It is the beginning of the false holiday cheer imposed upon coffee drinkers by the folks at Starbucks. They have rolled out their annual Pumpkin Spice Latte season, and this year they have added actual pumpkin to the lattes! In addition to the corn syrup and cinnamon and nutmeg and milk, now you can have actual pumpkin imbued in your over-priced, warmish morning beverage.
It is also National Dessert Month! Yesterday, at the grocery store I saw Pumpkin Spice Crème Oreos! Is nothing sacred, or holy?
Heavens to Betsy!
However shall we deal with two such odd food products? We can retaliate on a small scale, and retreat to our own kitchens and bake. The Great British Baking Show on PBS has been so delightful, even though they haven’t dealt with pumpkins, as far as I have seen. So you can wander away from the bake your own creation burgeoning with Cream Pat and short crust. I am going celebrate the season with some pumpkin cupcakes.
The folks at the Slate Culture Gabfest had Dan Pashman on their podcast this week. He has a very amusing food and eating podcast called The Sporkful. He says there is no shame in buying cans of pumpkin purée. It is easier than homemade, and just as tasty. Though he is no pumpkin pie purist. He prefers to stir his mashed up pie bits into a bowl of partially melted vanilla ice cream, with an extra dusting of cinnamon. So decide to which school you belong – the hard-working and industrious, with a soupçon of dreamy traditionalist, or just a lazy damn git like the rest of us who wants a nice, warm spicy cupcake sooner rather than later?
The pure of heart read on, the rest of us can skip down.
3 pounds sliced pumpkin
½ cup water
Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the pumpkin chunks on a cookie sheet with sides or a big sheet cake pan – skin-side down or up – it doesn’t matter.
Pour the water in the pan. Roast for 45 minutes until fork tender.
Remove the pumpkin from skin when it is still warm. Purée in a food processor or blender until it is smooth. Store it in a container in the fridge for about a week or freeze some of it for a later use.
I am a big fan of cupcakes. They are small, sweet and finite. We don’t live in a big hipster city, so I haven’t experienced many artisanal bakeries that specialize solely in cupcakes. Cupcakes are a temptation you don’t have to resist; they are a perfect form of portion control. Plus you can enjoy delicately peeling away the fluted paper cup, and remember that it is a lifelong skill you mastered in first grade, perhaps.
Here is a family-sized recipe for pumpkin cupcakes.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt (we like crunchy Maldon salt)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée (but you have yours safely tucked up in the fridge!)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice together and set aside.
In a big bowl, whisk the sugars, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin purée.
Divide batter evenly among liners, I use a plastic measuring cup, either the quarter cup or the third of a cup, depending on the size of the cupcake. (Too much math for me to figure out mini cupcake measurements, though. You will need to eyeball those.) Fill them each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, or if the toothpick comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack.
It is the taste of pumpkin pie without the holiday trappings or in-law trauma!
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick, 4 ounces), room temperature
8 ounces of Philadelphia cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2 to 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla – pure extract – no imitation!
Use an electric mixer and beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Then use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to be sure that the mixture is evenly mixed.
Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer running, slowly add in the powdered sugar. Confectioners’ sugar has cornstarch that will help thicken the frosting, as well as making it sweet. Keeping adding confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is thick enough to schmear in a satisfyingly artistic fashion across the tops of the cupcakes.
Decorate with abandon. Candy corn or sprinkles are encouraged, or the edible dragées, the silver ball bearings that Doctor Who so adores. http://www.fiction-food.com/2013/08/rose-cupcakes-w-edible-ball-bearings.html
“We fancy men are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history”
Ralph Waldo Emerson