Woooooooo! Happy Halloween. We don’t really celebrated Halloween here, not like they do in America, but after reading about all the Halloween themed treats that have been popping up on many blogs over the past week I was determined to join the party. Some ookey-spooky cupcakes seemed the way to go.
I am so happy about a recent discovery I made on Thursday…Waitrose stock canned pumpkin puree! YIPPEE! I have been hankering after this for years, having spent many months feeling envious of many delicious pumpkin inspired goodies baked by fellow bloggers from other countries. I have never found in sold here in the UK until now. Finally I can start making some pumpkin treats myself! I have tried making my own pumpkin puree and although successful enough, when you open that first can of pumpkin puree you can see it’s not in the same league. Just look how vibrantly orange it is – and it had such a lovely flavour too.
After finding a tasty sounding pumpkin cake recipe, I whipped up a batch of pumpkin cupcakes with much enjoyment. I baked them in Halloween themed cupcake cases I brought back from my recent trip to Chicago (I must have known they’d be needed). The batter was a lovely orangey brown colour and speckled with spices. They smelt absolutely amazing while they baked, a cross between carrot cake and Christmas cake, like hot caramel and spicy. Once baked, they were puffy with slightly domed tops and I had to resist the urge to eat one straight away but I knew they would be even tastier once frosted.
To give them a Halloween theme I cut some spooky faces out of some rounds of orange fondant which I lightly scored to make them look like pumpkins. It was rather fun. I found depending on how you cut out the eyes they could either end up looking cute, spooky or downright evil!
I let the fondant dry a bit before propping them up on top of the frosting before turning the lights out and shining a torch behind them. Ooooo spooky. On a recent outing I also found a small shop in Milton Keynes that sold American foods, including some candy corns – another thing I have been longing to try, so of course they had to make an appearance too.
The cupcakes were divine! They didn’t taste of pumpkin, but they were incredibly light, moist and airy and I’m sure that it’s thanks to the pumpkin. They had a wonderful spiciness and the sweet, creamy cream cheese frosting was the perfect accompaniment. In fact I would go as far as to say they were spook-tacular!
Spook-tacular Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe adapted from Furey and The Feast blog)
270g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
250g light brown sugar
225ml vegetable oil
425g pumpkin puree (1 standard can)
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ lemon, zest only
Cream Cheese Frosting
200g cream cheese
150g unsalted butter
15g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
Method – Cream Cheese Frosting
Start by making the frosting. Make sure you butter is soft. Beat the together with the cream cheese, vanilla and brown sugar until well combined.
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl to ensure it is lump free. Then add it gradually into the cream cheese mixture, about 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Mix with a spatula, as electric mixers will make the icing fly everywhere. Once all the icing sugar has been incorporated, beat with an electric mixer to ensure its smooth.
Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge until required.
For the Pumpkin Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two 12 holed muffin tins (24 total) with cupcake cases.Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves into a bowl and set aside.In another bowl, beat together the brown sugar and eggs. Add the vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, yoghurt, vanilla and the lemon zest. Whisk together until well combined.
Scatter half the spiced flour mixture over the top of the batter and fold in until combined. Fold in the remaining flour and whisk briefly to ensure everything is evenly mixed.
Divide the batter between the 24 muffin cases. I find using an old fashioned ice cream scoop works perfectly, but a large tablespoon would work just as well. Fill until three-quarters full.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. They should be puffy, slightly domed on top and springy to the touch when ready.
Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.
Knead the fondant lightly to soften it up. Add small amounts of red and yellow food dye and work into the fondant until you have an orange colour you are happy with.
Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar and roll out the fondant until 2mm thick.
Stamp out rounds of fondant and then cut out small slits for eyes. Cut a small zig-zag line for the mouth and gently pull the bottom on the fondant to enlarge it into a mouth.
Place the spooky pumpkins on a rack and leave to air dry.
Remove the cream cheese frosting from the fridge and beat lightly to soften. Pipe or spread the frosting onto the top of the cooled cupcakes.
Decorate the tops of the cupcakes with the fondant pumpkins or other sweets. (I used a candy corn sweet to prop the fondant pumpkins up).
Eat and enjoy!
Makes 24 cupcakes