Chocolate pumpkin cupcakes
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcake
Okay, now I’m imploring you to keep a couple things in mind when you’re looking at my October entry for Cupcake Hero. First, let me tell you that October’s ingredient is pumpkin, but we were also asked to decorate our entry for Halloween. Now. The day I made these cupcakes, I had a lot of help in the kitchen. It’s impossible to say, “I’m making Halloween cupcakes.” without your kids getting wide-eyed and excited to help. And around here, it’s not usually just my two sous chefs, but our neighbor (Sam’s best friend) too. So on this day, I had three rugrats crowded around me putting their creative touches on a batch of chocolate pumpkin cupcakes. There was quite a bit of jostling and bumping, and my hand isn’t all that steady to begin with, but geesh. I have to chuckle (okay, cringe) when I look at this photo, because I think it kind of looks like the kids did the decorating. But, no, it was all me. Please be kind.
I found the recipe for these cupcakes at Country Living, and I was really happy with the flavor. You could definitely tell there was pumpkin in there amidst all that chocolate, and the cupcakes were really moist and delicious. We actually loved them unfrosted. However, that being said, let me also say that I found my new favorite, go-to vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe over at one of my favorite blogs, Lick the Bowl Good. (Thanks to Monica for sharing this perfect frosting and to Ingrid for leading me to it!) It. Is. Amazing. Enough said.
So I made up a batch of chocolate pumpkin cupcakes and decided to turn them into bats. First, I cut out a bat wing shape and traced it onto the back of some waxed paper several times. I filled in the wing shapes by using melted Wilton candy melts that I’d put into a plastic ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. When I’d done a bunch of wings, I also did some straight lines (mouths) and some triangles (eyebrows), and added a black dot to the center of some m&m candies (eyes). All of that went into the fridge for a short time to set. After they had all hardened nicely, I turned the wings upside down and outlined them. Back into the fridge they went.
Next, I frosted one cupcake at a time, then sprinkled each with colored sugar. Using a little extra icing as glue, I attached the eyes to the top. The triangles were pushed in above the eyes to make eyebrows, and the chocolate line was added to become a mouth. For the fangs, I carefully cut a white chocolate candy bar apart and used a little icing to help them stay in place. Then, I carefully pushed in one end of each bat wing. There you have it. One cute, colorful little bat.
I will give you a bit of advice. Don’t make your bat wings too big. Mine were a little on the large side, and after a little time, they weighed down the sides of the cupcake liners and a couple of them collapsed a bit. It would have been very disappointing if I’d been making them for a party and all their wings had fallen off! Err on the side of caution with this part, and make small wings.
Before I share the delicious recipes, I want to share a couple pics of the kids’ cupcakes too. They asked me if I’d put them on the blog, so here they are. Enjoy!
Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
(from Country Living – also makes a 3 layer 8″ cake)
2 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I just used what I had in the spice jar and it was fine.)
3/4 c. buttermilk
1- 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin puree (or 1 1/2 c.)
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
5 large eggs
Cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Set aside. (If baking the triple layer cake, set oven at 350 degrees and grease three 8″ cake pans with parchment paper lining the bottoms).
Sift or whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set this aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of your mixer, on medium speed, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture, blending well after each addition.
Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 22 minutes. (If baking the cakes, divide batter between three pans and bake about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely before frosting.) Remove cupcakes to wire rack and cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate frosted cupcakes until ready to serve.
Recipe: Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
(from Monica at Lick the Bowl Good, who found it at Cupcake Bakeshop)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (No vanilla bean to be found, so I upped the pure vanilla extract and used a total of 4 tsp. of extract in all.)
4-5 c. powdered sugar (I used 4 cups.)
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Then add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar. Beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.