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This is just a quick post to recap how I made these very seasonal and more importantly delicious pumpkin cupcakes for Halloween.  I know Halloween has come and gone, but it’s still All Soul’s Day, so as far as I’m concerned it’s a suitably spooky time to post this.

Disclaimer: I used this fabulous recipe from joyofbaking.com, a really extensive and helpful website if you’re ever looking for any baking ideas.  I’m not going to recap all of the quantities, except where I’ve added something or left something out.  If you’re thinking of trying these cupcakes out yourself, refer to the original recipe for a more precise step by step.

I tweaked the recipe slightly because I thought ground clove could be a spice too far, so I left it out and added about half a cup of buttermilk to make them as tender as possible. I also left out the nuts at the end, but I think the next time I will add them as they probably work quite well if you’re serving these as a desert.  But for Halloween-themed cupcakes, I thought it best to stick to little shop-bought sugar decorations.

These cupcakes were very straightforward to make.  You could use a stand mixer if you’re lucky enough to have one.  I just used my trusty old Braun hand mixer that I’m pretty sure is older than me but does the job well!

I used this American brand of pumpkin puree which I was able to get in Fallon and Byrne.  To be honest, I’m not sure how widely available it is in Ireland, but you can always use fresh pumpkin if you feel up to the challenge!  Just bake or steam it and use roughly the same about of cooked pumpkin flesh, i.e. about 425g.

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I creamed the unsalted butter with golden caster sugar, until it was light and fluffy.  I always try and use golden caster sugar if I can get it, as I think it adds a bit more of a caramel flavour than ordinary white caster sugar.

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I then added the eggs and vanilla extract.  I didn’t have any of my usual delicious organic eggs from the market this week, so I used some O’Egg large brown free range eggs.  They are by far the best tasting free range eggs I’ve come across and I always use them if I run out of the other eggs.

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I then weighed out the dry ingredients and instead of sifting them, I just gave them a whisk in the bowl.  For a recipe like this, it works just as well as using a sieve.  Like I said, I omitted the ground cloves.

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I started adding both the dry ingredients and the canned pumpkin bit by bit, beating carefully to incorporate it all without any lumps.

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I then realised I was going to need a bigger bowl..

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At this point I also added in about half a cup (125ml) of buttermilk.  Buttermilk works so well in cupcakes.  I often add it to vanilla cupcakes instead of ordinary milk, as it seems to add a lot of flavour and help to keep the cakes tender.

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I scooped heaped tablespoons of the batter into black muffin cases and baked them for about 20 mins in a moderate oven, until a toothpick came out clean.

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When they emerged they looked like this:

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I left them to cool on a wire rack and made some cream cheese icing.  Because I’d doubled the original recipe to make 24 cupcakes, I didn’t realise I wouldn’t have enough golden icing sugar for double the quantity of icing until it was too late.  So my icing was a lot less sweet than I imagine the orignal recipe is, but it worked very well and I had just enough to pipe little swirls on top of each cake.  I then topped them with a little sugar decoration.

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It’s safe to say that these cakes went down very well, in fact they were devoured!  If you’re making them for picky eaters, I wouldn’t mention the pumpkin or the spices.  It does add a lovely subtle flavour but it’s not immediately obvious what that flavour is, so if in doubt, don’t tell them about it until after they’ve tried them!  Pumpkin is very nutritious and full of Vitamin A.  I’m not claiming that these cupcakes are as beneficial and having some homemade pumpkin soup, but it’s a step in the right direction!

What are your favourite ways to use pumpkin in baking?  I have to admit it’s new to me but I’m eager to try out a few more recipes, especially the very seasonal pumpkin pie….


Update: I’ve reposted this blog for Halloween this year (2014).  I forgot to mention first time around that I got the little Halloween cake decorations from Kitchen Compliments, a brilliant shop that used to be on Chatham Street, just off Grafton street, then moved to South Anne Street, but now it appears it is no more!! What a pity!! I’m not sure what happened to it, but if anyone knows maybe they can let me know in the comments?  You will find all sorts of fun Halloween decorations in your local supermarket, and some even more special ones in any good baking and cooking supply stores. Get baking!!