Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes

It’s Friday!!! Time to wind down from the long week and what better way than to enjoy another fall favorite flavor. Besides Caramel, another favorite flavor of fall for myself is Pumpkin. I always looked forward to Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving as a kid and to this day I still crave it this time of year. But now that I am an adult, I like to experiment with the flavors I have always loved and deconstruct old favorites into new products. Today’s post is the result of a deconstructed Pumpkin Praline Pie translated into a cupcake.

The beauty of these cupcakes are they have the wonderful flavors of a Pumpkin Praline pie but are far easier to transport than the traditional pie and are easy for kids to swipe and run away with before you even knew they were in the kitchen. The base of the cupcake is rich in pumpkin flavor and accented by a great blend of spices. For the Pumpkin Pie Spice I chose a blend that contained China Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. You can use any brand of Pumpkin Pie Spice but I really enjoy what this particular blend brings to the cupcakes and how it accurately brightens the pumpkin flavor without overpowering it. I would have the base flavor no other way.

To bring the Praline flavor to the cupcake without overshadowing the pumpkin flavor, which must always be the star of the show, I chose a very light and airy whipped topping like frosting called Chantilly Cream. I chose this not only to be a light and delicate way to introduce the praline flavor, but also keeping in mind that this is a deconstructed version of a pumpkin pie and how do most people top their pumpkin pies… with Cool Whip.

To make Chantilly Cream you simply whip cold heavy cream to stiff peaks then add any flavors you are wishing to achieve. For my flavoring, I chose Maple Syrup because it gives a nutty caramel flavor much like what is found in a Pumpkin Praline Pie.  Now I know I often give short cut time saver tips but I really don’t suggest you ever use Cool Whip as a substitute to making Chantilly Cream yourself because there is no comparison to the homemade variety and since it is so simple and takes only a few minutes the stuff you buy prepared really doesn’t save much time and costs far more than standard cream and imparts a processed flavor which can overshadow your flavor additions and even the cake base itself. So no cheating with this one.

To round out the final flavors of the traditional Pumpkin Praline Pie and add an elegant finishing touch to the look of the cupcakes, I toasted and chopped a few pecans and garnished the Maple Chantilly Cream. After a slight traumatic incident involving a spooked cat, cut toe, and suicidal cupcake I had to clean off the floor, I was finally able to enjoy this fall masterpiece that had scented up my kitchen all morning. Let me tell you… the moist, tender pumpkin cake slathered with the light maple cream and crunchy pecan garnish was… truly…. delicious!!!

Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (7.5 oz.) All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (8.75 oz.) Sugar
  • 8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted & cooled
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 ½ cups Heavy Cream, chilled
  • ¼ cup Maple Syrup
  • ¼ cup Pecans, toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350°. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan and grease liners with cooking spray (You can use Halloween or Fall themed liners for added effect). Mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and eggs on medium-high until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, mixing until incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. A few small streaks of flour may remain which is okay.
  3. Place the batter in a measuring cup for easing pouring and fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake about 12-15 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
  4. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and beat the cream and maple syrup together on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. If you are old school you can also use a whisk and whip the cream by hand for the same results minus a sore arm 😉
  5. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the Maple Chantilly Cream and pipe in a circular motion on the top of the cooled cupcakes. Finish cupcakes with a sprinkle of pecans. Serve. Store any leftovers in refrigerator up to three days.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012

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Swedish Apple Pie

It has been awhile since my last post so I thought I better catch up and what better way than to do so with an old American favorite… Homemade Apple Pie. The  twist here is though that I did not prepare this particular homemade apple pie the conventional American way. I cheated on America and made it the Swedish way. I have to give credit where it is due to the Swedes…this is a mighty fine tasting Apple Pie and the ease of it makes it that much more delicious. What would you say if I told you that this pie could be made on a work day or school night without you pulling all of your hair out doing so. Crazy right…well wrong because this pie is capable of just that. It is simple and delicious and a pleasant twist to the original we all know and love that it can even be served at a dinner party and you will be sure never to go wrong. A drizzle of Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise or if you want a more traditional paring like what my grandfather preferred… a big heaping scoop of Vanilla Ice cream.

This pie is sensational. It is a cross between a spiced apple cake and a dense pie with a crisp sugar coated apple topping and a crisp and buttery thin crust. A few notes before I send you off to baking this delicious creation. Be sure to use two different varieties of apples here, one that is tart and one that is more sweet. I chose to use the ratio of 3 Granny Smith’s to 2 Braeburn, however you can use Golden Delicious or Gala apples in the place of Braeburn but be sure to use Granny Smith’s for tartness no matter which type of sweet apple you choose.

Swedish Apple Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, plus 8 tbsp. (1 stick) melted
  • ¾ cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, & sliced thin
  • 2 Braeburn Apples, peeled, cored, & sliced thin
  • 1 ¼ cups Sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Apple Pie Spice
  • ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp. Sour Cream

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 325°. Grease bottom and sides of 9-in. spring-form pan with 1 tbsp. butter. Melt remaining softened butter in large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add graham crackers and toast until golden brown. Transfer crumbs to bowl and let cool.
  2. Toss sliced apples, 2 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tbsp. flour in a bowl. Coat bottom and sides of spring-form pan with toasted graham cracker crumbs. Arrange apples in pan.
  3. Combine 1 cup sugar, remaining flour, apple pie spice, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in eggs, sour cream, and melted butter until smooth. Pour batter evenly over apples. Sprinkle remaining sugar (mixed with a bit of cinnamon for cinnamon sugar – if desired) evenly over batter and bake until deep golden brown and crisp, about 70 to 80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool at least 1 hour or completely. Remove ring from pan, slice, and serve (preferably with ice cream).

Special Thanks To:


Diane Unger &

Peter Mendoros – Photography


All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012

Carrot Cupcakes

Spring is officially here. The plants are in full bloom, spring breakers are flooding the area, and the Easter holiday is just around the corner. I must say I do love the smell of Orange Blossoms in full bloom, which scents the air of citrus when I walk out my door. It is most definitely the best perk of living outside the city and near the orange groves. The thing I hate most about spring happens to be the spring breaker tourists, which remind me of the long few months ahead of tourists. I shouldn’t much complain about tourists I suppose, as they do keep me busy in business equaling  more hours and a larger paycheck. However I can’t get myself to like the onslaught of invaders crowding the Florida roadways with maps on the steering wheel driving twenty miles under the speed limit looking for the nearest Disney World signs and causing me to leave for work and school hours in advance just to get anywhere on time. Perhaps the best part of spring is Easter as I love all holidays. I love the food, I love the cute Easter bunny toys and bags and chocolates. It is with the Easter bunny in mind that this cupcake has come about. What better way to lure the Easter bunny to your home then with his favorite food inside it… the carrot. Carrot Cake is traditionally…well a cake cut into squares and covered in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. But in order to make it more accessible for mom or dad err I mean the Easter Bunny to eat on the go after hiding countless Easter eggs and baskets around the house, I present to you the Carrot Cupcake.

These little Easter delights are a mouthful of moist and richly spiced cake with a fluffy sweet cream cheese frosting. The Easter bunny would never know these cupcake versions of the 1970’s cake fad were once considered health food as they are so deliciously satisfying as a junk food treat. By adding chopped walnuts and raisins, they are also more interesting and a bit more eclectic when put against the traditional cake. Even though the Carrot Cupcakes are reminiscent of a bake sale offering for children they are most definitely a grown up treat. So to all the Easter Bunnies out there this year…enjoy a treat designed just for you!!!

Carrot Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup Flour
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • ¾ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ # Carrots, peeled and grated/processed
  • ½ cup Raisins, chopped
  • ½ cup Walnuts, toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350°. Line a standard sized muffin tin with cupcake liners. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the muffin tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Once cool frost cakes with a thick and even layer of cream cheese frosting (formula follows).

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened but slightly cool
  • 1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened, cut into pieces
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract

Formula:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar together until it appears light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese one piece at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition (you should have about four pieces). Add the vanilla and mix gently until no lumps remain.
  2. Using an offset spatula, gently spread a thick layer of frosting over the cooled cupcakes.

Special Thanks To:

Keri Fisher

Peter Mendoros – Photography


All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Happy Tuesday everyone. Sorry for the momentary disappearance from my blogging recently but I have just acquired a new job and have been dedicated to learning my training. Let me tell you it took too much out of me and whenever I would come home it was way too much to even think about looking at a computer screen, let alone writing all night. So on my day off, my gift to you is a post on Pumpkin Spice cupcakes. My mood was feeling simplistic and this is the result. It probably would have been better to post this around Halloween or Thanksgiving perhaps…well at least the fall season, but of course me the procrastinator waited until almost Spring! Oh well, as the saying goes better late then never.

 So to start these simple Pumpkin inspired cupcakes, you can do one of two things based upon your skill level or your alotted time needed. You can either make the cupcake batter from scratch or you can buy a boxed spice cake mix and build on it from there. I suggest for the best results to make the batter from scratch but as always sometimes we have short notices and we all have lives and it is often hard to spare enough time for kitchen matters. Completely understandable. Regardless they will turn out delicious, impressive, and best of all… simple. If you choose to make the spice cake batter from scratch you will need a handful of spices on hand. For the most important spice, Cinnamon, I chose to use a certain variety for in this formula.

Although it is not required that you use China Cassia or Ceylon Cinnamon as I did, I do recommend using either as it does add an exoticism to the flavor of the cupcake. Some of the other spices you will need is Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. This combination of spices provides a perfect compliment to the Pumpkin and gives rich flavor to the cupcakes without overpowering the pumpkin flavor, only enhancing. Keeping in mind not to overpower the pumpkin or spice flavoring of the cake itself, I chose a Simple Buttercream formula for the frosting, flavored only with a hint of vanilla as not to detract from the cake but rather enhance it with a smooth creaminess up top. With the theme of pumpkin in mind, the frosting is tinted orange. For this I used Wilton’s Orange dye to achieve a light pastel orange that remains soft and elegant on the eye. You don’t want it to be the actual color of the pumpkin which is much darker and brighter as it will take away from the sheer elegance and look more like a store bought kid’s party cupcake, which is fine for your child’s birthday but for this particular formula we want adult, classy cupcakes here 🙂 One the pastel orange color is mixed, grab your decorator’s bag and a star tip (I used #843). You can choose to decorate the tops in any way that you wish however. I have provided you two simple examples. The first and perhaps easiest is simply piping the typical swirl topping around the entire surface of the cupcake. I did two sweeps around to give height to the cupcake then topped it with some prepared nut topping anyone can find in your local supermarket near the packaged nuts of your baking aisle or near the ice cream toppings. The other option is to use a small star tip and gently press down and lift to create mini stars across the entire surface of the cupcake. These look fancy but are extremely simple to create. I suggest you do some of both to add contrast to your presentation. Now for those who do not like pumpkin, you can also leave out the pumpkin puree and solely have a spice cake. Both are delicious!!!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

*Cake*

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix or the following…
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ginger
  • ¼ tsp. Allspice
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. Mace
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened/room temperature
  • 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin Puree

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350°. Line two 12-count cupcake pans with paper liners. Grease lightly with cooking spray. In a bowl, either prepare the spice cake mix according to package directions, stopping before proceeding to the step asking you to fill the cupcake tin with batter…or sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and mace together. 
  2. In another bowl, mix together the sugars, butter, and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. If using the homemade version or the box mix, be sure to add the pumpkin puree now. If making a spice cake without pumpkin, proceed to step 3. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until combined and smooth.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each no more than halfway. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, being sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Prepare the buttercream frosting.

*Buttercream Frosting*

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Vegetable Shortening
  • ½ cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. Milk

Formula:

  1. In a bowl, cream the shortening and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla. Gradually add the sifted Confectioners’ sugar until all sugar is added and combined. The mixture will appear dry. Add milk and whisk well until smooth and creamy. Add a few drops of orange food color until desired pastel color is achieved.
  2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large or small star tip. Pipe along the top of the cooled pumpkin spice cupcakes in a circular motion, building up a round height or gently press down and gently pull up and away creating mini stars all across the surface. If not piping the mini stars, sprinkle some nut topping or your favorite chopped nuts on top. Serve.

Special Thanks To:

Peter Mendoros – Photography


All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012