Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes


It's that time of year again . . .
Pumpkin spiced something everywhere you look.
Although it's still not sweater season here,
just seeing the Starbucks signs that pumpkin
is once again on the menu makes my taste
buds perk up and gives me great comfort.

These are a mess. I know you can do WAY better at decorating, especially on the cream topping.

These are some very moist, very delicious and
VERY dangerous cupcakes to have around.
Well for me anyway.
Do your confections ever whisper
(or shout "hey! you! over here!")
to you as you're passing by,
just minding your own business?

This recipe was adapted from Annie's eats
who adapted it from Williams Sonoma.
So it's made the rounds and has been
taste tested by the some of the best.
I just wanted to simplify it a bit
and use what worked best for me.

The flavors and spices have been bumped
up and I switched out the whipped cream
for a more stable option and added some
spices to that part as well.
Who wants to bite into an almost great cupcake?
Stablized whipped cream would also work or
even a light buttercream.
And you can go all fancy and use vanilla beans
and real whipping cream if you prefer.
I'm sure they are wonderful.
Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough
to truly appreciate them.

The original recipe for Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
is included below however, as a time saver,
I substituted Brach's caramels which I melted and
thinned with a little bit of caramel ice cream topping.
Simmer gently until desired thickness is achieved.
Unfortunately when I made these, I neglected to note
just how many caramels or how much sauce I used.
So you be the judge in your kitchen.
You may want to start with about 1 1/2 cups of
caramels since that is the yield for the caramel sauce recipe.


If you can't find the vanilla powder in your area, substitute with good 
quality vanilla extract and increase the baking time by a couple of minutes.

I also piped a ring of canned caramel frosting
(gasp!) to help contain the whipped topping.
A true sin for all of you "from scratch" bakers, I know.
Leave it out or do as I did or use your favorite
recipe for caramel buttercream if you'd like.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes  
Yield: about 2 dozen cupcakes

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

4 T instant coffee
3 T vanilla powder (CK brand) or vanilla extract
2 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t grated nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves

1 t salt

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

4 extra large eggs

½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing

Whipped topping:

2¼ cups non-dairy Frostin’ Pride
3 T confectioners’ sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. ground nutmeg


Ground cinnamon
Caramel sauce (store bought caramels thinned with caramel ice cream topping)

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce 
Yield: 1½  cups

1 cup sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
¼ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.  When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center.  Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir.  Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream.  Set aside.  Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat.  (To test the color, spoon a drop onto a white plate or bowl.)  Carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds.  The mixture will steam and bubble violently.  Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Stir in the salt and the vanilla.  If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.  

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with foil liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, instant coffee, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans.  While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating.  Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the Frostin' Pride in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar and spiced gradually.  Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes.

Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce.  *Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

*Add the caramel drizzle just before serving or it might get runny looking
like this rather than the beautiful golden strands they started out as.
Why do I always try to do so many things at once and
not leave enough time for the photography?

For even more fun, top with mini pumpkin pie slices made from caramels & fondant.

See another version of the pie topper and a tutorial

And be sure to check out her other cute toppers while you're there.The mini cake is adorable! 

Oh, and she piles on the whipped cream topping for her cupcake much better than my lame attempt.
So make yours look more like hers. Okay?

Happy Fall Caking!

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