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

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Salted Caramel Red Velvet Love Brownies

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Today was a snow day and my plans were to spend the day in my PJs enjoying time with my boys and getting  my paper done that is due for class on Sunday so I don’t have to spend my Saturday at the library.  I purposely did not buy specific baking ingredients while at the store for my pre-snow storm shopping because I wanted to concentrate on my paper and spend time with the family. (Pre-Storm shopping:  I expected the shelves to be empty of a lot of things but I did not anticipate not being able to find hot dog buns! Go figure.  But I digress).   I try to save the baking for the weekend.  And honestly I knew I already had a cake and some cupcakes that we had not finished yet so there really was no need in me baking anything. Well…mission only partially accomplished.  I did stay in my PJs the entire day and it was great.  My boys talked with me a little(too busy talking to their firends on the phone instead) but I actually got some rare quality time with the hubster and that was good.  My paper, on the other hand is still incomplete.  I did get more reading done and I have a mental draft ready to be put down on paper but it looks like I will be spending some time at the library on Saturday morning.

What I did not accomplish was not baking anything.  I couldn’t resist.  Believe it or not, I actually dream of dessert on a regular basis.  Dessert is my motivation to run.  (Speaking of which, I do not like cold weather and I have not run in a long time,  I really need Spring.  But I digress, again.  Bad habit).  So my dream last night was a Valentine’s Day related desert.  Over the last  weekend I baked a Red Velvet Pound Cake but never frosted.  So it came to me in a dream to cut out heart shapes from the red velvet cake and use in conjunction with some ooey gooey brownies.  Red velvet cake + ooey gooey chocolateness= perfect for V day.  But I decided to take it  a bit further and make Salted Caramel Brownies because I just love Salted Caramel anything. Luckily I had enough ingredients on hand to pull this off.  It is a snow day after all.  I had no plans of leaving my PJs or my house.

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Since the red velvet cake was already baked I added frozen pieces of the cake to the brownie mix.  I sliced the red velvet then used a  heart shaped cookie cutter to make the hearts.  I placed each one on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and placed it in the freezer while I prepared the brownie batter and salted caramel sauce.

I like to make sure I give credit to whomever I get my recipes from but I am not quite sure of the origins of each of these  recipes .  They were recipes I had written down some time ago and have probably tweeked from the originals.  I will include my recipes at the end of the post.

These came out just as ooey, gooey and good as I anticipated.  Visually I wish I would not have drizzled caramel on top of the hearts before baking.  Then the hearts would have popped more. My husband and oldest son have a tradition when we go out to eat to order some kind of brownie and ice cream dessert and share it.  They have been doing this ever since my son was about 1 year old.  It’s a Kevins tradition.  So to keep up with that tradition we made a home version (pictured at the top) with scoops of vanilla ice cream, whip cream, chocolate sauce and more caramel sauce.  They devoured it in record time!

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To make these I first made the caramel sauce so it could cool while I prepared the brownies.  I set it a side then melted the chocolate for the brownie batter.  The recipe called for 5 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate.  I had 4.  So I used about 1 ounce of white chocolate chips as well.  After mixing the brownie batter I poured 1/2 into my prepared pan.   Next I spooned about 6-9 dollops of caramel sauce onto the brownies then spread the rest of the brownie batter on top. I then placed my frozen cake hearts on top pushing them down into the batter but not enough to be covered.  This is when I drizzled caramel sauce on top.  Next time I will skip this part. (I lined the 8×8 pan with overlapping foil to make it easy to remove the brownies.  You could use parchment or waxed paper as well).

My youngest doesn’t do brownies so I had to find something for him with items I had on hand.  It wasn’t from scratch but I was able to make him one of his favorites: a vanilla pudding pie.  I all it takes is a box of pudding mix, milk, a graham cracker crust and whipped cream.  I have actually never made this from scratch before.  I will have to try it soon.

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After I list the recipes below I am going to go start on the draft for my paper.  I am feeling a bit guilty putting time in to do this blog post knowing I have a paper to write on a very different subject: Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum and miseducation in early childhood.  Tata for now 🙂

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup of sugar**6 tablespoons of unsalted butter**1 teaspoon of salt** 2/3 cup of heavy cream (room temp)

Heat sugar over med-high heat, whisking as it starts to melt. Whisk until it starts to turn the color of dark amber.  Add butter and whisk until incorporated.  Remove from and pour in cream, whisking until smooth.

Brownies

2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate**5 ounces of semisweet chocolate**1 stick of unsalted butter**3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder**3 eggs**1& 1/4 cup of sugar**2 teaspoons of vanilla extract**1/2 teaspoon of salt**1 cup of flour

350 degree oven, 8×8 pan

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until smooth, stirring in between each round).  Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs and sugar.  Whisk in melted chocolate.  (just a little at first to temper.  you don’t want to scramble the eggs).  Then stir in flour until just combined. Pour into pan and spread to edges.( for the above dessert I poured 1/2 into the pan, added caramel sauce the poured in the rest.)

Bake about 35 mins, cool for about 2 hours.

Red Velvet Pound Cake

3 cups of sugar**2 sticks of unsalted butter** 6 eggs**1 teaspoon of vanilla extract**3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder**1 teaspoon of baking powder** 1 cup of buttermilk ( i never have buttermilk on hand so i always just put a bit of vinegar or lemon juice in some milk and let it sit a bit and then voila! Buttermilk)**1 ounce bottle of red food coloring

Bundt pan at 300 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 mins.