Pumpkin Cupcakes — 3 Stars

It was once again my turn to make dessert for the weekly Christian Business Students meeting. I had planned to take a chocolate loaf cake, split into three layers, and frosted with a fudgy chocolate frosting, but in a conversation with a friend the day prior to the meeting, I was convinced to take something "seasonal"; that is, to take something with a pumpkin flavor. I settled on these pumpkin cupcakes.

The batter mixed up very easily. I decided to mix everything in one bowl, and I used my handheld mixer (I think that’s the first time since moving I’ve used the handheld mixer). I increased some of the spices just slightly, by using heaping teaspoons instead of just a regular teaspoon.

The cupcakes do not form a peak when they bake, so you have a nice, flat surface for frosting. I also baked the cupcakes at a little lower than the recommended temperature, so this might have explained the flat cupcakes as well. Let’s see…These cakes were light, airy, and moist. Yummy. These cakes did not have the heavy pumpkin taste I was seeking; to me, it had just a faint pumpkin taste. I used an entire can of pumpkin puree, though, so I’m not sure how to get more of a pumpkin flavor. To be honest, I didn’t like these cupcakes that much alone, but when I frosted with my Orange Cream Cheese frosting — Wow, those were delicious. (The pumpkin cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting would get at least 4 stars.) That said, everyone else seemed to find the flavor just fine, and could tell they were pumpkin cupcakes.

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you! I used my large cookie scoop to fill the pans. I realize this "trick" has been around for a while (although most people use an ice cream scoop, which I do not own), but it was my first time trying this. It’s great. You must do this the next time you make cupcakes. Not only do you get uniformly sized cupcakes, but there’s less mess and greater ease in filling the tins.

Cake Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature,

1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 cups, less 2 Tbsp, flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

a pinch of ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk mixed (I used 2 Tbsp powdered buttermilk and 1/2 cup water)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can pumpkin puree

Cake Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 315° F (340°F if using light-colored muffin tins). Line a cupcake pans with 20 liners.
2. Using a hand held mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
4.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper, and powdered buttermilk.  (Add a cup of flour, mix, add the other ingredients, mix, then and the 2nd cup of flour and mix again.) 
5.  Add the water, then beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.

Frosting Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8oz block cream cheese, room temperature
1, 1-lb bag of powdered sugar (2 cups, I think?)
1/2 medium-sized orange
1 1/2 Tbsp milk (optional)

Frosting Directions
1.  On low speed, beat the butter and cream cheese together in a bowl.
2.  Add in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, combining the sugar before adding more.
3.  Squeeze in the juice of the orange.  If frosting is too stiff, add in milk, 1/2 Tbsp at a time.

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