Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes w/Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream…The Pumpkin Addiction Continues

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In my last post I mentioned how I have been turned onto pumpkin.  Yes, I am on the “Pumpkin Everything” bandwagon.  I have been having pumpkin in all sorts of things: pancakes, waffles, chocolate chip cookies, bread, beer and of coarse coffee.  Pumpkin season should never end!  It goes well with my obsession with the fall season.  My family probably thinks I am a little crazy with it, but that’s ok.

IMG_20141011_234725The cake I decorated with Fall colors on a whim one day.

20141019_144133The Little Boy Scarecrow I made with one of my children at a local Fall Festival this weekend.

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A couple of treats I made recently for a brunch.

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My current favorite beverage.

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This weekend I opened a can of pumpkin to use a little of it in my waffle experimentation.  Since I opened the can I had to use the rest of it, right?  Of course.  So I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies as well as the item that is the topic of this post: Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream, garnished with chocolate shavings and  caramel bits.

Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream

These came  out really tasty!  The flavors mesh wonderfully!

Pumpkin Swirl Cupcake:

For this cupcake you can use any vanilla, white or yellow cake mix or recipe.  Before spooning batter into cupcake tins you will take a portion of the batter and had the pumpkin flavors.  Feel free to use your own recipe or box mix or give my recipe a try:

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ginger

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt. Whisk thoroughly.  In the bowl for your stand mixer cream the butter then add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy.  Add 1 egg at a time then add vanilla.  Add a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the milk.  Continue until all combined.  Once last amount of flour and milk are add only mix until just combined.  Try not to overmix or you run the risk of having a dry cake.

Next, scoop out about a cup or so of the batter into a separate bowl.  To this add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger stir to combine.

Now, fill your cupcake tins with cupcake liners and fill about 1/3 with the vanilla batter.  Next spoon a dollop of the pumpkin batter into each one.  With a toothpick or butter knife, swirl the pumpkin batter in to give the desired effect.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-18 minutes depending on your oven.  They are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp spoons of brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp  water
  • 5 Tbsp of softened butter, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ginger
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar) (more or less, depending on desired consistency)
  • course salt, chocolate shavings and caramel bits for garnish (optional)

Combine brown sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat.  While stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp of butter and 1/4 tsp of salt.  Set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer cream the remaining butter and the pumpkin.  Add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Add the cooled caramel.  Next, slowly add the powdered sugar.

Using a pastry bag or just a butter knife, frost the cupcakes and add desired garnish.

I hope you like them!!!Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream 20140927_103940-1

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream and Fondant Raspberry Toppers

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With a request for cupcakes I had the opportunity  try out my branding vision for my future business. Red is my absolute favorite color and I have always adored red and white polka dots.  I have red and white polka dot sandals that I can’t wait to wear again when the weather gets warm.  I even have red and white polka dot unmentionables….anyway, I digress.  Since I love this pattern I figured why not incorporate it into my vision.

I am also embracing my childhood nickname.  As a teenager I started to reject the name and tried to insist that everyone call me by my real name.  My family just laughed at me and continued to call me Punkin. I believe there are still some family members who don’t know my real name.   As an adult I actually embrace the nickname.  Family nicknames come from a place of love and it is an honor to be given one.  How can I reject that?  I am my mommy’s Punkin and will always be 🙂  So with the embrace of my nickname comes Punkin’s Pies, Cookies & Cakes!  Short and sweet 🙂

The cupcake request that gave me the opportunity to try out my label and packaging is for Chocolate Cupcakes.  I chose a Raspberry Buttercream and I made Fondant Raspberry toppers.  If you have been following my blog then you may remember a previous post I did that included a raspberry buttercream filling.  That particular buttercream did not come out as expected in texture, although it tasted very good.  Today’s buttercream (different recipe) is much better!  The only thing I will change next time will be to use less food coloring.  I often forget that when I use the gel food colorings the color tends to deepen as it sits.  The pink came out a bit to deep/bright for my liking.  (even more bright than the pictures in this post) It looked very artificial.  The raspberry in the buttercream only gave it a slight but dull pink hue.  With the intention of brightening it up I added pink food color.  Next time I will use less.

So let’s start with the Fondant Toppers!  This is when the kid in me comes out.  It is like playing with playdoh!

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You can create these, or other toppers with fondant, gum paste, or any other edible modeling dough.   If you make your own fondant or purchase white then you can use gel food colors to achieve different colors or you can take the easy route and use pre-colored products like I did this time.

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These are easy to make.  First, working in small batches, roll out your red dough.  Cut into strips and then cut each strip into small, uniform pieces. (I am not good and making them uniform lol).

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Take another piece a bit larger than the others and roll it into a ball.  Then take the smaller balls and start building your berry.  The first row of balls you attach will represent the top of the berry.  So you are building your berry upside down.  Depending on what kind of dough you are using you may want to have a little water handy.  The dough I used attached better if the pieces were slightly wet.

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After building the berry you can decide if you want to leave as is, or attach leaves.  I liked the added color of the leaves.  For this I rolled out the green dough and, using a small star-shaped cookie cutter I cut out stars.  (the star shape that came with my Linzer cookie cutter set was the perfect size).  After you cut the start shape next cut the star in half and separate each point of the star. ( I forgot to take a picture of this step and how I attached the leaves).

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Next, attach each star point to the top of the raspberry using a little water, if necessary.  Using fondant modeling tools or just a toothpick, press the leaf pieces in the middle of the top of the raspberry and , make imprint in it to make it look like a leaf.  Then bend them down a bit to make them look like they are simply laying on top.

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Chocolate Cupcake Recipe:

1 3/4 cup Flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

 1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of strong coffee

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a lager mixer bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Next add them to the flour mixture and beat for about 3 minutes.  Finally add the coffee and stir well.  This batter will be thin and liquidy compared to other cake batters, this normal!

Fill your cupcake liners with about 1/2 cup of batter and bake at 375 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Remove from cupcake pan and let cool on wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream:

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter (softened)

4 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)

3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons of raspberry jam (I used an all natural fruit spread with no corn syrup or unnecessary ingredients,  I used heaping spoonfuls :-))

1 tsp of vanilla ( probably used more, I tend to just liberally pour vanilla, I like it a lot)

1 tablespoon of milk

Pink food coloring if desired

Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Next add 1 cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of jam, the vanilla and also.  Blend well and add another cup of powdered sugar and another tablespoon of jam.  Repeat.  And voila! Raspberry Buttercream.  If you are not a fan of cream cheese then you can use 2 sticks of butter and eliminate the cream cheese.  Personally I like the cream cheese version better.  The tartness of the cream cheese lessens the intensity of the sweetness.

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Chocolate Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream OR Vanilla Orange Cupcake with Mandarin Orange Buttercream

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I dream in Buttercream 🙂

Seriously.  Many of my dreams have food of some sort and quite often it is buttercream and/or dessert related.  Since I had baked on my snow day (when I was supposed to be doing schoolwork.  This back to school thing is going to take some getting used to to.  The paper I wrote yesterday was the first since 1997!)  Sorry, got sidetracked.  Back to the topic.  So since I had baked on my snow day I had not planned on baking this weekend but I forgot that I had in-laws coming to town and they were going to stop by.  We went and chatted with them yesterday and my sister-in-law kept giving hints about the desserts she has seen me post.  I knew they were planning to stop by our place Sunday afternoon so I decided I would have time to whip something up but I was not quite sure what I wanted to make.  When I woke up this morning I was dreaming of mandarin oranges and buttercream.  I had never had that combination before but I was sure there were recipes out there incorporating oranges and buttercream.  I was correct, i found several so I had a starting point.

Whenever I bake I have this strange habit of needing to make multiple things.  This is something my husband and I have in common.  Whenever he grills he has to grill 3-4 different kinds of meat items.  It can never be just one thing.  I used to think that was strange until I realized I do the same thing with my baking.  I think it is because I am always afraid at least one item will be a flop so I want to have a backup.  Also, when I am baking for others I want to make sure I have something that will please everyone’s tastes.  So for today I decided on three things:

1.  Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream Filling and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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2. Vanilla Cupcakes with Apricot-Orange Filling and Mandarin Orange Buttercream Frosting

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3. Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Although none of the desserts came out perfectly, none were complete flops either.  My raspberry filling was originally intended to be a  fluffy swiss meringue buttercream that could be used for filling and decorating.  I don’t think I whipped the egg whites long enough and then did not incorporate the butter properly to make a smooth fluffy buttercream.   I probably added the raspberry puree too soon as well and so it came out as a thin-ish raspberry cream instead of a fluffy buttercream.  It tasted good so it I decided it could still be used for the filling but not for decorating.

The cupcakes came out good.  A basic vanilla cupcake.  For the filling I decided to just use Apricot Orange Preserves I found at the grocery store.  I originally was going to get an orange marmalade and cook it down a bit.  I decided not to cook it down and to use it as is.  It is not bad but I think I may change it next time I make these.  The orange buttercream is pretty good but I was just a little heavy handed with the Orange extract.  Next time I will either reduce the amount or eliminate it all together since I used juice from the mandarin orange cups.  Or I can just use orange juice.  We were out of orange juice so the juice from the fruit cups came in handy.

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My cookies are good.  The reason I feel these are not perfect is because of the substitution that used that I used quite often for the flavor but it makes the cookies look funny.  I prefer to use dark brown sugar in my cookie recipe but when I only have light brown sugar I will added a drizzle of molasses if I have that on hand.  It gives the cookie a more substantial flavor than just light brown sugar.  So today I needed to make that substitution.  The molasses causes the texture of the cookies to look funny and the edges spread out more than I would like.

With Molasses:

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Without Molasses:

Clasiic Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipes are posted below.  I would love to get your feedback.  Let me know what you think!!!

Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cup Flour** 2 cups sugar** 3/4 cup unsweetened coco powder** 2 teaspoons baking soda** 1 teaspoon baking powder** 1 teaspoon salt** 1 cup buttermilk** 1/2 cup oil** 2 eggs** 1 tsp vanilla** 1 cup of hot strong coffee

Combine dry ingredients,  then add liquids (except coffee).  mix until incorporated then add coffee.  Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (depending on the size pan(s) used).

Chocolate Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter(room temperature)** 3/4 cup unsweetened coco powder** 2 cups powdered sugar** pinch of salt** 2 tablespoons heavy cream(or more for a thinner consistency)

Cream butter. add coc, sugar and salt. whip until fluffy and then add heavy cream.  If you want the frosting thinner to spread more easily added more cream a little at a time.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

2 egg whites (or use Meringue powder using directions on canister to make egg whites)** 1/2 cup of sugar** 10 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)** 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract** pinch of salt** 1/4 cup of raspberry strained puree( I put 6 ounces of raspberries in my NutriBullet then strained them.

20140216_130828 Combine egg whites and sugar then simmer over a double boiler whisking unto sugar is dissolved and reaches 160 degrees.   Then in stand mixer with whisk attachment whisk to stiff peaks. Let cool about 10 minutes.  With paddle attachment add butter 2 tablespoons at a time incorprating after each addition.  then add salt and  raspberry puree.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups Flour** 1 teaspoon baking powder** 1/2 teaspoon salt** 1 stick of unsalted butter(melted)** 1 cup sugar** 3 eggs** vanilla extract**3/4 cup buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt.  In mixer bowl add butter sugar eggs butter milk vanilla and flour .  Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes

Orange Buttercream

2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)** 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar** 1 teaspoon salt** 2 tablespoons milk + 2 teaspoons** 3 teaspoons orange extract ( I recommend less)** 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon juice from oranges

Cream butter. add salt. add 1/2 of sugar, incorporate.  Add rest of sugar, extracts and juice.  mix several minutes until fluffy.