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No Hoo-Ha Carrot Cake

At various times in my life I have turned up my nose in disgust at carrot cakes. Seriously. Carrots? Those are a vegetable and I love them – they do not belong in cake. I compartmentalize my food. If I’m being “bad” and eating cake, I don’t want to mix up that emotion with the “good” of eating a vegetable. I’m not adept at sorting out that many contrasting feelings. However, I realized this week that I used to feel the same way about zucchini cakes – until I discovered that my mother’s chocolate zucchini cake (I’ll have to make that soon and post the recipe) is one of the most delicious things on the planet. So I decided to give carrot cake a sporting chance. It’s Easter week after all – what better cake to make? [Read more…]

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Candy Corn Cupcakes

It was a gorgeous fall day! We went to the pumpkin patch as a family, enjoyed the brisk foggy morning and the muddy ground. We picked pumpkins and took some photos, then it was home to prepare for Madison’s birthday party.

Pitts in a Pumpkin Patch

She turned 4 back on the 5th, but because of wedding craziness, we held of on the party until tomorrow. She requested “chocolate cake with no frosting” for her birthday. Well, that’s no fun! So she gets a plain chocolate cupcake, but I created these babies for her guests. Madison LOVES candy corn (just like me!) – actually, it’s pretty much the only candy my daughter will eat (totally NOT just like me).

Originally I was going to make a cake in the shape of a candy corn. Yellow cake on the bottom, pumpkin spice layered over the top, cut it out into a triangle and frost it to look like a candy corn. Then I thought, I wonder if I can do cupcakes that are layered, yellow cake, orange cake and white frosting. How cute would that be?! Here’s what I came up with. It was time-consuming, but they taste AMAZING. The slightly sweet almond-y yellow layer combined with the spiced pumpkin layer are great together. And the creamy rich frosting is perfect on top. Plus, they are totally adorable.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Yellow Cake (bottom layer)

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups cake flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs  one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and the almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. Fill cupcake pans (with liners) about 1/2 inch with yellow cake batter and set aside.

Pumpkin Spice Cake (top layer)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Directions

1. Sift together the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
2. Beat 1/2 cup of oil, applesauce, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl to combine.  Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the mixture before adding the next.
3. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
4. Add pumpkin spice batter on top of yellow cake batter in cupcake pans until 3/4 full.
5. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in pan 2 minutes then take out of pan to cool completely on wire racks. Frost with swirled cream cheese frosting and top with a candy corn.

Here’s what you’ll have prior to frosting them:

Cupcake Layers

Swirled Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Remove 1/3 C frosting to smaller bowl. Add orange food coloring to tint slightly orange.
  3. Put a Ziploc bag into a tall glass. Using a butter knife, spread a line of orange frosting vertically up the inside of the bag. Fill the bag with the plain white frosting. Press the air out, seal the bag and snip a corner. Pipe frosting around the cooled cupcakes to frost.


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

The first day of fall isn’t technically for another couple of days – but today’s weather is my perfect autumn day. As Winnie-the-Pooh would call it, it’s a blustery day. A touch of dark storm clouds and a  swirling breeze, not quite strong enough to be a full on windy day, but enough to stir the branches of the multicolored trees. Days like this make me want to fill my home with the pungent spices of cinnamon and clove. Bible study worship night is the excuse I needed to make these delicious pumpkin spice cupcakes.  I always round my teaspoons/half teaspoons of spices because I just think that makes it better. But there’s really no technical measurement for a rounded teaspoon.  So there you go.

Shout out of thanks to my sister Amy – who gave me a can of pumpkin puree, which (in my opinion) is worth its weight in gold currently due to the great pumpkin puree shortage of 2009. My grocery store still doesn’t have any of the Libby’s stuff on their shelves…and who wants to bake with organic fancy puree that’s $4 a can? Well – I guess maybe you will if you want to make these cupcakes before the regular stuff comes back in stock. 😦

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes w/Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Sift together the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup of oil, applesauce, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl to combine.  Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the mixture before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. I like to use an ice-cream scooper to make nice rounded cupcakes.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 19-21 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by beating the cream cheese and 1/4 butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; beat until fluffy. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost with the cream cheese icing.

Whenever I’m frosting cupcakes, I put a ziploc bag into a glass, fill it with icing and then snip a corner – and do a swirl on top. I always go back and add more frosting it seems, because the pretty swirl just isn’t enough frosting for me.

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