Fall Cupcakes!


Yes, fall is here.  Some of you are groaning because this means that summer is over, but remember this also means that, well….autumn is here!  Time for brisk mornings and hot drinks, good books and cozy fires, nature giving its grand finale in firey red leaves and big crysanthemums, and of course, baking!  This year for my father-in-law’s birthday I added to his gifts by whipping up some cupcakes. 

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I‘ve never made cupcakes before, believe it or not, and I’ve never made frosting.  We didn’t get home until almost 9pm last night and I thought I’d be too tired to get these done, but they went very quickly and easily.  I actually ended up with a little leftover, which I poured into a heart-shaped ramekin for Chris and I to share. 


The long part was the decorating, because it was of course the fun part.  I LOVE baking with pumpkin.  If you do too, you’ll love these.  It’s based off a recipe from Martha Stewart, which I modified to fit my liking.  Hope you enjoy!


Mike’s Birthday Cupcakes (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting)

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Food coloring or paste, in reds, oranges, browns, yellows
  • Candies for decorating, such as chocolate sprinkles, orange sugar crystals, various candy corns, black licorice strings, candy pumpkins, etc.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners (this recipe makes about 24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill yours); set aside. Measure flour by lightly spooning it into measuring cups and leveling with a knife.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree, chocolate chips, 24 drops yellow food coloring, and 16 drops red food coloring.

3.  Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack, let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan onto wire rack; let cool completely.

4.  Meanwhile, make the frosting:  Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add butter, and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and mix to combine.

Now comes the fun part – decorating!  Spoon a little bit of frosting into small bowls and experiement with adding color.  Red and yellow make orange, add a tiny speck of green to red to make an autumny brick red, etc.  Sprinkle orange sugar crystals over white frosting, wind a rope of black licorice in a spiral on orange icing, nestle a candy corn on red icing.

By the way, a note on herbs and spices – this recipe calls for ground allspice, which I did not have on hand.  When I got to the store to pick some up and saw the $9+ price tag, I just about gave up.  I only needed 1/4 tsp!!  Turns out they had a bulk herbs and spices section along with their bulk foods.  I’ve noticed more and more grocery stores doing this – our QFC when we lived in Northgate had one, and this was the Top Foods in Snohomish.  I bought about a tablespoon of ground allspice and it cost me exactly $0.01.  Needless to say, I may never buy bottled herbs and spices again!


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