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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcoming Autumn: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream

It's been a bit gloomy outside, so it's perfect weather for staying inside and baking! So what to bake...? I decided to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season with my favorite flavor: PUMPKIN! I love love love fall, and I love the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin filling the air. I chose a recipe from Lauren Chattman's Cake Keeper Cakes: Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Pound Cake. Instead of putting the batter into a loaf pan, I put it into two standard cupcake pans. The recipe is as follows...

1 3/4 c unbleached flour (I used bleached but Chattman stated there would be a cleaner flavor with unbleached)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch nutmeg
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
3 large eggs
1 c canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 c milk
1 c mini semisweet chocolate chips ( I just used normal sized chips)
1 c chopped walnuts (can easily be omitted... or replaced with pecans yum!)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place cupcake papers in pans.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl

3. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, and mix for about 3 minutes. remember to scrape down the sides!
4. With mixer on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin puree, vanilla, and milk.

5. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. I waited until there was about a half cup of dry ingredients left, then I added my chocolate chips and walnuts to that. Then I slowly added it into the batter. It's a good way for the chips and nuts to stay suspended in the cake batter while baking and not sink to the bottom!

6. Portion out the batter into 24 cupcakes and place in oven for 20 minutes. Insert a butter knife (not toothpick!) into a couple of different cupcakes to determine if the knife comes out clean (well, clear of batter, but melted chocolate is OK!).

The cupcakes can be stored in a cake keeper for up to 3 days, or wrapped up in the fridge for up to one week.

I figured a pretty delicious flavor combination would be cream cheese. So I found a cream cheese buttercream recipe from Martha Stewart.

1 8-oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb (about 4-ish cups) of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a mixer for 30 seconds. It calls for the paddle attachment, but I like the whisk. It makes for a much fluffier buttercream.

2. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the confectioner's sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Add vanilla, then increase the mixer to medium. Blend until fluffy (about a minute).

There's enough frosting here to cover the 24 cupcakes the way I did with about a cup or so left over.

If you wanted to do a huge swirl on each, you can. I garnished with a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice, but I think a cool idea could also be toasted walnut pieces. These were super delish, and I'm so proud of meself! *grin!*

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