Based on my experience thus far in life, I can firmly say that you can never go wrong with pumpkin flavored anything and cream cheese frosting. I made a different version of these cupcakes last year, and there are a few things I liked about each recipe. Last year’s recipe was ridiculously moist, but almost to the point where the cupcakes stuck to the wrapper and couldn’t support the weight of the frosting when you went to take a bite. I liked this new recipe because the cupcakes are a little bit sturdier, and you don’t have to use part of a box of cake mix (what does one do with a left over 2/3 cup of cake mix? ). Plus, when I’m going to the trouble of making cupcakes from scratch I really prefer ones made with unique ingredients that wouldn’t be part of a box mix – like butter instead of oil and buttermilk for some extra moisture. I used to think that recipes that called for buttermilk were a bit annoying because you generally have to buy a whole quart, but I’ve found it lasts a lot longer than milk (like over a month) and I’ve found several other things to do with it in that time – like John’s birthday cake, ranch dressing, and then these cupcakes. But as I said before, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin and cream cheese so if your so inclined, try both recipes!
I actually made these for the children’s Halloween party that our medical school hosts every year. Now technically this party if for children with diabetes, and while you might think cupcakes wouldn’t be the best idea, the point of the party was to help the children learn how to balance their carbohydrates with their insulin. (And it is really hard to find low carbohydrate halloween desserts). So I made a double batch of these cupcakes, and calculated that each cupcake with frosting has 35 grams of carbohydrate. I got about 40 cupcakes from the double batch, and saved a few to take with us to Cincinnati for my now living in Ohio brother and sister -in-law. These went so fast that I’m pretty sure my father-in-law thought he wasn’t going to get one. Apparently they were also a big hit at the halloween party – but really what kid can resist sprinkles?
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 20-24 cupcakes with piped frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 c brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the Icing:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 stick butter (softened)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 10 oz powdered sugar (about 3 cups), sifted
To Make the Cupcakes:
Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla until fully incorporated.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another small mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin and buttermilk until smooth.
Turn the stand mixer on to the lowest setting and alternately add the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixtures to the creamed butter. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the pans, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool enough to handle and then move to a cooling rack. Store in airtight containers until frosted. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator.
To Make the Icing:
Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together on high speed. Add the powdered sugar, a small amount at a time and blend until smooth and creamy. To ice the cupcakes using a pastry bag, chill icing in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes in order to harden the icing enough to frost. Alternatively, frosting can be added immediately to cooled cupcakes using an offset spatula.
Icing inspired Ina Garten
For as long as I can remember, I have loved making from scratch birthday cakes. One of the first ones that comes to mind is a chocolate hazelnut birthday cake for my brother’s (and my) birthday. Unfortunately, I somehow measured the wrong amount of hazelnuts in that cake, and it pretty much ruined Nutella for me for at least 5 years (don’t worry, I’ve now come to my senses). There were other times in college, where cooking in a small dorm kitchen that literally had no cooking utensils seemed like a great idea. There was freshman year, where I figured I had nothing better to do than to make a 3 layer meringue cake with whipped cream and fruit. There were several $50 german chocolate cakes, since they required buying not only the ingredients, but also pans, bowls and something to stir with. There were multiple coffee cheesecakes that served as birthday cakes, pies that served as birthday cakes and then of course the most recent Malted Chocolate and Marshmallow Six Layer Cake.
So last year, when John’s only wish for his birthday cake was boxed chocolate cake mix with simple whipped cream as the frosting, I was slightly appalled. I made the cake, I even ate a piece, and I was glad he liked it, but seriously – how boring! As his birthday approached this year, I was almost afraid to ask what kind of cake he might like, because I knew that no matter what I suggested, he would come back with the same chocolate cake with whipped cream. Then this cake popped into my mind, or rather popped up on my google reader. I had seen it earlier on Annie’s blog, but it was way back in January when I wasn’t thinking about October birthdays. I immediately knew that this would be the perfect birthday cake for John because it’s basically a dressed up of version of his favorite. The flavors are still simple, but the ganache adds just that oomph it needed to make it not only more delicious but also quite stunning. The strawberries are obviously optional, but they certainly add to the presentation. I sized down the original recipe because everyone mentioned how it was such a tall cake, and I felt a little guilty putting 4 cups of sugar in a cake (but of course, in my head, 3 was fine). I thought it came out perfectly with a slightly downsized recipe, and so that is the version I have included below. This cake is definitely a keeper and I’m really glad I was able to find something that both I enjoyed making and John enjoyed eating. Happy Birthday baby! I still love you no matter what kind of birthday cake you want :-)!
Yield: 3- 9 inch layers
For the cake:
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup canola oil
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the chocolate topping:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan, shaking out the excess flour.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water and canola oil; heat until the butter is melted. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and flour; whisk to blend. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the baking soda, salt and vanilla to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer and invert onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.
To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat!
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake platter and spread a layer of the whipped cream frosting over the top. Top with a second cake layer, more frosting (and the third cake layer, if using). Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.
To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake.) Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides.
Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.
I promised you that there would be more raspberry recipes to come, and I don’t lie. I made this as part of the dinner part I had with my family over labor day weekend, but the truth is we ate so much of it for dinner that I felt the need to make another pie the next day :-). I’m planning on making a 3rd one, likely today, that’s how much I love this pie.
Now to give you an idea of why this must be the best ever raspberry pie, you should know that I am not much of a fruit pie fan. I’m not one to turn down any dessert, but fruit pie would never be my first choice. This pie is an exception. I really think it is the best recipe ever created for raspberry pie. I have never met a person who didn’t love it, and my mom has been making it every year since I can remember. Now there are a few keys to this pie that make it so delicious. First of all it really does help if you use good quality raspberries. I’ve bought a few of the store bought variety this year and have been sorely disappointed. This could be because I bought them before they were truly in season, but still I think raspberries are best either hand-picked or bought from a farmers market. Second, it uses crème de cassis or blackberry liqueur. I know that it’s a pain to buy one bottle of liqueur that you only use for one recipe, but that bottle will last you through several years of raspberry pie making – so it’s totally worth the investment. And third, there is butter and lemon slices in the pie filling itself – how can you go wrong.
For a while I have tried to avoid the realization that homemade pie crust is about 7864 times better than store-bought, mostly because I have been trying to avoid the extra work that comes with making homemade pie crust. However, I have (somewhat remorsefully) come to my senses. Homemade pie crust is just so much better. Its flakier, it melts in your mouth and it doesn’t have artificial taste that hints through in store bought crust. Since I learned the trick about rolling the pie crust out between 2 pieces of parchment paper, it has become infinitely easier to make. I think it is totally worth the extra 10 minutes, but I won’t tell if you still want to use store-bought :-). I haven’t included a recipe for pie crust here because it seems that everyone has there own favorite. I used a recipe from the pioneer woman, but I can’t say I’ve tried enough to really say it is the best ever. And really, if you are trying to save time my mom has made this countless times with store bought pie crust and I have still loved it. I also would guess that you could easily make this into a blackberry pie but I have never tried this since I love raspberries. If you do, let me know how it turns out!
Best Ever Raspberry Pie
– Makes 1 standard 9 inch pie
- 5 cups raspberries (2 1/2 pints)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup Crème de Cassis or blackberry liqueur
- 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter sliced paper thin
- 3 paper thin slices of lemon (a mandoline would be best for this)
- Top and bottom layer of pie crust
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Toss raspberries and sugar gently together in mixing bowl.
- In a measuring cup, whisk liqueur and cornstarch together until smooth.
- Stir Cassis mixture, lemon juice and salt gently into berries.
- Line a standard 9 inch pie pan with crust. (Do not use a deep dish pie unless you significantly increase the number of berries) Spoon in the berries, and arrange lemon slices and butter over the berries.
- With the top pie crust layer, cut it into about ½ inch strips, preferably using a pastry cutter like this. Arrange over berries in a lattice pattern, alternating under-over. Crimp the edges of the pastry together. (This was the first pie we made)
- Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 425F for 15 minutes. *Then lower heat to 350F and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
Slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook