It looks like I’ve finally got a recipe ready to get in before this month’s cupcake hero. This month’s theme was squash, a suitable fall theme, and I decided to go with Pumpkin (like pretty much everyone else). Finding inspiration for these cupcakes was easy. Every Thanksgiving my mother makes a pumpkin pie that has a layer of pecan-praline at the bottom, and it is delicious, and the inspiration for these cupcakes. These are pumpkin cupcakes, filled with pumpkin pie, and frosted with a cream cheese frosting flavored with pecan-praline powder and maple syrup. The result was delicious. When I served these last night a number of people told me that these were the best cupcakes I’ve made yet, and while I don’t know that I agree (I find it hard to accept anything without chocolate in it as a “best”), they were certainly very good. At least one person said the cupcakes reminded him of cheesecake, probably because of the cream cheese frosting. This is also one of the only times where I’ve ended up with the right amount of everything (I usually end up with too much or not enough of some part of the cake, like the filling or the frosting)
A note on the frosting: it is not nearly stiff enough to be piped as written. You could probably solve this problem by adding powdered sugar, but I wanted the sweetness to come from the praline and the maple syrup more than I wanted a pipe-able frosting.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Makes 1 8x8 pan1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
2. Whisk in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture.
4. Pour the filling into an 8x8 baking pan (I used Pyrex). Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake the filling until it has set, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool fully. While the filling is baking, prepare the other parts of the cupcakes.
Pumpkin Cupcakes (recipe from marthastewart.com)
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugars, the butter, and the eggs.
2. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Once they are fully combined, mix in the pumpkin puree.
3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full using a ¼ cup measure. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Makes 2 ½ - 3 cups1 ½ cups sugar
1. Put the water and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir briefly so that the sugar is mixed with the water.
2. Let the mixture come to a boil. Continue heating. Eventually the mixture should begin turning an amber color. When the mixture reaches a light to medium amber (around 300 degrees on a candy thermometer) remove the mixture from the heat. Immediately pour the nuts into the caramel and shake to combine.
3. Pour the caramel onto an oiled cookie sheet or a silpat. Set aside and let cool and harden (this won’t take too long).
4. Once the praline has hardened, break it into chunks and put it into a food processor. Use the food processor to grind the praline powder until it resembles a coarse sand.
Maple – Praline Frosting8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Beat in the praline powder, maple syrup, and powdered sugar.
1. Use the cone method to hollow out the cupcakes.
2. Spoon a healthy amount of pie filling into each cupcake. Place the top back onto the cupcake.
3. Frost with the Maple – Praline Frosting.
4. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.