Fall is my favorite time of year and these cupcakes are just what I need to get in the mood. The shadows are lengthening and out here in San Francisco, the air is more humid than usual and it’s warmer. When I lived on the East Coast, the arrival of Fall was all about feeling a cold nip in the air. Here in San Francisco where the summers are freezing, it’s quite the opposite. The weather heats up as the leaves are turning brown.
Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line cupcake tray (24) with paper liners.
In a standing mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed until fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix at a medium speed until well blended.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to wet, alternating with the milk, until all are incorporated. Add pumpkin puree and mix well.
Fill cupcakes two-thirds full and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes. Then remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.
To make the frosting:
Let the cream cheese and butter soften before creaming them together on high speed with a mixer. Cream in the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth and light. Chill in the fridge overnight (or at least for a few hours) to let it set.
Spread on cupcakes and garnish with a pinch of cinnamon.
I’ve been making Nestle® Toll House® Cookies for Christmas for 35 years. I’m almost 42, so you do the math. We always sprinkled colored sugar on top. There is no way I know how to improve on the Toll House recipe, except perhaps to add an extra dash of the vanilla extract. And of course, the quality of the chips matters. You can step up to Ghirardelli, or dare I say, Sharffen Berger, but when it comes down to it, Nestlé Semi Sweet Baking Chips really do the trick, and I bought a HUGE bag of them at Costco at the beginning of December, so we’re sticking to the old favorite.
What’s your favorite Christmas Cookie?
Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies for Christmas
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
The most popular post on this blog, hands down, is My Ultimate Pumpkin Bread post, and one of my personal favorites is my Zucchini Bread post, so now that it’s October, I thought, why not do a mashup? The spices for pumpkin and zucchini bread are so similar, it seems like a marriage made in heaven. And, I’ve been getting a lot of zucchini in my weekly produce box from Full Circle lately.
This version came out perfectly moist. Make sure you squeeze the excess water out of your shredded zucchini. Just press between paper towels before adding to the mixture. I used this kind of grater to prepare the zucchini:
Play with the sugar to meet your tastes. I’ve tried it with 2 cups and it’s perfect for folks who don’t like their quick breads too sweet. I prefer it with 2 1/2 or even 3 cups of sugar.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray 2 9-inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl (including the sugar).
In the bowl of a large standup mixer, cream the butter. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated. Add the milk and beat until mixed. Add the pumpkin and zucchini and mix on medium until blended.
Take bowl away from standup mixer. Add bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until all is moistened. Do not overmix.
Bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until top is golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Halloween = parties for me, so I’m always on the lookout for inspiring buffet food. I can’t remember where I first saw the idea of having guacamole come out of pumpkin as if the Jack O’Lantern is throwing up, but I thought it was hilarious. If you know the source, please tell me and I will attribute it. **Update: I first read it in the book, Extreme Halloween: The Ultimate Guide to Making Halloween Scary Again by, Tom Nardone. Check out his website, ExtremePumpkins.com. **
The recipe for guacamole here is a little different than what you might usually see. Here, it is prepared the Guatemalan way (our Guatemalan friend showed me how to do it). She leaves the avocado in big chunks and chops the tomatoes in large cubes. This approach seemed particularly appropriate for the presentation and turned out to lend great flavor. Now when I make guacamole at home, I always do it this way. Luckily, the pumpkin vomiting guacamole doesn’t inspire any real vomit.
With the avocado in big chunks, this guacamole really stands out and is perfect for the puking pumpkin rendition.
Recipe type: Appetizer
2 ripe but not mushy avocados, chopped in large cubes
1 medium tomato, chopped in fairly large chunks
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1 fresh green chile, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lime
1 Bag of Multicolored Tortilla Chips
In a large bowl, gently toss (so as not to mush the avocado), the avocado, tomato, red onion, green chile, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Leave the pit in until you are ready to transfer to the platter. Chill in the fridge until 15 minutes before guests arrive.
For the presentation: Carve a small pumpkin to have a face that looks like it is puking. Haha. Place it on a large platter with a candle inside. Spoon the guacamole onto the platter in front of the jack o'lantern's face. Distribute multi-colored tortilla chips around the perimeter of the guacamole. Enjoy! Happy Halloween!