Halloween: A trick and two treats

I know Halloween is over and everyone is already starting to think about Thanksgiving, so why am I post-blogging about Halloween desserts?  It’s because you can make these desserts for Turkey Day or any other occasion during the winter……pumpkin cupcakes!

I offered to make cupcakes (and peanut butter candy eyeballs, which I’ll get to shortly) for a Halloween party.  Of course, I couldn’t bring just one type of pumpkin cupcake; I HAD to test two different recipes.  This is my reference to “two treats”.  The first recipe was Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream from foodnetwork.com.  The second was Ina’s (are you shocked?!) with cream cheese frosting that I adapted from housebeautiful.com. Besides the frostings, the main differences were the spices. Although both had cinnamon, Food Network’s had pumpkin pie spice and cloves, and Ina’s had nutmeg and ginger.  Another difference was FN’s also had applesauce, which helped make it extra moist.

Those peanut butter eyeballs “tricked” me half way through the recipe, so I decided to bag them all together.  I refuse to embarrass myself by presenting an incomplete sweet.  It was really the white chocolate chips that “tricked” me, as they wouldn’t melt properly to achieve the correct consistency for coating the peanut butter balls.  I promised you the “ugly” too, so here they are:

If you want to see what they are supposed to look like or try them yourself, here is a sample recipe.

More importantly, back to the cupcakes….

Here is FN’s

And BC’s

The final verdict handed down by Dave, myself and another party goer, was that the best cupcake would have been FN’s cake, with BC’s frosting.   I’ve included both recipes for you to come to your own conclusion.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin
4 large eggs
Brown Butter Buttercream (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 regular size cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt. Set the bowl aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, and pumpkin. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Mix on low until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.

3. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched with your finger, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
4 cups powdered sugar (about 2 pounds)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 to 6 tablespoons buttermilk

In a saucepan, heat ½ cup butter over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Cool.  In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the remaining ½ cup butter for 30 seconds.  Add the cooled brown butter and beat until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until spreadable. 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese 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
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

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.

For the frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A few dashes of pumpkin pie spice
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 vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.


4 thoughts on “Halloween: A trick and two treats

  1. I am going to defend the peanut butter eyeballs only because they photographed so well. The wax paper made for a great reflective surface for the bounce flash off the ceiling. Im sure we’ll try to make them again sometime in the future.

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