Um, actually, that would have been more accurate about a month ago during the exactly two-day period that it was autumnal here.
Fall here leaves me wanting. One day the leaves are amber, gold, red; the next, they are brown, scattered, shredded on the ground. I want more time when there is only a slight nip in the air, when watery sunlight filters through the increasingly bare trees, when there is a crunch underfoot from those already fallen.
But, at least I can taste fall.
Pumpkin and squash and warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger. Roasting and baking, soups and stews and pots simmering on the stove.
I went a little crazy at the grocery store, inspired by a host of pumpkin recipes I wanted to try out: pumpkin cinnamon rolls, chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pies. I walked out of there with six cans of pumpkin. Why do I always buy things like I am part of a family of six instead of a single girl in a tiny apartment with no discernable cupboard space?
(And, as an aside, why do all American recipes call for 15-ounce cans of pumpkin? They don’t appear to exist on this side of the border. I can only find 14 ounces or 28 ounces. Are we Canadians stingy with our pumpkin supplies?)
And which of all these recipes would have me cracking open the first can? It wasn’t much of a struggle to decide. I am increasingly drawn to cupcake recipes. I like individual desserts (perhaps I have sharing issues?) and cupcakes are so darn cute. So, when a friend invited me over for dinner, I shamelessly offered to make dessert. (One does not willingly make cupcakes when one lives alone. It is, literally, a recipe for disaster.)
So, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing it was.
These were lovely and moist, full of flavour and ridiculously easy. I give two thumbs up to any recipe that doesn’t require me to soften the butter first. Sometimes I just can’t quite plan that far ahead. Since this one calls for melted butter, you can impulse bake these puppies. A dangerous thought indeed. And the icing was a breeze, even if you do need to pull out the butter and cream cheese early to make it whippably soft.
When I arrived at my friend’s house, she put the cupcakes up on the counter, but not far enough out of reach from her young son, who managed to swipe a finger over the icing of one cupcake. I agree, Erik, the icing is irresistible!
I used the same recipe from my Red Velvet Cake (hot pink velvet cake?) for the icing. It’s foolproof and ridiculously good.
The batter was a little too delicious, though. This recipe, according to Martha Stewart, will give you 18 cupcakes. (Find hers here.) I don’t know what size of pan Ms. Stewart is using, but this easily made two batches in my 12-cupcake pan. Or, more accurately, it made 23 cupcakes. It would have made 24 had I not eaten so much batter. Good lord.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I doubled this because I love nutmeg.)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (I used a 14-ounce can and it was still lovely and pumpkin-y)
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the spices. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in pumpkin puree.
Line the cupcake pan with liners and fill each about halfway with batter. Bake until tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans if needed. (I have one pan, so did not bother with that step.) Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and sugar.