Spiced pumpkin cupcakes

It seems that an increasing number of my posts now start with “So I’ve been a terrible blogger…”, doesn’t it? What can I say? I want to say I blame Instagram (where I post very regularly), but truth be told, Instagram can probably only be held partly accountable for the lack of posts. After all, it is me who decides whether or not I want to whip out my camera to take photos of the food I make/if I measure out my ingredients!

Despite a rather sizeable backlog, I thought I would post the recipe for these spiced pumpkin cupcakes which I made fairly recently (i.e. within the last month, as opposed to last year). I suspect some of you may have some leftover pumpkin puree from Thanksgiving, so what better way to use it than in a delicious not-too-sweet treat?

I adapted Aran’s recipe for beetroot and poppy seed cupcakes to make these. And by the way, if you have yet to try Aran’s original recipe – please do! I’ve made them countless times now, and everyone always loves them. I’ve even tried making banana cupcakes using her recipe as a starting point. 🙂

Another plus is that these little babies are gluten free (though you can easily make them with normal all purpose flour). Interestingly, I have found that using gluten free flours seems to enhance the texture of cakes/cupcakes – not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way?

I use a fair bit of spices in these cupcakes, but you can always use more/less depending on how ‘spiced’ you want these cupcakes to be. You may also add some chopped walnuts or pecans to the cupcake batter if you wish.

Alternatively, you can whip up a quick cream cheese frosting to top these cupcakes – I usually whisk together 200g cream cheese, 100g softened butter, 3/4 cup icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I then add a teaspoon of lemon juice at the very end.

Spiced pumpkin cupcakes
Adapted from this recipe by Canelle et Vanille
Makes 12 small-ish cupcakes, or 9 medium cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour (you may use normal all-purpose flour if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn oil (or any other flavourless oil)
  • Demerara sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 180’C.
2. In a small bowl, mix the coconut milk with the lemon juice. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
3. Sieve the brown rice flour, allspice, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium sized bowl. I usually don’t sieve my ground almonds, because they usually aren’t ground finely enough to easily pass through the sieve.
4. Add the pumpkin puree, egg, sugar, coconut milk mixture and corn oil into the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment, until it forms a nice smooth paste (this should take only 1-2 minutes). You can also do this with a handheld whisk or a spatula if you don’t want to use/don’t have a stand mixer.
5. Add the sieved dry ingredients (and the ground almonds) to the wet pumpkin mix. Mix until the batter is just combined.
6. Scoop the batter into cupcake tins. If you wish, you may sprinkle some demerara sugar on top of the batter – this will give you a nice crunchy cupcake topping.
7. Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes until cooked. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes should come out clean.
8. Leave to cool slightly on wire racks, then eat!

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Pumpkin whoopie pies

Whoopie pies have taken the world by storm recently, and have even been hailed as the “new cupcake”. Who would have thought that two round pieces of cake (sandwiched with a creamy filling) could become so popular?

According to folklore, Amish women used to bake these for their husbands and put them in their lunchboxes. When the men opened their lunchboxes after a hard morning in the fields, they would shout “whoopie!”. And thus the whoopie pie was born. Of course, there is no proof that this is how they got their name, but it’s a fun story, and I’m more than happy to go along with it!

I’ve been seeing a lot of pumpkin puree around recently, and so thought it would be fun to incorporate some pumpkin into some whoopie pies. It was quite interesting as I had never actually used pumpkin puree before, nor had I ever made whoopie pies. Oh, and I’d only ever eaten one whoopie pie from Hummingbird Bakery. Thinking back, I must say I didn’t really have much idea of what I was aiming to achieve, both taste and texture wise. But that’s the fun thing about cooking, no? The experimenting. Or sometimes, the disasters…

Shaping these whoopie pies were actually much harder than I expected. I don’t have a cookie scoop, so had to use two spoons to form them into the two domed halves. For my first batch, I didn’t smooth them out, hoping they’d even out as they baked. I can now tell you that they didn’t (not sure if this is true of all whoopie pie recipes, or just this one?). So I ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to make sure the rest of my whoopie halves were smoother and more respectable… I also ended up with rather unevenly sized halves, as I didn’t measure how much batter I used each time. Basically, I was lazy.
Having said that, the final product actually tasted pretty good. Instead of using the more “traditional” cream cheese filling, I decided to go for a dark chocolate one. And you know what, I’m glad I did. The bittersweet chocolate ganache/filling complemented the pumpkin perfectly, and I daresay I would not have enjoyed them as much had it been a cream cheese filling. (Thank you R for the suggestion!)
I also made some “mini” cupcakes with some of the batter. Mainly because I’d just bought a new silicone cupcake tray, and felt the overwhelming urge to use it. I didn’t fill the holes till the top, as I was hoping to get a effect of a paper lined cupcake (if you know what I mean). They didn’t turn out all that well (as you can see), but I’m definitely going to try to achieve that effect the next time I use the tray! Another thing that bugged me were the air bubbles in the batter, which caused little “holes” in the final product. I think I’ll try tweaking the recipe to make it more liquid next time around…  And yes, the frosting on the top does look a bit like a lump of poo – so I dusted them with icing sugar in an attempt to make them look less so. 😛

If you have any good whoopie pie recipes, do let me know as I’d love to try making them again!!

Pumpkin chocolate whoopie pies
Adapted from this recipe on Steamy Kitchen

For the whoopie pies:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (425g) solid pack pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

For the chocolate ganache frosting:

  • 200g dark chocolate (I use Green & Blacks 72% cook’s chocolate)
  • 200g double cream
  • 20g butter

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line baking trays with parchment paper, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, spice blends, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

3. In a mixer, beat butter and brown sugar (on medium-high speed) until it becomes thick and creamy.

4. Add the pumpkin puree, and beat until just combined.

5. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy. (Mixture will be thin, like a muffin batter.)

6. Gradually add flour mixture (I added it in three batches), and beat until well combined.

7. Using a large cookie scoop (about 2 inches diameter), scoop batter onto prepared trays, and slightly flatten the whoopie pie halves with the back of your scoop. Leave them approximately 5cm apart. (If you don’t own a cookie scoop, do what I did and use two spoons).

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until whoopie pie halves spring back when lightly pressed.

9. Cool the whoopie pie halves. Whilst waiting for them to cool, prepare the chocolate ganache filling.

10. Heat the double cream in a pan over medium heat, until it feels hot to touch.

11. Place the broken up chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and butter, and stir until all the chocolate/butter is melted. It should form a thick and shiny frosting.

12. To assemble the whoopie pies: Pipe or spoon the chocolate ganache filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another half, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the whoopie pie. Repeat until all the halves are used.