Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow) to all my American friends and family!

In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October.  I had always thought that we celebrated first because we were further north and the harvest came sooner.  From what I've read on the old reliable interwebs, that might be the case but it took us a long time to finally settle on the second Monday in October, something I had never heard of.  In England, we celebrate the Harvest but it seems more of a religious celebration within the Church of England than the big family gathering that has developed in Canada (and there's no day off work!)  My extensive research (this kids website) explains how Thanksgiving first derived from the Europeans.  So concludes the thorough investigation into why Americans and Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on different days.  I'm just glad I have an excuse to share these amazing pumpkin spice cupcakes that I made from the little pumpkin I bought for Halloween (it's the ONLY time I can find pumpkin in England).

Smaller pumpkins are sweeter for baking and have more flesh to work with whereas the larger pumpkins are perfect for jack-o-lanterns and have more seeds for roasting.  I started by cutting into the pumpkin and going into autopilot began to carve it - I'm surprised I stopped before giving it two triangle eyes and a one tooth grin.

I scooped out the seeds this way but it would have been easier sliced in half, which I did part way through.  Then I laid the two halves and the top on a baking sheet but not before drizzling them in olive oil.  I placed the pumpkin in a preheated oven (200°C) for about an hour.  Then I got to work on the seeds.  There were only a few but I thought they might make a nice garnish for the cupcakes.  I did come home from Canada a few weeks ago with a giant bag of candy corn and mini candy pumpkins which would have looked nice but they were devoured in the first week of being back in England.

For the seeds I simply rinsed them in a colander, dried them with paper towel, laid them on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I placed them in the oven with the pumpkin and set 10 minutes on the timer.  They needed a further 10 minutes after that but just keep an eye on yours - I like mine quite crispy but the edges were starting to burn at 20 minutes. 

When the pumpkin was ready (a knife should go into it easily) I scooped out the flesh into a bowl and blended with my hand mixer until very smooth to make a puree.  The puree will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or you can freeze it if you want to use it at a later date.  It's great for so many things (check out this blogger's post) and I just may use some of these ideas for my leftover puree.  I definitely don't want to waste any!

Now for the best part - the cupcakes!!  These were one of the best cupcakes I've tried (and I've tried a lot!)

 I struggled with the frosting though.  It was my first attempt at a cream cheese frosting and after 2 failed batches I gave up.  Otherwise my recent gym visits (0) would need to increase to an amount that is just completely unrealistic.  Because when I say "failed" I mean that the consistency wasn't right for piping onto the cupcakes; it just sort of slid down the sides, but the consistency was, however, perfectly fine for eating with a spoon!  Oh dear!  I'm not sure what went wrong.  I went with a recipe I found on All Recipes that had great reviews but mine turned out very liquid-y.  The first batch went wrong because when my hand mixer ceased to work I thought the food processor would blend everything and it pretty much liquefied it all.  I should really know my kitchen tools better.  I added more icing sugar but you can see in the photo above, the icing is still sliding down the sides.  For the second batch I bought this:

I'd really like to hold out for something better that will last for years because this is the 3rd hand mixer I've had.  I'm going to do a little research and add it to my wish list.  Somehow with this new mixer I still managed to ruin the second batch.  It was much better than the first but I think I gave the maple syrup a whizz with the butter and cream cheese without adding any icing sugar and in doing so, liquefied it.  I think if I made this again I would skip the syrup altogether (you could hardly taste it) and use maple flavouring instead (like so many reviewers suggested).  Try this one or another recipe you know of and I will share my version when I get it right!  If anyone knows how to keep the icing sugar in the bowl when mixing please let me know.  It looked like CSI had been dusting for prints in my kitchen when I finished.  The little clean rectangular spot is where my camera was sitting (it's no wonder I'm not allowed to get a big fancy expensive one).

 Definitely try the cupcakes - they are great even without frosting (this coming from someone who used to make a bowl of the stuff just to eat it with a spoon - don't judge).

Recipe - yields 12 cupcakes

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

In a bowl whisk together all dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, with a handmixer, cream together butter and sugars.  Add in eggs on at a time.
Slowly add in dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon.
Divide equally between muffin cups and bake in a preheated oven (180°C) for approximately 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle cupcake.

These cupcakes are light and fluffy and have a taste of pumpkin pie.  Absolutely delicious and a perfect addition to any Thanksgiving meal (or as a meal on their own? I made them Sunday and there are 2 left).

Can anyone help me with my cream cheese frosting hiccup?  How do I keep the icing sugar from covering my entire kitchen (I feel like I need to hang plastic sheeting before I start!)  What's your favourite Thanksgiving dish?  Mine is definitely the wait, the sweet the pie, definitely the I have to choose?  I like it all!


  1. To keep the sugar dust to a minimum, use a larger bowl than you think you need and it should have rather straight up sides. You can drape a tea towel over your mixer and over the bowl and just kind of peek in to see what you are doing.

    1. Thanks Ma! I should have asked you in the first place!