My Halloween costume arrived in the mail a few days ago. I’ve been dreaming about this costume since July, but when I tore open the Amazon.com box and shoved the red Angry Birds beanie onto my head, any ambitions of being a cute Angry Bird instantly died. I looked like I was wearing a Russian ushanka. Sometimes even the best laid plans can go wrong. Horribly wrong.
Over the weekend I went to a doggy Halloween parade on the Esplanade. I was the creepy person snapping pictures left and right who a) did not have a dog, and b) was not a reporter. That’s okay. It’s still a step above hanging out at a playground when you don’t have any kids of your own.
I love Halloween. I love the candy, the colors, the costumes, everything. What I don’t love are haunted houses. I don’t do well when I’m terrified. In college, I went to a haunted house and one of the actors started chasing me as we made our way across a room. I punched him and ran.
Of course, my love for Halloween extends to baked goods. But this year, I had trouble thinking of a Halloween treat to share with you. See, over-the-top cutesy desserts aren’t my thing, so I didn’t want to make anything smothered in candy corn or that would involve gummy worms slithering out of crushed Oreos. But it seems that elegant Halloween treats are harder to come by. I was about to bite the bullet and make cupcakes frosted to look like grinning jack-o’-lanterns and Frankensteins when I saw these beauties by Amanda over at I Am Baker. I instantly knew that I had to make them instead. They’re classy, they don’t look like a six year-old’s snack, and they contain my favorite fall ingredient – pumpkin. Win.
These cupcakes taste even better than they look. The addition of the pumpkin to the cake makes it ridiculously tender and moist – these might be the softest, lightest cupcakes I’ve ever made. Flavor-wise, the pumpkin adds a subtle but interesting twist, its presence definitely more noticeable in the buttercream than in the cake. Best of all, the chocolate decorations are really fun to make – let your imagination run wild and pipe any design you can think of. You can also use orange food coloring to tint the frosting for a more festive flair. Make these today! And then go try to figure out what kind of hair style works best with a ushanka.
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adapted from I Am Baker
Yields 22-24 cupcakes or a two-layer 9-in. cake
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups cocoa
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, pumpkin, and vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated. Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately beat in flour and yogurt mixtures in thirds, starting and ending with flour. Divide among cupcake cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Adapted from Sugarcrafter
Yields enough to frost 24 cupcakes or a two-layer 9-in. cake
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Orange food coloring (optional)
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until smooth and creamy. Beat in pumpkin and cinnamon. Add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, beating until smooth, until desired consistency is reached. Add food coloring if using and beat just until frosting is a uniform color.
Adapted from I Am Baker
Draw designs on a piece of paper. Place it behind a sheet of parchment paper, then place both sheets of paper on top of a baking tray.
Melt 1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips) in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each increment. Transfer chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a writing tip and pipe melted chocolate onto parchment paper by tracing the drawings underneath. Chill in refrigerator for at least half an hour, then quickly peel and place chocolate decorations on top of cupcakes. If you notice the decorations starting to get soft, pop them back into the fridge for a few minutes.