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    Entries in fabulous frosting (9)


    The Pumpkins, They Have Returned

    And along with the return of the pumpkins, come all the other wonderful things fall brings.  First and foremost, at least for me, a welcome relief from the heat.  As the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to turn I’m starting to see how people fall in love with this place.  As the stifling blanket dissipates, you can feel Virginia coming to life.  Perhaps it’s just because it’s my first autumn here, but it feels much more like a beginning than an end.  But back to food.  Is there anything better than all the spice stuff that comes with this time of year?  There’s a traditional progression from apple spice to pumpkin spice to eggnog and eventually to gingerbread.  As usual, I’ve ignored tradition and started with pumpkin.  Perhaps I’ll do apples next.  For now, I bring you these amazing pumpkin spice bars… cakes?... whatever.  Filled with warm spices, studded with chocolate chips, and topped with cream cheese frosting, they are to die for, and yet, they are so simple, you can throw them together in just a few minutes. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1 ¼ cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon cloves
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ⅓ cup buttermilk
    • ⅓ cup oil
    • 7.5 oz pumpkin (half of a 15 oz. can)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    First things first.  Since these come together so quickly, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350° and butter an 8x8 pan. 

    Next, whisk together all your dry ingredients. 

    Add the chocolate chips and stir them into the mixture.  I prefer mini chocolate chips for this recipe, but if you don’t have any, go ahead and use the regular ones. 

    In another vessel, combine the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. 

    Whisk them together thoroughly and add the pumpkin. 

    Whisk that in, and pour the whole thing over the dry ingredients. 

    At this point you want to lose the whisk and switch to a spatula or spoon.  Stir just until everything comes together.  Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with air tunnels because this is basically a muffin recipe.  In fact, you could certainly make muffins from this same recipe. 

    Pour the batter into your prepared pan.  I know, you can’t believe it was really that simple.   

    Spread it to the edges of the pan and smooth out the top.  Doesn’t that color just scream fall?

    Into the oven for about 35 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, and your kitchen will be filled with the aroma of all those fabulous spices.

    Now for the hard part.  That cake has to cool completely before it’s frosted.  I left mine overnight… well, most of it.  Ahem.  Ok!  Let’s start on the icing!  Half a block of cream cheese and 2 Tablespoons of butter walk into bowl… 

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  Anyway, make sure they’re both softened and then mix them until they’re well combined and fluffy. 

    Sift in ¾ cup powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. 

    I know, sifting is a bit of a pain, but for some ingredients it’s just a necessary evil.  Unfortunately, powdered sugar is one of those ingredients.

    Mix until the sugar is completely incorporated and you have a smooth consistency. 

    I forgot to add vanilla before the sugar, but now will be fine.  Just a splash… maybe ½ teaspoon or so. 

    And more mixing.  We have now arrived at frosting perfection. 

    Spread that on top of your cake.  Mine seems to be missing a bit.  What?  Don’t judge me.  I was um… testing it.  I had to make sure my recipe was perfect.  OMG was it!

    I topped mine with a few pieces of shaved chocolate.  You could also use chocolate chips or even a sprinkling of nutmeg.  The mini chocolate chips are perfect because you never have an overwhelming flavor of chocolate.  It’s the perfect blend of chocolate, pumpkin, and spice. 

    What’s your favorite thing about fall?




    Cupcakes: A Buttercream's Best Friend

    Last week I showed you how to make the perfect buttercream.  This week, I thought I’d show you a fabulous conveyance for said frosting.  Even as good as the buttercream is, you still can’t just eat it with a spoon.  Not if there are other people present, anyway.  These cupcakes are soft and tender and I’d say they fall into the category of a sponge cake. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1 cup flour
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 3 eggs
    • ¼ cup oil
    • ¼ cup buttermilk
    • 2 Tablespoons water
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    Start by preheating your oven to 350° and lining/spraying your muffin pan.  Next up, measure all of your dry ingredients into a large-ish mixing bowl. 

    Whisk those together and set it aside.  Next, you need to separate the eggs.  (Seeley has the perfect tip for that here.)  If you measure all the rest of your wet ingredients first, you can just drop the yolks in with them and save dirtying an extra dish.  

    Beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks.  <giggle>  Sorry, I just can’t help myself.  But if you don’t laugh at the term ‘stiff peaks’, then you’ve never read a really bad romance novel.  Some of the descriptive phrases that people come up with are simply amazing.  I have yet to actually come across stiff peaks (HA!), but I guarantee it’s out there somewhere.  Oops, I got sidetracked.  Where was I?  Oh yes, egg whites. 

    Set those aside and whisk together the other wet ingredients and pour them over the dry stuff. 

    Stir until it just comes together. 

    Add about ⅓ of the egg whites. 

    Fold that in until it’s mostly incorporated before adding the next third. 

    Stirring will deflate the egg whites, so make sure you’re gently folding them in.  Cut through the middle with your spatula.

    Then scrape along the bottom of the bowl and up over the top. 

    Continue that with the remaining egg whites until they’re all incorporated.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each one about ⅔ full.  I always put my muffin tins on a sheet pan.  It makes them easier to move around, and it’s also insurance in case I’ve filled them too full.   

    Now, just before you put the cupcakes into the oven turn the temperature up to 425°.  Bake them at that temperature for 5 minutes, then turn it back down to 350°.  Bake them for an additional 10 – 12 minutes. (That’s a total of 15 – 17 minutes.)  They’ll be just starting to brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one should come out clean.  Allow them to cool in the pan for only 2 or 3 minutes before relocating them to a cooling rack. 

    When they’ve cooled completely, top each one with a generous amount of delicious buttercream. 

    The interior of these cupcakes is fabulous.  They’re light, fluffy, and moist without feeling oily. 

    What perfectly innocent phrase makes you crack up?  Come on, we all have our sophomoric moments.