creature altogether.

To make your own pumpkin puree, simply cut your pumpkin in half, pull out the seeds and stringy bits, and bake the pumpkin halves in tinfoil at 325 degrees for one hour or until tender. Scrape the meat out and puree it in a blender; if you're dealing with the Great Pumpkin, you may need to do this in batches. And voila: You have the base for pie, pudding, bread, ravioli, soup -- and these fantastic cupcakes.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

(Adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse)

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh, pumpkin puree
½ cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground clove
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 2 12-cup muffin pans with cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In a separate, medium size mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree with the buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix well. In another medium size mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and clove and mix well. In thirds, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the creamed butter, blending gently after each addition.
4. Using an ice cream scoop or a ¼ cup measure, divide the batter evenly among the 24 cupcake wells and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cupcake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
5. Cool the cakes on a wire rack in the pans for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool on the wire racks until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until smooth and fluffy.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined.
3. Beat on high speed until smooth and fluffy. (If frosting is too thick, thin with a bit of milk to obtain desired consistency.) Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

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