Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

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It’s official. My baby is growing up. My oldest daughter turned 8 this weekend, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around that idea. As a Mommy, I have mixed feelings. I miss my little cuddle bunny that called vegetables “begebles”, but I am also treasuring the conversations we are having now, as she tries to sort through her little world. I’m having to learn to give her rope some more slack, as far as responsibilities she can work her way into. One of my greatest struggles is letting go of the reigns in the kitchen. It’s “my” safe zone, and having someone else tinkering in there makes my heart beat faster. I want things done a certain way, and egg shells in my bowl makes my blood pressure rise. I’m learning to grit my teeth, and try to enjoy the process of baking and cooking with her, and it’s getting better every time. She loves being a part of the process, and I love to see the excitement as she learns new things. A couple weekends ago, we made cupcakes!
I’m excited to share my favorite cupcake recipe. I stock up on canned pumpkin through out the year and wait excitedly for the announcement that it is fall, so that I can make these. I have made them twice now in the last few weeks, and each time, I have had to share them with friends quick, because they do not last more than a day or two at my house, which is plain dangerous. On that day we  were having company over and my friend had insisted (it was more like threatened) that I make these cupcakes for dessert. I got to bake them with the girls, and actually let my ‘little lady” do most of the measuring and stirring. She had a blast! The end result was two girls, happily licking bowls and spatulas of batter, watching the oven as the cakes baked. It made all the teeth gritting and elevated heart rate totally worth it.

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These cupcakes are great by themselves, but I can never resist piping some cinnamon cream cheese frosting on them. If you don’t have access to canned pumpkin, here’s a link on how to make it at home. If you get the canned stuff, be sure to get the 100% pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie filling. There’s a significant difference. You could also substitute 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend for all the separate spices. I had posted the cream cheese recipe before. Just add a teaspoon of cinnamon to this recipe, and you have the frosting I used.

Adapted from All recipes
Makes 24 cupcakes.
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,cloves, allspice, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (you should see the mixture look noticeably lighter in color). Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to combine before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Mix in the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tins ( I use an ice cream scoop).

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3. Bake until golden, and a toothpick to the center comes out clean (22-25 minutes). Cool slightly in the pan, and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Frost the cupcakes with the prepared cinnamon cream cheese frosting linked above, or simply enjoy as is.
Enjoy!

DSC_0033Devotion For the Day:

We have been reviewing Galatians 5 that talks about the fruit of the Holy Spirit with our kids and I wanted to share it with you.

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law.

As we were talking over these qualities, my husband explained to the girls that you cannot portray this fruit without the help of the Holy Spirit, and I was thinking…. it’s so true. We all admire the attributes above, but humanly speaking, it totally goes against our nature. It becomes so hard to do the very things we wish we could, until the Holy Spirit is within us. These qualities are then an outward manifestation of the wonderful transformation happening within us!

Cream cheese frosting …..and a turtle cake!

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of making this pull apart turtle cake for a sweet friend of our family who was turning 3. He got to take the cupcakes to school and share with his friends, and I got to play around with frosting.  It was a win- win situation for all involved:-) The frosting of choice when it comes to any cake at my house is almost always cream cheese frosting. To say we like it is an understatement. My husband for years had always said how much he hated frosting, until I baked him pumpkin spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and now he is the first one to ask where the mixing bowl is when I’m done frosting. I think what we like most about it is that it’s not achingly sweet like some frosting can be.

I made two batches of the frosting. One stayed as vanilla flavored (which I colored lime green) and the other got turned into chocolate frosting. As I mentioned above, I have also in the past added cinnamon, and it is insanely delicious on carrot cake, pumpkin cake or banana cake. Just add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the vanilla recipe, and you are in frosting heaven. It makes for a good base recipe that you can change up with different extract flavors. Make sure to use cream cheese and butter that has been sitting out of the fridge for a little while and has softened. It makes it much easier to cream together.

I took pictures to show the steps for making the pull apart cupcake cake. I’m totally fascinated by these, and they are perfect for so many reasons. They are easier to frost, easy to serve, and they look like you put waaaay more effort than they really require. I have made a pull-apart bridal shower cupcake cake before, and I’m eager to find more ideas for future cakes. My kids birthdays are in the fall, and I’m already trying to think up ideas. I got the steps for the turtle off the Betty Crocker site. I used M& M candy for the eyes, mini choc chips for the nostrils, a red Twizzler for the mouth, and a green one for the tail. The cupcakes were vanilla.

For best results, keep the cake refrigerated until you need it. The frosting gets soft from sitting out.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 Ounce) Block Cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Food coloring (optional) I used gel that was lime green.

1. Using a hand held mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until it is well combined. Add in the vanilla.

2. Starting on low speed, add in a cup of confectioners sugar at a time. Increase the speed once the sugar has been somewhat incorporated, or else you will end up wearing half of it 🙂 I’ve been there! Mix until all the lumps are gone and the frosting is smooth.

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3. If adding food coloring, add a few drops at a time until you have the desired color.

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Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

Use the vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe above, but add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder in with the confectioners sugar. If the frosting is a little stiffer than desired, add a spoonful of milk at a time until it is the right consistency. I added 2 tablespoons of milk to mine.

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Turtle Cake:

Here is the link for the step by step instructions from Betty Crocker.

You will need 12 cupcakes for one pull apart cake.

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Starting with 7 cupcakes, arrange them as shown above and frost them with the chocolate frosting.

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Frost 5 cupcakes green and attach them as shown to make the head, arms and feet. Next, outline the shell and fill in with crack like pattern.

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Add in the final decorative elements for the face. I used twizzlers for the mouth and tail, M&Ms for the eyes, and chocolate chips for the nostrils.

Devotion For The Day:
It truly amazes me how a certain scent or smell will stop you right in your tracks. The smell of freshly cut grass, the smell of the ocean, the hunger pang inducing aroma coming from the bakery across the street. We all have experienced it in one way or another. The smell of warm cinnamon is enough to lighten my mood. With that visual in mind, I was captivated by a verse I read recently. 2nd Corinthians 2:15 says: For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. I read this at least a week ago, but I cannot get that image out of my mind. It has made my prayer each morning that I would be a sweet fragrance in the way that I carry myself out, knowing that I have the opportunity to be the aroma of Christ that day.