Monday, October 31, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

As the days have (finally!) taken on a distinctly Autumn chill, I've found myself craving spicy pumpkin goodness.  I found a recipe for pumpkin layer-cake a few days ago, and with a few tweaks, I was eating some rather delicious pumpkin cupcakes a few hours later.

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese vanilla bean frosting

And to make myself feel better about the indulgence, I made them with half whole wheat flour.  I'm sure you could take it further by substituting half (or more) of the oil for applesauce, and since it's a moist spice cake batter, you could probably play around with substitutions of agave nectar or honey to replace some of the sugar, but...well, I didn't want to go TOO crazy.  These ARE cupcakes after all (although I will not reveal whether or not I counted them as breakfast for one morning.  Or two mornings.)  I also switched out the ground ginger for fresh grated ginger for a little more punch.  (Also, I happened to be out of dry ground ginger, but had a fresh root on hand.  Perfect!)

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese vanilla bean frosting

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
Modified from this recipe on Epicurious

To make these you will need: a KitchenAid stand mixer or strong hand-held beater or strong biceps, 2-12 cup cupcake pans, cupcake papers (optional), and a frosting/decorating bag with large star-tip (optional)

1-1/2 cups All purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I like to use "White Whole Wheat" King Arthur brand for it's milder taste)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup full-flavor molasses
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1-15oz can pure pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (I used my microplane)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1-1/2 sticks butter/12 tablespoons (room temperature)
1 cup confectioner sugar (or to taste -- I don't like it very sweet)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon dark rum (I didn't use this because I didn't think my children would like it, and one of my best friends has an aversion to rum -- but it would be SUPER DELICIOUS if you like that sort of thing!)

To make cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350(F).  Position rack in the middle of the oven and grease 2 dozen cupcake cups, or use paper cupcake liners.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl bowl and whisk together (or just put it all in a sifter and sift it together).

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar, molasses and oil (the mixture will look weird and grainy -- don't worry!).  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add pumpkin, vanilla and grated fresh ginger.  Beat until well blended.

Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.  If using, add walnuts or pecans.

Spoon mixture into muffin cups and bake for 18-22 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make frosting:
Beat together all of the ingredients for at least 5 minutes, until well combined, airy and light.

Spoon mixture into a decorating bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe swirls of frosting on the tops of the cupcakes.

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese vanilla bean frosting

Well, what are you waiting for?  Go make some pumpkin cupcakes!!

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