Yesterday morning I woke up at six to bake Halloween cupcakes. I had a paper due in 12 hours, but playing with flour and sugar instead of my keyboard felt like a much better way to spend my early morning moments. I love Halloween because it marks the peak of fall festivities, at the very end of glorious October before the cold gloom of November. To celebrate, I made Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes, warm and mellow and flecked with tart orange rind and sweet flaked coconut. These cupcakes taste festive because of the ginger and spices, and if you provide toppings (as I did), you can have a cupcake decorating party, which is so much fun!
The original recipe calls for rum in the cream cheese frosting; with no rum, I substituted very little whiskey. I do want to try these cupcakes again with the rum frosting, but they were still pretty amazing without the help of alcohol.
I brought them into work for our Halloween extravaganza. Susan and I wore wigs and Susan made brownies. The members of the other pen celebrated the holiday in style, red eyebrows and all- but in our pen, it was just wigs and sweets.
Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes, adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2007
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5/6 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut plus additional for garnish
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
For the cupcakes:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Fill two 12-cupcake pans with cupcake papers (mine were Halloween themed!). Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporated. Stir in 3/4 cup coconut. Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.
Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely in pans on rack. Frost and decorate with crushed walnuts and chocolate chips. Have a party!
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread).